Pearson administers a new teacher certification program called edTPA. The acronym stands for Teacher Performance Assessment. Student teachers must pay $300 to be evaluated and tested.
In this article, Alan Singer explains why education faculty and their students reject edTPA.
Although some states are delaying implementation, Arne Duncan is forging ahead to make this process a national requirement.
Singer says his students don’t like edPTA:
“Although it is being used to evaluate student teachers for certification, the TPA in edTPA stands for Teacher Performance Assessment. Student teachers in my seminar suggested a better title would is “Torturous Preposterous Abomination,” although “Toxic Pearson Affliction” was a close runner-up in the voting.
“All of my students passed the edTPA evaluation, including some who I felt were weak. In one case, two student teachers that handed in very similar packages received significantly different scores, which calls into account the reliability of the evaluations.
“Statewide, the passing rate was 83%. One graduate student summed up the way the class felt about the procedure. “The whole process took time away from preparing in advance for future lessons . . . It really just added unneeded stress.”
When Singer testified before an Assembly Committee, he said:
“Did Mike Trout learn to play baseball by writing a fifty to eighty page report explaining how he planned to play baseball, discussing the theories behind the playing of baseball, assessing a video of his playing of baseball, and explaining his plans to improve his playing of baseball?
“Did Pablo Picasso learn to paint by writing a fifty to eighty page report explaining how he planned to paint, discussing the theories behind painting, assessing a video of his painting a picture, and explaining his plans to improve his painting?
“Did you learn to drive a car by writing a fifty to eighty page report explaining how you planned to drive a car, discussing the theories behind driving a car, assessing a video of your driving a car, and explaining your plans to improve your driving?
“Of course the answer in all three cases is a resounding “NO!” You learn to play baseball, paint a picture, or drive a car by playing baseball, painting pictures, and driving cars, not by writing about it.
“Yet Stanford University, Pearson, and New York State are trying to sell the public that you learn to teach, not by teaching, but by writing about it. They also want you to believe that they have perfected a magically algorithm that allows them to quickly, easily, and cheaply assess the writing package and accompanying video and instantly determine who if qualified to teach our children. Maybe they plan to sell the algorithm to Major League Baseball next.
“New York State is currently one of only two states that proposes to use edTPA to determine teacher certification. Not only should New York State postpone the implementation of edTPA, but it should withdraw from the Pearson, SCALE, Stanford project. edTPA distracts student teachers from the learning they must do on how to connect ideas to young people and undermines their preparation as teachers. Instead of learning to teach, they spend the first seven weeks of student teaching preparing their edTPA portfolios and learning to pass the test. Based on preliminary results on the first round of edTPA, most of our student teachers are pretty good at passing tests, so edTPA actually measured nothing.”
The most outspoken opponent of edTPA to date was Barbara Madeloni, a professor at the University of Massachusetts. After she won national attention for her resistance to outsourcing her job to Pearson, she was fired. As Michael Winerip wrote in the New York Times in 2012:
“Under the system being piloted, a for-profit education company hired by the state, like Pearson, would decide licensure based on two 10-minute videos that student teachers submit, as well as their score on a 40-page take-home test.”
“This is something complex and we don’t like seeing it taken out of human hands,” Ms. Madeloni said to me at the time.
“By protesting, she said, “We are putting a stick in the gears.” A total of 67 out of her 68 student teachers refused to submit their videos or take the test during last year’s trial run.
“On May 6, the article appeared in The Times; on May 24, she received a letter saying her contract would not be renewed for the 2013 year.”
Just a few weeks ago, Madeloni was elected president of the 110,000-member Massachusetts Teacher Association.
The times, they are a’changing. Maybe.