On February 11th, 2022, the Texas Board for Educator Certification approved a proposal for the phased transition from the PPR teacher certification exam to the edTPA. If the edTPA proposal is adopted by the State Board of Education in June, the exam would be phased in over the next three years, being required for certification by the 2024-2025 school year. Several stakeholders in Texas education have spoken in opposition to adopting the edTPA as a high-stakes requirement, citing concerns such as: cost, validity, effects on teacher preparation programs, implications for special education programs, and potentially harmful effects on the diversity of the teacher workforce (Brown & DeMatthews, 2022; Gitomer et al., 2021; McFarland, 2022; Teachers of Tomorrow, 2020). We urge the Texas State Board of Education to deny the proposal to adopt the edTPA exam when it is formally proposed in June 2022 due to the lack of evidence-base, weaknesses in conceptual design, and potential negative impact on Texas teachers and schools.
Overview of the edTPA
Developed through the collaboration of Pearson Education, AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) and SCALE (Stanford Center for Assessment Learning and Equity), the edTPA is designed to measure teacher candidate skills in lesson planning, instruction, and assessment of student learning. To complete the exam, teacher candidates submit a portfolio including evidence of their lesson planning, written reflection on student learning, and recorded videos totaling less than twenty minutes of their classroom instruction over three to five days.
edTPA Red Flags from Other States
In 2013, after two years of field testing, the edTPA was declared “fully operational and ready for use across the country” (Pearson Education, 2021); the test has since been adopted as a teacher certification requirement in more than twenty states (AACTE, 2021). However, several states, including New York and Georgia, have already adopted and then rescinded the edTPA exam as a requirement for teacher certification citing severe shortages in the teacher workforce and ongoing issues with implementation as significant reasons for moving away from edTPA assessments (New York State Education Department, 2022; Office of the Governor, 2020).
Criticisms of edTPA’s Approach to Teaching and Learning
While the multiple-choice PPR exam has been criticized for not assessing the practical skills required in the teaching profession, the edTPA assessment has been criticized as to whether it meaningfully assesses the skills that constitute a successful teacher or represents best practices in the field. Advocates of the edTPA argue that it will orient teacher education programs to include more practical experience. However, adding the edTPA learning outcomes to courses eliminates time for prospective teachers to learn about other vital material such as culturally responsive teaching (Bartlett et al., 2017). Kuranishi & Oyler (2017) analyze a graded edTPA exam which was marked as “fail”, despite the special education teacher candidate having received glowing reviews in their teacher preparation program. In their conclusion, the authors suggest the possibility of “conflicts between [the edTPA] and the aims and practices of inclusive education” (Kuranishi & Oyler, 2017, p. 299).
Practical Challenges of the edTPA
Navigating the technical aspect of editing and formatting the video content can cause additional stress without substantial benefit to the students involved in the lesson (Bergstrand Othman et al., 2017). Additionally, teacher candidates can easily alter the original lesson plan to better fit the recording before submitting the portfolio. The recorded component also suffers from technical issues, leading to poor performance or non-scoreable products (Burns & Lindauer, 2015; Hildebrandt & Swanson, 2016). An analysis of the first five years of national edTPA assessment data raised concerns about the reliability of scoring and the overall scoring design, concluding that the “proposed and actual uses of the edTPA are currently unwarranted on technical grounds (Gitomer et al., 2021).
edTPA Across Community Contexts
Scholars have also questioned whether edTPA assessment through a one-rater use of a standardized rubric can accurately assess teaching as it relates to divergent school environments and policies, student and teacher characteristics, and pedagogic approaches (Bergstrand Othman et al., 2017). For example, a study in Washington State found that Hispanic teacher candidates were three times more likely to fail the edTPA than white colleagues (Goldhaber et al., 2017). This is concerning given that Hispanic teachers are already underrepresented in Texas, a state with a significant number of Hispanic students (National Center for Education Statistics, n.d.).
Adopting the exam is likely to negatively affect the volume and diversity of the teacher workforce as it requires an increased time commitment, more technology, and additional financial resources. Each edTPA exam costs $311, over $200 more than the one-time PPR. Retaking the edTPA can cost between $100 and $300 depending on the sections to be repeated. The edTPA is not the only teacher examination required for hire, especially for education specialists; for example, ESL teacher candidates “face a minimum of 6 different assessments, including the edTPA, even if they are native Spanish speakers” (Community Foundation of Texas, 2021, p. 2). This additional time commitment represents an added stress to institutions of learning in the context of an ongoing pandemic in which a significant number of teachers have indicated they intend to either leave the profession soon or take early retirement (GBAO Strategies, 2022).
edTPA Means More Oversight
In preparation for the June decision, we also urge the Texas State Board for Educator Certification to develop a robust support system for the teacher workforce and teacher education programs in anticipation of the risks of adopting the edTPA (The Education Trust, 2021). If the exam is integrated into the certification process, the financial support offered by TEA in the pilot period must be streamlined and expanded, especially for areas of shortage such as bilingual instruction and special education. Additionally, policy should include intentional and flexible timing of edTPA deadlines to avoid co-occurrence with other stressors such as standardized testing (Communities Foundation of Texas, 2021).
edTPA is Not for Texas
Ultimately, edTPA is not the best option for Texas schools, teachers, and teacher training programs. For the reasons outlined here, adopting edTPA would have drastic consequences for an already precarious teacher workforce situation that demands a better designed teacher certification exam.
