Examining edTPA's Educative Nature and Its Alignment to Standards of Effective Teaching

Examining edTPA's Educative Nature and Its Alignment to Standards of Effective Teaching

Drew Polly (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA) and Erik Jon Byker (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8353-0.ch007
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This chapter advances the idea that completing the edTPA project is an educative experience that has potential to support teachers' development of high-leverage instructional practices. An inductive analysis of teacher candidates' reflections about completing the practice edTPA indicated that teacher candidates found value in some aspects of the project, such as planning, examining their video, and assessing students' work, but many of the participants perceived that the writing of the commentaries was not relevant. The chapter also describes a strategy called edPASR, which support teacher candidates through the edTPA process as an educative experience based in performance assessment. The chapter examines vignettes of teacher candidates experiences with the edTPA portfolio and concludes with a discussion of the relationship between edTPA and the day-to-day practice of teaching.
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In an era of high-stakes and high-stress testing, how do we ensure that classroom instruction does not give way to inappropriate teaching? (Popham, 2001, p. 16)

High-Stakes Assessments in Teacher Education

While No Child Left Behind ([NCLB], U.S. Department of Education, 2001) and the Every Student Succeeds Act ([ESSA], U.S. Department of Education, 2015) have increased the high-stakes nature of assessments in Kindergarten through Secondary Education in the United States, teacher education programs have not been involved in much of the pressure to produce high scores on tests and assessments until recently. In the past few years, that pressure is slowly seeping into the classrooms of schools, colleges and universities that prepare teachers due to many states adopting performance-based assessments and requiring candidates to reach a certain score to qualify for their teaching license. As a result of this increased pressure, many administrators and faculty members in educator preparation programs hold a critical eye towards assessments that must be completed in order for teacher candidates to earn their teaching credential (Sato, 2014).

Historically, teacher candidates have been required to sit for and pass tests that assess knowledge of content and pedagogy (Darling-Hammond, 2010). These summative assessments typically examine teacher candidates’ ability to recall or regurgitate information, and in some cases apply their knowledge into contexts with multiple choice or open-ended items that are rigorous. For example, some test items include the analysis and synthesis of content they have either learned previously in their teacher education programs or general knowledge content. Along with traditional assessments performance-based assessments, like edTPA, have also been used in teacher education in some instances.

Stecher (2010, p. 3) offers the following definition of performance tasks and performance-based assessments:

A performance task is a structured situation in which stimulus materials and a request for information or action are presented to an individual, who generates a response that can be rated for quality using explicit standards. The standards may apply to the final product or to the process of creating it. A performance assessment is a collection of performance tasks.

Educational leaders have lifted up performance-based assessments as a potentially beneficial way to assess and evaluate the quality of teaching for both teachers and teacher candidates (Darling-Hammond, 2010; Darling-Hammond & Hyler, 2013). Performance-based assessments in teacher education are more proximal to daily classroom practice and provide valid and aligned measures of how teachers and teacher candidates do in actual classroom settings (Darling-Hammond, 2010).

Most Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) have included performance-based activities during the process of determining if teacher candidates were ready to earn their teaching credentials. Historically, EPPs use formal observations from multiple people, including clinical educators, supervisors from the EPPs, and school administrators as a performance-based measure. However, research has documented shortcomings with the validity, reliability, and inconsistency with individuals observing teachers (Recesso, Hannafin, & Polly, 2018).

Due to the nature of performance-based assessments and the idea that teacher candidates demonstrate their skills and knowledge in ways that are assessed; is it a detriment to include course activities and assignments that are similar or identical to the assessment or test? In this chapter we consider the educative nature of the edTPA project by examining the alignment between the edTPA Elementary Education Literacy project and the InTASC Standard Progression Document (Chief Council of State School Officers, 2013). Then we describe a strategy--called the edPASR framework--for guiding teacher candidates through edTPA and present two vignettes related to teacher candidates, edTPA, and their student teaching experience.

Key Terms in this Chapter

InTASC Standards: Standards that define and describe what effective teachers do.

Teacher Education Program: Programs that prepare teacher candidates (future teachers).

Literacy: A school subject that involves reading, writing, and oral speaking.

edPASR: A strategy developed by authors at UNC Charlotte to support the successful completion of edTPA.

edTPA: A performance-based assessment completed by teacher candidates in the United States that assesses candidates’ ability to plan, teach, and assess.

Performance-Based Assessment: An assessment in which the learner completes an assessment that involves work that is authentic to the field.

Elementary Education: Teaching and learning involving Kindergarten through Grade 6.

Teacher Licensure: The process that individuals go through to earn a teaching license or teaching credentials.

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