edTPA is a Rock in My Shoe: Alleviating the Pain of edTPA with the edPASR Strategy

edTPA is a Rock in My Shoe: Alleviating the Pain of edTPA with the edPASR Strategy

Erik Jon Byker (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA), Amy J. Good (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA), S. Michael Putman (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA) and Drew Polly (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1067-3.ch005


As more and more states adopt edTPA as a professional portfolio for teacher licensure, more and more teacher candidates face the challenge of completing edTPA often with little guidance or support. The purpose of this chapter is to describe a specific strategy, called the edPASR Strategy, for supporting teacher candidates through the edTPA process. The chapter shares how the edPASR Strategy emerged from the need to develop a heuristic method that would help teacher candidates successfully navigate and complete the edTPA Portfolio. The chapter examines edTPA related program data from a sample of 263 elementary education teacher candidates (n=263) from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, which is located in the Southeast region of the United States. The chapter reports on the improvement over time in the participants' mean scores on the edTPA Tasks. One reason for the improvement is providing systematic guidance for the teacher candidates through the edPASR Strategy, which stands for: ed- Educate yourself; P- Practice, AS – Assess Self, and R – Review.
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For more than three decades the field of teacher education has been privy to the growing public demand for accountability and the professionalization of teacher practice. Such demand has its origins in the rise of the standardization movement that was heralded with the early 1980’s A Nation at Risk Report (Gardner, 1983). The exigency for teacher professionalization, though, has not been met with the same kind of zeal for a rise in teacher salary so that teachers are paid like professionals (Carter Andrews, Bartell, & Richmond, 2016; Hanushek, 2016; Labaree, 2011). That is an important story that the chapter will revisit in the concluding remarks. The main story of this chapter, however, is about preparing teacher candidates for successfully completing their edTPA Portfolio. EdTPA is a performance-based portfolio assessment developed by the College of Education at Stanford University. The edTPA Portfolio provides evidence of a teacher candidate’s developing professional teacher practices. It is a measure of teacher professionalization. The edTPA Portfolio requires teacher candidates to showcase artifacts related to their planning, instruction, assessment, integration of academic language, and analysis of teaching (Lynn, 2014). The portfolio is then independently evaluated based on a series of rubrics. More and more states in the United States are adopting edTPA as part of granting initial teaching licensure. Thus, the edTPA Portfolio has become a “high-stakes” performance assessment that demands a great investment in teacher candidates’ time and mental activity.

EdTPA is an example of an authentic assessment of the skills and dispositions for the professional practice of teacher. But teacher candidates do not always perceive edTPA that way! Many teacher candidates perceive edTPA as busy work and a bother because of the comprehensiveness of the portfolio requirement. Other teacher candidates perceive it as a pain because of the amount of work involved. One teacher candidate put it like this “edTPA is a train wreck that I can't look away from because it is so much, all at one time and it is very painful to have to look at and deal with.” In an informal survey, the chapters’ authors asked a group of teacher candidates to complete the following sentence stems with a metaphor and explanation: The edTPA Portfolio is a _____ because ____________________. The majority of the teacher candidates shared metaphors describing something quite painful or challenging. Here are examples of what they wrote:

  • The edTPA Portfolio is a black hole; it sucks you in painfully and won't let you out.

  • The edTPA Portfolio is a marathon because it is a lot of ongoing work.

  • The edTPA Portfolio is a wrecking ball because it makes me stress like crazy!

  • The edTPA Portfolio is a Tsunami because it lurks on the coast and then proceeds to envelop everything around you.

  • The edTPA Portfolio is a dental appointment because it may be good for your skills but is sometimes painful.

  • The edTPA Portfolio is a rock in my shoes because it is annoying!

These are likely not the metaphors that Stanford’s College of Education professors were thinking of when designing and testing the validity of edTPA. Nonetheless the metaphors represent real—and somewhat amusing—perceptions of edTPA. How do teacher educators’ best prepare teacher candidates for success on edTPA? What are ways to make edTPA less of a “painful” experience? This chapter shares a systematic strategy, called the edPASR Strategy, for supporting teacher candidates through the edTPA process. The edPASR Strategy provides a heuristic method for alleviating the pain of edTPA, which for some is like the proverbial rock in one’s shoe.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Performance Assessment: The evaluation of authentic experiences that engage learners in activities that are relevant to life situations.

National Board of Teaching Certification: Education organization that recognizes and certifies accomplished and high-quality teachers.

Performance-Based Assessment Cycle: A theoretical model that explains the process of evaluating relevant experience and includes doing, concluding, connecting, and reengaging

Licensure: The process by how a teacher candidate gets a state teaching license.

edPASR Strategy: An organized and systematic strategy for teacher candidates to use in order to prepare for their edTPA Portfolio. EdPASR is an acronym that stands for: ed- Educate yourself; P- Practice, AS – Assess Self, and R – Review.

Teacher Professionalization: An accountability movement to ensure teacher candidates are being prepared, assessed, and licensed in high-quality ways.

edTPA Portfolio: A teacher candidate performance assessment that was developed by Stanford University. The assessment includes a capstone like portfolio project.

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