An email arrived from a woman of Hispanic origin. It speaks for itself:
I am a big fan of your blog. It is so insightful and relevant to what is happening with our educational system. I am a teacher candidate and I am so discouraged by the edTPA. I recently received my master’s degree in special education with a 3.475 grade point average and passed the EAS, ALST, Multi-Content Specialty Exams (which are 3 tests ELA, Math, Science) and CST Disabilities. But I can’t get my license because I can’t pass the edTPA. I have completely exhausted all my funds and can’t afford to take the safety-net ATS-W exam. I put my life on the line to enter a profession in which I am strongly pushed out of. I really enjoyed my student teaching and found it very challenging to work in an under served public school. I taught students who were homeless, in foster care or whose parents were incarcerated. The assistant principal commented how well the students responded to me and were actually upset when I left. After much thought and informal interviews conducted with my students, I discovered why they responded so well to me. I looked like them.
In public schools we push so hard for these students to rise from their neighborhoods and succeed in life. But this is why they don’t believe this goal can be achieved; they don’t see anyone who looks like them actually make it out of the neighborhood. All they know is that if they become an athlete or rapper they can get out of their neighborhood because those are the only role models they are provided with. When they go to school, they do not see any African-American or Hispanic teachers and because of that they cannot fathom the idea of continuing their education to college. With tests like edTPA and the rising costs of the NYSTCE exams, minorities are further pushed out of this profession. After student teaching for 4 months without pay and using what little funds I had on expensive exams, I was brought to financial ruin and nearly lost my house to foreclosure. No career path should bring you to economic ruin.
Not only did Pearson break my wallet they also broke my spirit. As much as I loved teaching, I don’t feel welcomed by the teaching profession. I tried applying for vouchers, but I did not qualify. The questions on the teaching exams are not biased. But when you make testing unaffordable and only certain kinds of people can afford them, that is when it becomes bias! NYS, I read your message loud and clear. You clearly don’t want me in this profession. No job should raise the requirements to a level that is almost unattainable and not have a salary to compensate for it. The state wants me to complete edTPA, which is like the bar exam for lawyers. However when lawyers pass the bar, they are offered jobs that pay from $80,000-$167,000 a year while teachers’ starting salaries range from $47,000-$72,000. If NYS wants teachers to become more professional, they should pay like one. Sorry for my rant but I felt you would understand my frustrations. No one else seems to agree with me. All I find on the internet is how great they think the edTPA is and how easy it was for them to pass and that all scorers are qualified certified teachers. Just because you are a certified teacher hired by Pearson does not mean you are a highly effective teacher. How do I know that the teachers scoring edTPA are highly effective teachers? This seems to be the question of the day and my dilemma.
Sincerely from a teacher candidate who will never become certified and have a MsED but can’t teach,