Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Investigating the Impact of edTPA Professional Development on Classroom Practice and Student Teaching Experience

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Investigating the Impact of edTPA Professional Development on Classroom Practice and Student Teaching Experience

Article excerpt

In a time of instructional reform and increased teacher accountability in the United States, schools and school districts have faced increasing pressure to demonstrate that their teachers make a positive impact on student learning. Traditional assessments of teachers' knowledge are being replaced by demonstrated evidence of their teaching effectiveness and student outcomes (Darling-Hammond, 2012). In an editorial in the Journal of Teacher Education, Knight et al. (2014) wrote, "In general, calls for performance assessments of teaching to provide both formative and summative information about the quality of teachers ... pervade the current discourse on education" (p. 372). A similar transformation is underway in postsecondary programs that prepare future teachers (Sato, 2014). Cochrane-Smith, Piazza, and Power (2013) stated that teacher training programs have experienced "a major programmatic shift from inputs and processes to outcomes" (p. 12). As part of this paradigm shift, teacher preparation programs have faced pressure to adopt performance-based assessments that provide data-based evidence that their candidates are ready to teach upon completion of their respective programs (Cochrane-Smith et al., 2013; Hildebrandt & Swanson, 2014). Race for the Top funds, for example, have been used as an incentive for states to adopt performance measures that tie K-12 student outcomes to teacher training programs and to sanction underperforming programs (Denton, 2013). Similar pressure has come from professional associations, like the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), which promotes the use of performance-based assessments to counter growing criticism against teacher training programs (Sato, 2014).

Developed by AACTE and the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), edTPA is an example of one such assessment that has been gaining national attention. Currently implemented in 40 states and the District of Columbia (AACTE, 2016), edTPA is a standardized assessment that measures teacher candidate ability to plan, instruct, and assess student learning in 27 different content areas (SCALE, 2013). The assessment requires teacher candidates, during the student teaching internship, to provide convincing evidence of their ability to teach using best practices that have a positive impact on their K-12 students. Candidates who are unable to reach their program-specific benchmark or "cut" score on the assessment may be ineligible for certification.

The implications of such high stakes testing on teacher education programs are clear. Colleges of education implementing edTPA must ensure a high-quality internship experience that provides interns with the opportunity to develop and apply the best practices required in the assessment. Given the influential role of the cooperating teacher (CT) in the student teaching experience (Ferber & Nillas, 2010), it becomes critical to secure CTs that model these best practices for their interns. Research consistently shows that teacher candidates often emulate the strategies modeled by their CT (Kissau, 2014). Interns placed with CTs who model traditional, teacher-centered instruction risk perpetuating these practices in their own classrooms and may struggle to meet the edTPA requirements, thereby jeopardizing their ability to obtain licensure. Unfortunately, the placement of teacher candidates with CTs that model best practices is often challenging and flawed (Clarke, Triggs, & Nielsen, 2014). Time constraints on teacher training programs, paradigm shifts in teaching methodologies, and increased accountability on teachers have made it difficult to find CTs who exhibit best practices and are willing to allow a novice teacher teach their K-12 students. To address this concern, the researchers identified, recruited, and provided targeted edTPA-related professional development (PD) for a pool of K-12 teachers who committed to serving as CTs in 20152016, and examined the impact these CTs had on teacher candidates' teaching performance. …

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