Hello, everyone, and welcome to another installment of Student Teaching from the Student’s POV! Instead of me ranting about my experiences via video (which I know you’re all going to miss), I’ve decided to write down my personal thoughts about the thing that is plaguing all education majors in New York State and beyond – The edTPA.
Half of you reading this are asking, “What in the world is the edTPA?” The other half are either groaning or acknowledging what this acronym is. For those of you who may not know, edTPA stands for Teacher Performance Assessment. In a nutshell, the edTPA is a component in New York State and other states in the country to become a fully certified teacher. According to the edTPA website, the edTPA, “…will give teacher preparation programs access to a multiple-measure assessment system aligned to state and national standards…that can guide the development of curriculum and practice around the common goal of making sure new teachers are able to teach each student effectively and improve student achievement (source).”
What does the edTPA do, exactly? Well, according to the edTPA website, it will “…include a review of a teacher candidate’s authentic teaching materials as the culmination of a teaching and learning process that documents and demonstrates each candidate’s ability to effectively teach subject matter to all students (source).”
More specifically, the edTPA has three main tasks: 1) Planning for Instruction and Assessment, 2) Instructing and Engaging Students in Learning, and 3) Assessing Student Learning. Each task has separate parts that must be completed, such as prompts, instructional materials, types of assessments, and video clips. Each task is very detailed, and requires teacher candidates to be very meticulous. Along with these tasks are 15 rubrics that must be completed. Each task has 5 rubrics that demand different things. In order to pass the tasks, a teacher candidate must get a 3 or higher on each rubric. If a student passes each task and rubric with a 3 or higher, then they pass the edTPA and can become a fully certified educator.
As you can see, the edTPA requires a lot of work and has many components. Each teacher candidate must put in many hours of hard work and dedication in order to pass this rigorous test. Moreover, each teacher candidate must videotape two ten-minute clips of themselves teaching in a classroom during their student teaching placement, showing them teaching the content and the students learning the content. At the end of the entire project, teacher candidates can walk away from a very detailed and impressive portfolio that will be sent for grading to a certified edTPA grader in the country.
So – is it worth it?
I’ve spent the past two months stressing over the edTPA. I have spent many hours in solitude pouring my very being into this portfolio, and during those long nights and endless days, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all worth the stress and aggravation. Since my graduating class (May 2014) is the first class in New York State to do the edTPA, we have often been left scrambling for answers to questions that cannot always be answered by the Saint Rose faculty. To go even further, the amazing members of the Saint Rose Education Department (this includes the professors in the School of Arts and Humanities) have been working their butts off trying to get acquainted with this new certification test. Teachers and students alike have been trying to get the edTPA under control and get a better grasp on it. And, honestly, it’s stressful.
But is it worth it?
As someone who would like to focus on Curriculum and Instruction in the future and who would like to become an Educational Administrator in the future, I cannot help but lean toward the positive side of the spectrum when thinking about the edTPA. While it is a lot of hard work, it is hard work that proves a teacher candidate is qualified to become a fully certified teacher. New York State is one of the top states in the country for education and, in my honest opinion, it’s about time we got on board with this program. The first year of any new system is always going to be stressful; it just so happens that I and my fellow student teachers have the pleasure of doing the edTPA first. But I cannot help but feel grateful to the edTPA for helping me become a teacher.
Here’s why: I am more than a name on a piece of paper.
When I teach in a classroom full of students, I become a completely different person. Genevieve is gone; Miss Diller, who is enthusiastic, peppy, and a tough cookie, takes over, and let me tell you, she is passionate about music and education. She loves teaching her students all about simple beat-keeping and rhythmic notation, and about how to find the beat in their favorite pop songs. Miss Diller loves making music with high schoolers who want nothing more than to close their eyes and make something beautiful together – music. Miss Diller wants nothing more than to fight for the rights of her students to be free to have a fulfilling education, one that won’t cut a program to fit budget needs, and one that won’t take away something that will ultimately give them joy. And, in the end, Miss Diller wants nothing more than to make a child smile and feel good about him or herself.
Can an individual who is grading a standardized test on general information or even music content see this side of Miss Diller? No. They won’t even know what Miss Diller looks like. They’ll just see her name on the test that she took in order to become a music teacher, grade it, and use those scores to determine if she can be an affective and effective teacher.
I am more than a name on a piece of paper. Before the edTPA, in order to become a certified teacher in New York State, you had to take three standardized tests: the LAST, the EAS, and the CST. These tests supposedly determine if you can be an effective teacher in a classroom. But what if you have test anxiety? What if you are sick? What if your number 2 pencil breaks, and you can’t finish your test? What if? I’m sorry, but I’m not basing my life on a what if. I am basing it on concrete proof that I am an effective teacher. That is what the edTPA is bringing to the table – it allows teacher candidates to strut their stuff and prove to seasoned educators that they can, in fact, teach.
I am more than a name on a piece of paper. And the edTPA knows that. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work that causes a great amount of stress. But in the end, I know that when I pass this and my other certification tests, I will be passing because I am an effective teacher. I will be proving my worth through video clips, detailed prompts, and my many assessments of the students that I taught.
So is the edTPA worth it? In my opinion, yes. It definitely shows that a teacher candidate has what it takes to be a teacher, and it definitely tests our ability. I just know that at the end of this journey, I can walk away satisfied.
Are you doing the edTPA now? What is your take on it? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time, Best Wishes!