Sunday, March 29, 2020

How Pearson's revision of the EdTPA teacher certification process will create inequities for teachers being trained in districts with poor students by John Elfrank-Dana

Important update!  The NY State Education Dept. just released guidance for educator preparation programs (EPPs) that if their teaching candidates are unable to complete their school clinical experience due to issues related to COVID-19, they can develop and file  plans outlining  alternative models of clinical experiences.

In order for NY teachers to get certification to teach, they have to produce a performance portfolio, called an EdTPA (Education Teacher Performance Assessment) administered by Pearson, an for-profit corporation who his handing the administration of this exam across the country. They charge the student teachers $300 to process their EdTPA.
Since the closure of schools throughout the states, these teacher candidates cannot complete their EdTPA in the normal way, that is via teaching lessons in the classroom, videoing some of the lessons to submit along with extended responses to questions in the assessment. Now, Pearson has said that under these novel circumstances, that student teachers may submit evidence of teaching practice via social media of their schools’ platform that links students at home with their teacher, that show video recordings of teachers engaging students in online live and asynchronous activities from home that address the standards in the EdTPA rubrics. 
This modification by Pearson presupposes these schools and districts, let alone the students, have access to high speed internet with relatively new laptops with web cams and their district a subscription to services like Google Classroom to provide the platform, which many do not. We have heard of the “digital divide”, the fact that many are not able to participate in the social media, Web 2.0, virtual world. That is still with us, as is evidenced by the need of NYC to hand out hundreds of thousands of devices (tablets and laptops) to students who do not have access. Add to that reports from some of my student teachers in NYC and Poughkeepsie that they are told by the mentor teachers in those districts that transitioning to online is not possible. Either the teachers were never trained on how to do online education and/or the districts schools and students lack the means available to do so. 
So, student teachers are short-changed if they teach poorer students, not to mention their students who will miss out on continuing their studies. Some schools resort to sending home packets for students to complete, which are so basic they don’t qualify as educationally engaging enough for EdTPA submission.
What should happen is that student teachers be given temporary certification for 1 year to complete their EdTPA in the fall and spring when they are in their own classes. Perhaps Pearson is concerned about cash flow and are not included in the bailout scheme. But, the current solution will leave many behind who are on the wrong side of the Digital Divide.

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John Elfrank-Dana,  Adjunct Lecturer/Field Supervisor
Department of Curriculum & Teaching
Hunter College of the City University of New York
www.Elfrank.net

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