New performance-based assessment prepares WVU teacher candidates for successful careers


Teacher candidates at the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University are gaining a new measure of quality for their education and preparedness.  Beginning in the fall of 2017, most teacher candidates will be required to participate in a performance based assessment called edTPA. 

edTPA is the premier teacher candidate support and assessment program in the nation.  Led by the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE), the assessment ensures that the incoming teacher workforce is prepared to meet the academic needs of all students.

“In addition to the quality preparation our program currently provides, such as clinical evaluations, content knowledge exams, and mentor support, edTPA will allow us to measure the readiness of our teacher candidates and inform us on their progress,” said Dr. Bernard Jones, Program Director of Assessment for Educator Preparation at the college.  “Our students will leave the program with a greater depth of knowledge about what it means to walk into their own classroom and will be able to provide leadership to students and to colleagues early in their careers.”

edTPA focuses on three elements: planning, assessment and instruction, which according to Jones are things any good teacher candidate should be focusing on in their classroom.  Teacher candidates at WVU will spend their first years in the program focusing on their coursework and gaining field experience.  Then in their senior year, when teacher candidates begin student teaching, edTPA will be introduced. 

CEHS began trials of edTPA with teacher candidates in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, and physical education in 2015.  Teacher candidates were required to submit three video-recorded lessons and other “artifacts”, such as lesson plans and student assessment tools, to external edTPA scorers. 

“Unlike other certification exams edTPA is performance-based, so it allows us to examine how teacher candidates are translating their knowledge into practice,” stated Jones.  “In the fall, we had a total of 35 teacher candidates that participated in the trials.  The candidate’s average scores were between 35.5-37.8.  These scores showed that our candidates and programs are on target in meeting the demands of edTPA.” 

In the state of West Virginia, all teacher education preparation programs are required to include some form of a performance based assessment to evaluate teacher candidate’s presentation of a lesson during their practicum experience. According to Laura Porter, Assistant Dean of Student Services at CEHS, the college choose edTPA because of its national recognition. 

“edTPA is currently being used in 35 states and the District of Columbia.  The state of West Virginia approves the program, but to date WVU is the first institution to adopt the program,” stated Porter. “We are excited to implement the program for our state, bringing prepared and nationally competitive teachers into classrooms.”

As a subject-specific performance assessment, edTPA provides a way to assess all teachers differently.  The program measures skills for 27 different teaching fields, acknowledging that a history teacher would not approach instruction the same as a math teacher or that a kindergarten teacher would not communicate with their students the same as a high school art teacher. 

 “Like a lawyer must pass the bar and a doctor pass medical board exams, edTPA allows teacher candidates to be competitive in a professional career, while recognizing their individual pathway of practice,” said Jones.  “Our graduates want to achieve high-level professional experience and pay.  This assessment will help set a standard of accountability to delivering high-quality education.” 

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