New York State is changing the way the teacher certification process takes place, mainly in relation to the edTPA (standardized) Assessment, and Houghton College students Emily Wendell and Erica Cope have had some early success in passing the new requirements.
Cope, a senior inclusive childhood education major at Houghton College explained the edTPA as a type of portfolio. “I completed it during my student teaching semester in the fall,” she said. “This has to be done while in a classroom because it required the teaching of two mini units.”
Martin Coates, assistant professor of education at Houghton College said that the edTPA Assessment is a portfolio of a “slice in time” of the teacher candidate’s teaching. “It consists of several components, including a written description of the classroom and learning context, lesson plans, a classroom video showing the way the teacher candidate engages students, an analysis of students’ assessments, and a reflection on the candidate’s teaching and his or her students’ learning.”
The central focus of edTPA is on student learning in a subject area. In each subject area edTPA requires content aligned with New York State Standards and Common Core Standards as well as evidence of specific learning.
“In addition, teacher candidates must explain the thinking underlying their teaching decisions, make visible the strategies they use to connect students with content, and analyze student performance and adjust their teaching accordingly. While doing all of those tasks, they must ensure support for students with special learning needs and with diverse academic, cultural, linguistic and socio-economic backgrounds,” Coates said.
The edTPA is just one of the multiple assessments that must take place in order for a teacher to be certified in New York State. Emily Wendell, an inclusive childhood education major with a math concentration at Houghton College explained that each exam is very different. “The Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST) assessed my own personal literacy skills by asking me to read and respond to various passages,” she said.
“The Multi-Subject Content Specialty Test (CST) assessed my knowledge of all elementary-level subject areas through stand-alone multiple choice questions and an essay. The Educating All Students (EAS) assessed my knowledge of diverse student populations including English Language Learners and students with disabilities by having me read and interpret lesson plans, anecdotal records and assessment data. The CST Students with Disabilities assessed my knowledge as a future special educator through stand-alone multiple choice questions and an essay.”
The process is an involved and expensive one, costing about $1,000 if the student passes all exams the first time. “Pending that I pass all of the exams that I’ve taken, I will be done with the testing process,” Cope said. “I also have to get fingerprint clearance, then after graduation, apply for my actual certification from New York State.”
Wendell plans to go straight to graduate school, unless a job presents itself, while Cope plans to look for a teaching position and complete a master’s within five years as required by the state.