A new assessment for students seeking teacher certification in New York state has been causing controversy. Implementation of the educative teacher performance assessment, known as edTPA, has been delayed. But some are saying the assessment still has unresolved issues.
The new assessment was scheduled to become a requirement for teacher certification on May 1. But the New York State Board of Regents made a last-minute decision to implement a safety net for students who fail the edTPA, so they can still earn initial certification.
Thanks to the safety net, teacher candidates who don't pass the edTPA the first time can get a five-year certification by passing another test. But they will have to retake the edTPA before that deadline. The safety net is in place until July 2015.
United University Professions, the union that represents professors at the State University of New York, supports the delay. In March, the union called for the test’s delay and criticized the edTPA , saying it was rolled out too quickly.
Jamie Dangler, vice president for academics at UUP, said teacher educators should have been consulted more.
"Our overall concern is that the edTPA has been imposed without adequate consultation of teacher educators,” Dangler said.
The delay will now provide time for the test to be studied further. The Board of Regents has also made the decision to create a task force to consider changes to the test.
Dangler said prior to this delay there had not been enough time to address potential problems, since the test was chosen by the state education department in March 2012.
But the state education department disagrees, and says that there has been ample time for preparation. In 2009, New York began creation of its own performance assessment. In 2012, they chose the edTPA instead.
According to Stephanie Wood-Garnett, assistant commissioner of teacher and leader effectiveness in the Office of Higher Education at the New York State Education Department, the goal is to make sure new teachers are effective in the classroom before they are certified.
"New York state educators have had not only our own developed performance experiences, but they also then, when we adopted the edTPA had the opportunity to pilot that assessment as well,” Wood-Garnett said.
According to Wood-Garnett, the edTPA will ensure teachers are effective since it emphasizes performance.
"We know that the most important factor in any student's success is the quality of their teachers,” Wood-Garnett said. “So we are working hard to support our programs and our candidates and make certain that our teachers are able to support all kids so that they graduate from high school college-and-career ready."
Dangler said that for UUP, the controversy and timing of the edTPA’s rollout has been reminiscent of Common Core.
"We have gone on record asking for not only a delay in implementation but also for [the state education department] to address concerns about the validity of the edTPA,” Dangler said.
Dangler said the delay will help the spring graduates, who have had the least amount of time to prepare. Now they have the safety net to fall back on as well.
"It's the short-term problem of helping this current class of students, who really have been victimized by a very poor rollout of the edTPA,” Dangler said. “So that's our immediate concern, is to not hold them hostage to what has been very poor decision making on the part of the state education department."