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May 2016 | Volume 73 | Number 8
The Working Lives of Educators
Despite criticisms, edTPA holds great promise to prepare teacher candidates for professional practice.
The idea of using a performance assessment to gauge a teacher candidate's readiness to teach is fairly new and—as with most significant changes—not without controversy. I serve as senior associate dean of the College of Education at Illinois State University (ISU), and my institution has been deeply involved in the implementation of one particular performance assessment, edTPA, since 2010. Informed by my institution's experiences using the assessment with nearly 3,000 candidates, my aim here is to discuss edTPA's background, some of the positive aspects we've observed, and frequent criticisms.
More than a decade ago, California legislation set the wheels in motion to shift from a traditional, multiple-choice test of knowledge of pedagogy to the use of a summative performance assessment. Education faculty from various campuses in the University of California and California State University systems partnered with Stanford University's Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE) to develop and validate the Performance Assessment for California Teaching (PACT), a subject-specific portfolio. The portfolio required teacher candidates to collect evidence of their teaching practice and provide an explanation of their instructional decisions from a brief learning segment (three to five lessons within a unit). Enthusiasm for PACT grew as more faculty worked with it, reviewed candidate performance, and connected results back to curriculum development. As a result, SCALE partnered with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2009 to transform PACT into a nationally available performance assessment, now known as edTPA.
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