In February 2011, Tk20, Inc. announced its support for edTPATM, a new assessment of teacher candidate performance that is an important milestone in the history of teacher preparation and teacher licensing. As we look back on the profession in future years, edTPA may even be seen as a watershed event in the history of the teaching profession. Stanford University and the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) partnered to develop the new instrument, formerly the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA).
The new assessment is designed to help all of those involved in education answer an essential question: Is the new teacher ready to teach? Can he or she teach effectively, so that all students learn?
How does edTPATM, the assessment of teaching designed by educators, help answer this question? For the first time in the history of teacher preparation, the field has an instrument that can serve as a common measure of teacher candidate performance. Many states plan to use this measure in licensing decisions. The instrument brings assessment in teaching and teacher preparation to a new level of quality previously unavailable.
Until now, state licensing has relied heavily on paper and pencil subject matter and pedagogical examinations to determine candidate readiness, along with seat time in coursework and helpful but incomplete information from accreditation decisions. The paper and pencil examinations have been an unreliable proxy for actual candidate performance in the classroom. A reliable measure of candidate performance has been a ‘missing link’ in quality assurance in teacher licensing in the United States.
States, the accrediting body, and other education policymakers will be the beneficiaries of edTPA implementation. States that use edTPA have the opportunity to develop greater reciprocity as teachers cross state lines—enhancing recruiting efforts for the effective teachers our students need. State licensing decisions will be better informed and thus more accurate, because the new assessment is a more robust measure of entry-level teaching skills than the field has had to date. The accrediting body, NCATE, has required preparation programs to develop and use assessment systems for a dozen years, but for the most part, preparation providers developed their own home-grown assessments of candidate performance, and most did not have the capacity to conduct the necessary studies to declare them valid or reliable. Too, for the first time, it will be possible to gather data nationally—a help to the accrediting body in terms of improved consistency and accuracy in accreditation decisions, and to policymakers across the board as a new data point becomes available.
Stanford University has completed a national field test of the assessment involving over 7,000 teacher candidates, 160 institutions, and 22 states. Field test data are being used to refine the assessment and to set recommended scoring guidelines. A second field test is underway in spring 2013 in 5 states with expected participation of 4,500 teacher candidates. Resulting data will be included in analysis activities to occur this summer.
edTPA will provide key information not always available previously to teacher preparation providers. Teacher educators will gain important feedback on how well candidates are able to apply knowledge and skills in the classroom—which will better enable preparation programs to engage in authentic continuous improvement—a requirement of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education/Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (NCATE/CAEP).
The instrument will help teacher preparation programs increase their focus on actual classroom practice. It provides a standard developed by teacher educators and teachers that is based on the most effective instructional practices and new, robust research on teaching effectiveness now available as a result of large scale studies.
Research indicates that effective teachers are more likely to stay in the profession. edTPA helps to better identify those candidates who are struggling, and those candidates who are ready to teach. Its process uses trained scorers to yield independent conclusions, providing assistance to preparation programs as they determine which candidates to recommend for licensure. In short, edTPA is an innovation that will yield tremendous benefits to not only the teaching profession but also the students it serves. It is one important development that will shape preparation and licensing for years to come, and we are excited to be a part of it.
The Tk20 system was specifically enhanced to support the original TPA based on our experience with our PACT customers as well as data received from the TPAC consortium. Now our system has been enhanced to support the new edTPA. Tk20 is supporting several schools in the accelerated states, and we look forward to supporting all schools and programs that would like to avail of this opportunity. All Tk20 customers will receive the full set of edTPA enhancements as a free upgrade of their Tk20 system.
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