Guiding Online Graduate Special Education Candidates Through E-Performance Assessments and edTPA

Guiding Online Graduate Special Education Candidates Through E-Performance Assessments and edTPA

Charmion Rush (Western Carolina University, USA) and Karena J. Cooper-Duffy (Western Carolina University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8353-0.ch005
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As online teacher preparation programs continue to grow, guiding the process for edTPA candidates can pose varying challenges. As such, teacher preparation programs must be equipped to provide guidance to online candidates as they complete the actionable items required for edTPA. Provided from the field supervisors' perspective, this chapter outlines the current process Western Carolina University has in place to provide effective clinical and teacher candidate experiences for students in their online program. The purpose of this chapter provides guided structure for graduate special education teachers pursing initial licensure through an online masters' program. This chapter will include 1) the challenges of guiding online students through the e-portfolio process, 2) an exploration of the provided structure for the teacher candidates to fulfill the requirements of edTPA, as well as 3) recommendations for teacher preparation programs and teacher candidate readiness in the practice and application of e-performance assessments and edTPA.
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Portfolio assessments are becoming increasingly popular as an authentic way to document teacher education candidate performance (Ntuli, Keengwe, and Kyei-Blankson, 2009). In particular, the use of electronic portfolios (e-portfolios), are used as a tool in higher education to assess teacher candidates’ performance and promote teacher candidates’ deeper understanding of the program. For most education preparation programs (EPP), several states have formally adopted the edTPA (Education Teacher Performance Assessment) as the summative assessment used to demonstrate the knowledge and skills required by teacher candidates. The edTPA is based on performance assessments including the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the Performance Assessment for California Teachers, and the InTASC Standards portfolio. The edTPA was designed by Stanford University faculty and staff at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), in conjunction with review teams comprised of university faculty, national subject-matter organization representatives, and K-12 teachers. While Stanford University is the exclusive author and owner of the edTPA, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) has partnered to share information on the edTPA (Darling-Hammond, 2012 The edTPA is administered by Pearson (Pearson, 2016).

Formally adopted by several states, the edTPA, is a culminating performance assessment of multiple artifacts—including lesson plans, student work, and assessments—videos, and commentaries evaluated by trained scorers to assess teacher candidates’ planning, instruction, and assessment (Heil & Berg, 2017). The edTPA is intended to be used by the EPP as a capstone assessment to issue teacher licensure or determine certification. It is designed to evaluate how teacher candidates plan and teach lessons in ways that make the content clear and help diverse students learn, assess the effectiveness of their teaching, and adjust teaching as necessary. The edTPA also assesses teacher candidates’ ability to analyze teaching effectiveness and to account for students’ academic language development and students’ backgrounds. For the special education teacher candidate, the assessment requires an in-depth case study of one learner (a focus learner). As required, the culminating project should represent the teacher candidates’ ability to address multiple learning needs and demonstrate their ability to meet the complex needs of the focus learner. Each special education edTPA is scored using fifteen, five-level rubrics. Based on the outcome of each rubric, teacher candidates receive a report that includes a numerical score and one-sentence performance description to determine their proficiency level.

Teacher candidates report the process of completing the edTPA poses unique benefits and challenges. Candidates reported an increased focus on student learning and designing quality assessments as a result of edTPA completion (Heil & Berg, 2017). Perceived negative aspects included standardized assessment features, timing of administering the assessment, lack of theory-based planning and ambiguous and redundant prompts (Heil & Berg, 2017). Student perceptions of edTPA resulted in feelings of detachment from their cooperating teacher and students, abandonment from university faculty, a perceived loss of individuality and a focus on “teaching to the test.” (Heil & Berg, 2017). However, despite these challenges, Heafner & Petty (2016) found that online graduate teacher candidates can achieve edTPA scores that are within the national recommended professional performance standard. The purpose of this chapter is to describe the unique challenges special education teacher candidates experience while pursuing initial licensure through an online master’s program at an EPP. This chapter will 1) explore the challenges of guiding online students through the e-portfolio process using the edTPA; 2) provide an exploration of the guided structure needed for autonomous and independent performance work of teacher candidates to fulfill the performance-based assessments required of edTPA (such as coursework, field and practicum experiences, mentorship, and supervision; 3) as well as offer recommendations for other EPP and teacher candidate readiness programs in the practice and application of the electronic portfolio assessment.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teacher Candidate: Online students seeking initial teaching licensure.

Clinical Educator: Cooperating teacher or clinical educator responsible for supervising the teacher candidate in a public classroom setting.

Formative Feedback: Used as a basis for improvement, ongoing information to identify strengths and target areas about the produce/instructional unit.

Educator Preparation Provider (EPP): The entity responsible for the preparation of educators including a nonprofit or for-profit institution of higher education, a school district, an organization, a corporation, or a governmental agency.

Summative Feedback: Used as a basis for improvement, evaluative information given at the end about the final product/instructional unit.

Online Learner: Online students who complete course/program requirements with the assistance of the Internet and a personal computer.

Lateral Entry Teachers: Teachers in their first three years of teaching who have a bachelor’s degree in a related content area but have not yet secured licensure.

Career Changers: Person moving from one career to another.

Supervisor: University supervisor that provides instructional support to the teacher candidate.

edTPA (Education Teacher Performance Assessment): A performance-based, subject-specific assessment and support system used by teacher preparation programs to emphasize, measure and support the skills and knowledge that all teachers need in the classroom.

Working Professionals: Individuals looking to complete their degree while continuing their career.

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