As of September 2015, student teachers in Illinois have been required to pass an assessment called edTPA – formerly known as the Teacher Performance Assessment – to demonstrate their job readiness and obtain their teaching license. Illinois lawmakers are deliberating two bills that could affect this assessment and licensure process. Chris Roegge, executive director of the Council on Teacher Education, discussed the provisions of edTPA and the bills’ potential ramifications for aspiring teachers with News Bureau education editor Sharita Forrest.
What is edTPA, and do experts view it as a reliable indicator of teaching competence?
EdTPA is a performance-based assessment of beginning teachers’ skills in lesson planning, delivering instruction, creating assignments and instructional materials, and evaluating student learning. It is subject-specific to 27 different teaching fields and aligned with the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium standards for beginning teacher licensing and the Common Core Standards.
It was developed by the Stanford (University) Center for Assessment Learning and Equity with input from educators around the country. Currently, 40 states and more than 600 teacher-preparation programs across the U.S. are using edTPA in some capacity. Some states, like Illinois, have made it a requirement for licensure.
The opinions on edTPA vary widely. Although most people agree that it is a quality assessment, there has been considerable pushback on the high-stakes implementation in Illinois and other states. My initial impression is that edTPA seems OK, and it appears not to be too troublesome for our candidates thus far. I am waiting for more data to accumulate and anticipating that it may provide useful feedback for our licensure programs.
What has been the success rate of U. of I. student teachers and their counterparts statewide who have taken the assessment thus far?
So far, the U. of I. has a 99 percent pass rate, with 175 candidates’ scores reported. That’s believed to represent about half of the university’s candidates whose scores will be reported this year.
Statewide, the success rate is about 94 percent, which is good. Because edTPA is a rigorous assessment, the high pass rate validates the quality of teacher preparation in Illinois.
What aspects of edTPA are stirring controversy?
The focal point – and one controversial aspect – of edTPA is that each student teacher is required to video record themselves teaching a lesson they have planned, then watch the video and write a critical analysis of their performance. One or two weeks of the student-teaching experience, which is usually 16 to 18 weeks long, are being consumed by completing the edTPA portfolio of materials.
Our teacher-preparation programs also use several other assessments to judge the quality of student teachers’ work. However, there’s concern that the edTPA assessment overshadows the expert judgment of instructors and student teachers’ supervisors. I’ve been told of some instances where candidates passed edTPA, even though their instructors and supervisors did not recommend them for licensure.
The edTPA assessment also costs $300, which may be cost prohibitive for some candidates, who, according to one recent analysis, may spend $1,200 or more on costs associated with licensure.
Although edTPA was developed at Stanford University, it’s being deployed by Pearson, the publisher for some of the high-stakes tests currently being given to students. Should we be concerned that the same entity is becoming both the gatekeeper for the teaching profession and for student achievement?
That’s another concern that’s creating a lot of pushback. Stanford contracted with Pearson to manage the scale-up and create the infrastructure to implement edTPA nationwide. However, the actual scoring of the assessment is done by educators who receive training to ensure consistency.
What aspects of the teacher assessment process are the two bills in the Illinois Legislature seeking to address?
House Bill 6128 would grant graduates of teacher-preparation programs a provisional license and up to two years to pass edTPA after they begin working as the teacher of record in classrooms. The Illinois Coalition for edTPA Rule Change supports this bill but opposes the provision requiring it for licensure.
Senate Bill 2912 would give student teachers who meet all the other requirements of their licensure program – but don’t obtain a passing score on edTPA – another option. If they achieve a certain minimum score on the assessment, they could obtain a provisional license and would have up to another year to retake and pass edTPA.
Under HB6128, all Illinois candidates would graduate with a provisional license. A major concern is that this would put these beginning teachers at a competitive disadvantage with other candidates who have full licenses.
There have been predictions that the nation will soon face a teacher shortage. Do the enrollment patterns at the U. of I. and other universities concur?
The number of teachers being graduated is declining within Illinois and across the nation. Over the past five years, enrollment in our teacher-education programs has declined by about 25 percent. That’s pretty consistent with the Title II Higher Education Act data, which show a 30 percent decline nationwide from 2010 to 2014.