Candidate to Candidate: Reflections on Taking edTPA

New York State requires teacher candidates to pass edTPA for initial certification. edTPA is a performance-based assessment available in 27 teaching areas that requires teacher candidates to demonstrate teaching skills – through authentic artifacts of teaching, written commentary and an unedited video – in several areas that research has shown to support student learning. It is designed to supplement course completion requirements and exams of subject-area knowledge.

To help candidates and their institutions understand and prepare for this new assessment process, four teacher candidates, all of whom are now practicing teachers, were asked to reflect on their experiences participating in the New York State field test of edTPA.

The interviews were facilitated by Nicole Barrick Renner, former research associate for the Stanford Center on Assessment, Learning and Equity, which has led the development of edTPA. Nicole asked the field test participants to talk about major takeaways, biggest challenges and decision points and to offer advice to other candidates for successfully completing the edTPA process.

The teacher candidates are:

Roshawna Cooper, Lehman College
Alexandra Murphy, Buffalo State College
Kai Johnson, Bank Street College
Peter Turner, The City College of New York

Introductions of the Teacher Candidates

Nicole Barrick Renner asked four teacher candidates who participated in New York State edTPA to introduce themselves and talk about their student-teacher placements and the teaching segments they used during the field test.

Challenges to Successfully Completing edTPA

Completing the edTPA process is rigorous, just like real classroom teaching. Teacher candidates from teacher preparation programs who participated in the New York State edTPA field test candidly shared some of the frustrations and challenges they encountered on the way to completing edTPA. These challenges included new vocabulary, technology glitches, and feeling overwhelmed by short timeframes.

“You make mistakes. You reflect on your mistakes. That’s how you learn to be a successful and effective teacher.”

Takeaways from the edTPA Experience

Nicole Barrick Renner asked teacher candidates who recently participated in the New York State field test of edTPA what lessons and practices they will bring to their classrooms as a result of their experience with the edTPA process. The answers reflect how they think edTPA connects to effective teaching, student assessment and lesson planning, and whether edTPA prepared them for real classrooms.

“edTPA really, really prepared me for what to expect in the field of teaching.”

Decision Points for Candidates during the edTPA Process

edTPA is not a single event or exam. It is a learning process that culminates with a capstone assessment. Along the way, several decisions must be made about timing, logistics, and strategies. New York teacher candidates who completed the process discussed these key decision points and strategies for successfully anticipating and confronting them.

“It is high stakes, but there are different ways to do it well.”

Advice for Candidates Preparing for edTPA

Candidates will rely on instructors and cooperating teachers for help and support throughout the edTPA process. Participants in the New York State field test of edTPA offer thoughts and ideas on what institutions, faculty, and cooperating teachers can do to help make the edTPA experience a smooth, collaborative, and educative process for all involved.

“Something higher education really needs to think about is reflection … The value of the assessment to the individual is in thinking about what I did well, what I can do differently, how I can assess differently.”