- AACTE. (2021). State edTPA Policy Overview. https://secure.aacte.org/apps/rl/res_get.php?fid=1014&ref=edtpa
- Bartlett, M., Otis-Wilborn, A., & Peters, L. (2017). Bending or Breaking: Appropriating edTPA policy in special education teacher education. Teacher Education and Special Education, 40(4), 287-298. https://doi.org/10.1177/0888406417720188
- Bergstrand Othman, L., Robinson, R., & Molfenter, N. F. (2017). Emerging Issues with Consequential Use of the edTPA: Overall and through a special education lens. Teacher Education and Special Education, 40(4), 269-277. https://doi.org/10.1177/0888406417718251
- Brown, C. & DeMatthews, D. (2022, February 21). New Teacher Certification Exam Will Hurt Texas Education. UT News. https://news.utexas.edu/2022/02/21/new-teacher-certification-exam-will-hurt-texas-education/
- Burns, B. A., Henry, J. J., & Lindauer, J. R. (2015). Working Together to Foster Candidate Success on the edTPA. Journal of Inquiry and Action in Education, 6(2), 2.
- Community Foundation of Texas (2021). edTPA Pilot Implementation: Challenges and Recommendations. https://www.edtx.org/EducateTexas/media/epp/Resources/2021-10-edtpa_pilot_implementation_findings_EPPs.pdf
- GBAO Strategies. (2022). Poll Results: Stress and burnout pose threat of educator shortages, National Education Association. https://www.nea.org/sites/default/files/2022-02/NEA%20Member%20COVID-19%20Survey%20Summary.pdf
- Gitomer, D. H., Martínez, J. F., Battey, D., & Hyland, N. E. (2021). Assessing the Assessment: Evidence of reliability and validity in the edTPA. American Educational Research Journal, 58(1), 3-31. https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831219890608
- Goldhaber, D., Cowan, J., & Theobald, R. (2017). Evaluating prospective teachers: Testing the predictive validity of the edTPA. Journal of Teacher Education, 68(4), 377-393. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487117702582
- Hildebrandt, S. A., & Swanson, P. B. (2016). Understanding the World Language edTPA: Research based policy and practice. IAP.
- Office of the Governor. (2020, June 18). Georgia Streamlines Certification for Educators. Press Releases. https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-06-18/georgia-streamlines-certification-educators#:~:text=Atlanta%2C%20GA%20%2D%20On%20Thursday%2C,get%20certified%20in%20the%20state.
- Kissau, S., Hart, L. C., & Algozzine, B. (2019). Investigating the Impact of edTPA Professional Development on Classroom Practice and Student Teaching Experience. Journal of Teacher Education, 70(2), 102-114. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487117721706
- Kuranishi, A., & Oyler, C. (2017). I Failed the edTPA. Teacher Education and Special Education, 40(4), 299-313.
- McFarland, S. (2022, February 22). Texas Education Advocates Fear New Certification Test Could Affect Teacher Diversity. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/crossroads-lab/article258542993.html
- National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). Race and Ethnicity of Public School Teachers and their Students. Retrieved January 20, 2022 at https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2020/2020103/index.asp
- New York State Education Department. (2022, April 12). edTPA Certification Requirement. http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/certificate/certexamsedtpa.html
- Pearson Education. (2021). About edTPA. https://edtpa.org/about
- State Board for Educator Certification (2022). Item 19: Proposed Amendment to 19 TAC Chapter 230, Professional Educator Preparation and Certification, Subchapter C, Assessment of Educators, §230.21, Educator Assessment. Texas Education Agency. https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/feb-agenda-item-19.pdf
- Texas Education Agency. (2022). Texas edTPA Pilot. https://tea.texas.gov/texas-educators/certification/educator-testing/texas-edtpa-pilot
- Teachers of Tomorrow. (2020, February 14). EdTPA Studies. https://www.teachersoftomorrow.org/blog/insights/edtpa-studies
- The Education Trust. (2021). Joint Testimony from Texas Education Advocates on edTPA as a Certification Exam for Standard Teacher Certifications. https://edtrust.org/press-release/joint-testimony-from-texas-education-advocates-on-edtpa-as-a-certification-exam-for-standard-teacher-certifications/