Academic journal article Language Arts

Performance-Based Assessment for Certification: Insights from edTPA Implementation

Academic journal article Language Arts

Performance-Based Assessment for Certification: Insights from edTPA Implementation

Article excerpt

We work as teacher educators in an elementary education program offering graduate and undergraduate degrees that lead to initial teacher certification. Recently, the state in which we work adopted a performance-based assessment for teacher licensure, the edTPA examination (Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity [SCALE], 2013, 2014). What makes the implementation of the edTPA in our state unique is that our state legislators and Department of Education chose to implement edTPA in a consolidated timeline with a parallel statewide adoption of the Common Core State Standards (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010). As a result, teacher evaluation and certification processes were revamped quickly and without time for the necessary professional development and programmatic changes required for both inservice and preservice teachers, administrators, and teacher educators.

As teacher educators working to implement program-level changes in response to edTPA, we believe that we must carefully navigate a series of tensions (Berry, 2008) that relate to preparing teachers who have the theoretical and practical undergirding necessary for teaching all learners effectively while also attending to teacher candidates' readiness for passing their certification examination. We navigate these tensions while acknowledging that not all teacher educators embrace the edTPA as a performance assessment (see Sato, 2014, for a review of responses to the edTPA). Although researchers of teacher education have elaborated the specificities of performance assessments like the edTPA within teacher education (Chung, 2008; Cuthrell et al., 2014; Darling-Hammond, 2001; Duckor, Castellano, Téllez, Wihardini, & Wilson, 2014; Jagla, 2013; Pecheone & Chung, 2006; Sato, 2014) and have acknowledged performance assessments of classroom teachers' performances as an effective measurement (e.g., Barker & Conley, 2014; Porter, Youngs, & Odden, 2001), other than Proulx (2014) we have found few reports of the tensions related to implementing a mandated performance-based assessment by teacher educators who actually live and experience a new implementation. In response, we draw on Amanda Berry's (2008) concept of tensions lived and experienced by teacher educators in order to discuss how we retooled our program in response to edTPA implementation. Specifically, in this essay, we ask these questions:

* What tensions have we experienced between our beliefs and practices in implementing edTPA at the program level?

* How can such tensions provide opportunities for growth within a teacher education program?

Tensions as interpretive framework

Berry (2008) argues that teacher educators negotiate a series of tensions in their work: telling vs. growing; confidence vs. uncertainty; action vs. intent; safety vs. challenge; valuing vs. reconstructing experience; and planning vs. responsiveness. As Berry explains, these tensions are interconnected and entangled. This concept of tensions within teacher education practice has been particularly useful for us in understanding the choices we made in addressing the edTPA implementation within our program. Although we understand these tensions are interrelated, our discussion here specifically focuses on how we grappled with the following sets of tensions: telling and growing, confidence and uncertainty, and valuing and reconstructing experience.

Teacher educators often experience tension between telling teacher candidates what to do and how to do it and "acknowledging [their] needs and concerns and challenging them to grow" (p. 33). As teacher educators, we aim to offer teacher candidates opportunities to reflect upon and inquire into their practices. We also aim to help them experience the complexities of teaching, so that they can grow in their practices. However, a formal, performative assessment such as the edTPA makes managing the tension between telling and growing even more complicated (cf. …

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