Creating Faculty Buy-In for edTPA and Other Performance-Based Assessments

Creating Faculty Buy-In for edTPA and Other Performance-Based Assessments

Laura C. Hart, Shawnee Wakeman
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9929-8.ch006
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As candidate performance-based assessments like edTPA grow in use nationally, facilitating faculty buy-in of the assessment processes becomes paramount for implementation success. Many faculty, used to an environment of academic freedom and autonomous curriculum choices, may balk at the notion of implementing a structured assessment like edTPA across their teacher preparation programs. Identifying obstacles and developing responses that allow faculty a voice while maintaining a respectful and open dialogue becomes crucial. The selection of faculty leadership to carry out the initiative, the decision to score the products locally by faculty or externally through a third party, and a discussion of the impact of adopting the assessment on faculty workload are all part of this work. Developing appropriate faculty supports and resources and involving faculty in processes to embed knowledge and skills related to the assessment into formative coursework can prove to be invaluable strategies for EPPs going through these processes.
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Any new initiative typically involves some degree of change within an organization; at the university level, faculty resistance to externally-mandated change initiatives can create immediate difficulties with successful implementation. Adopting pre-service performance assessments like edTPA, developed by the Stanford Center for Learning, Assessment, and Equity (SCALE), or the Praxis Pre-Service Portfolio, developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) are especially challenging, in that while they are summative in nature, using these kinds of assessments also drives formative course changes in coursework prior to the summative student teaching semester. Creating faculty buy-in for these kinds of widespread changes can be complex. Weinstein (2006) discussed the challenges of accountability assessments at the higher education level including faculty views of imposition and infringement. In recent years, faculty in educator preparation programs (EPPs) have been required to make numerous changes based upon the directives of the state licensing agency or policy makers. It is a real possibility that faculty may have soured to being “asked” to implement yet another change. While the foundations of these assessments are based on sound pedagogical practices, convincing faculty of the benefits of the initiative before push back occurs can be difficult. Engaging faculty in conversations and potential subsequent action related to performance-based portfolio assessments must be carefully planned if a different response by faculty is expected.

With any new initiative involving a paradigm change, identifying key obstacles to implementation before the change process is started can help to mitigate these obstacles by developing a plan for response in advance and reacting accordingly (Spencer-Matthews, 2001). In this chapter, we begin by presenting key obstacles we encountered in gaining faculty buy-in of edTPA implementation at our institution. We then share strategies we used to increase the levels of faculty acceptance of this initiative. This work is ongoing. We voluntarily began exploring edTPA as a possible assessment for our candidates in 2012, and yet we still regularly meet, discuss, and review faculty concerns and questions related to the implementation. As the logistical machinations surrounding edTPA become more entrenched in our programs, the resistance to the initiative has eased somewhat. Yet as practitioners of research-based best practices, our faculty continue to push, to question, to seek answers. In this regard, the process of gaining faculty buy-in is unending—which is a good “problem” to have. The presence of dissenting yet respectful voices force all faculty to gently question the efficacy of this work while persistently reviewing our processes for improvements. These kinds of interactions can only serve to better prepare our candidates as teachers.

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