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After successfully participating in both the pilot phase and an expanded field test of a new, national-level assessment, University of Wyoming teacher education programs are ready to implement that comprehensive process with their 2013 graduates.
Students completing select teacher education programs at UW helped shape the edTPA (formerly the Teacher Performance Assessment), developed by Stanford University in collaboration with teachers and teacher educators across the United States.
UW contributed to the evolution of edTPA from its beginning. Students in one section of elementary literacy methods and the social studies education program took part in the assessment’s pilot phase in spring 2011. UW’s participation expanded in 2012, during the national field test. Preservice teachers in elementary education, English education, social studies education, mathematics education and science education submitted portfolios for review.
Students participating in edTPA submit electronic portfolios for detailed review and scoring by trained evaluators. Teacher candidates must demonstrate proficiency in a range of classroom skills, such as planning around standards, student-centered instructional design, lesson delivery, assessment of student work, and evaluation of student learning.
“This is actually assessing whether or not you can perform all of those duties of a teacher,” says Allen Trent, UW associate dean for undergraduate studies. “Are you planning? Are you teaching in ways that meet the learning needs of all students? Are you assessing what you’re trying to teach? Are you then able to provide feedback to students that continues their learning trajectory, based on what you learned in those assessments?”
One of the benefits of early involvement is greater general insight into every aspect of the process.
“We’re continuing to get better at it, we’re continuing to know more about it, and we’re continuing to integrate it throughout the program,” Trent says. The result is greater understanding of the developmental value to the student who will someday be in a classroom setting.
A task force is developing a comprehensive plan for embedding elements of edTPA across the curriculum.
“We’re going to be more detailed about what we expect to happen at each level,” Trent says. “How does that curriculum spiral throughout our program?”
The task force also is working to incorporate evaluation data into the college’s new evaluation/grading/reporting system.
Trent expects finding a strong fit between edTPA assessment elements and the undergraduate programs as they now are constructed.
“The things that we are already doing should directly be preparing students to understand and be successful on this,” Trent says. “If they’re not, those are things we need to know.”
As part of the pilot and field-test processes, several undergraduate faculty members already have embedded elements resembling edTPA into coursework across curricula, sharing what they are learning with their peers. Other instructors are identifying ways to take the same step.
While Wyoming and many other states do not now require completion of edTPA for licensure, Trent expects the new tool to play an increasingly important role in evaluating and preparing preservice teachers.
“I anticipate that it will carry increasing weight, the more that we know about the assessment and the more that we feel that our students are prepared for it,” he says.