The Houston Independent School District’s teacher evaluation system has come under legal fire from seven teachers who claim that “the system is flawed, ineffective and insulting.” In the HISD’s Educational Value Added Assessment System, or EVAAS, a teacher’s score is based on a student’s academic growth throughout the year and it relies heavily on how the students perform on standardized tests.
“We contend that threatening a teacher with termination based on a low EVAAS score is akin to threatening a teacher because it rained on the day of their evaluation. It’s that arbitrary,” said Craig Dietz, an attorney representing the teachers.
We at Co-Opt-Ed are befuddled by what is happening in Albany. If you haven’t heard, the Board of Regents ruled on a modification to full edTPA implementation. What? It seems to us that politics are playing out now and it becomes harder to see the extent to which voices from the field are really being heard. We are eager to see what comes out of the hearings that, as far as we know, are still on for today in Albany.
Here are some of the reports we’ve been following:
For those of you venturing to Albany to represent teacher educators at this Wednesday’s hearings, the UUP have created a very helpful toolkit. Please share and encourage those who cannot attend in person to submit a testimonial as described.
Dear Task Force members,
Please distribute the information below and the attachments as widely as possible. The Assembly Hearing notice was posted today. People have to sign up if they want to testify. They can send written testimony if they can’t appear in person.
SIGN UP TO TESTIFY IN ALBANY AT THE ASSEMBLY HEARING ON edTPA and other new certification requirements
edTPA HEARING INFORMATION:
On April 30 at 10:30am the New York State Assembly Committees on Higher Education and Education are holding a hearing on the new statewide teacher and school building leader certification requirements. The committees are seeking testimony examining the changes in the teacher certification process, the preparedness of teacher preparation programs, and the impact on future teachers.
If you would like to attend the hearing, it will be held at the Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor, Hamilton Hearing Room B, Albany, NY.
If you would like to attend and present testimony at the hearing, you must complete a form and email it to the Assembly at email@example.com.
‘…the implementation of [the edTPA] has been problematic because it has come so quickly and it has made people very, very anxious about what is it they have to do as student teachers,” Veve said [Margaret Veve, coordinator of student teaching at SUNY New Paltz]. “It’s a double-edged sword — it can be positive, but with the difficulties of implementing it, the benefits are not outweighing what I’ve seen so far.’
Student teachers say they are having a hard time trying to figure out how to put together their portfolios and submit them to Pearson, the international testing giant administering the assessments.
“To put together edTPA while student teaching is absolutely ridiculous,” [student, Tom] Pinto said. “I’m worried about passing.”
“I have never seen a level of anxiety approaching this,” said Ken Lindblom, director of a training program for English teachers at Stony Brook University. Lindblom, an associate English professor, emphasized that he was speaking for himself, not the university.
You’ve likely heard rumors that the new edTPA exam is some big scary project that is time intensive,
difficult to pass, and expensive. Well, I’m here to tell you that those rumors are absolutely true.
First, it’s big. The assessment comes in a 50-page booklet explaining the assessment. The edTPA is made up of three tasks (Planning, Instruction, Assessment), each task is evaluated under five rubrics of five points each for a total of 15 rubrics….
Second, it’s scary. The edTPA is one of the new certification exams much like the CST, EAS, and ALST. Teachers cannot get their initial certification until they pass all four certification exams….
Melissa Howard, senior education major at SUNY Cortland, has been circulating a petition online urging the State Education Department to suspend the implementation of edTPA until more details of the system have been fully worked out. The petition cites issues with the language of the rubric, the video portion and the fact that the test is administered by Pearson.
“Basically, a textbook company is deciding if we get to become teachers, which I think is not really fair,” she said. “I think it’s another way for them to make money off of public education as a private company.”
Alan Singer, a social studies educator at Hofstra University, gives a detailed account of the problematic edTPA field test that four of his secondary education social studies teachers experienced. He reports on the multiple level of problems, starting with the mysterious assessment criteria against which student teachers will be measured. And mysterious is the word– no one knows. What is known is only the magic number for passing.
University faculty who are supposed to prepare new teachers can only guess why the students who participated in the field test received the scores they received and how to help students improve in the future.
It is time to confront the wizards of the edTPA, which is finally under due scrutiny in New York. Here on Co-Opt-Ed, we saw over 1000 hits on our post about Linda Darling-Hammond’s criticism of New York’s implementation. It is time for action. Here are concrete steps you can take:
Share your story with the NYSUT, who is compiling stories from student teachers, professors, educators, and communities.
Attend the Assembly’s hearings on the edTPA next week in Albany at 10:30AM. More information is forthcoming.
We have heard reports of NYSED members continuing to blame schools of education for the challenges of edTPA implementation. Our position is clear: NYSED took Race to the Top money without thinking through how it would affect the public and have been systematically botching the Common Core roll-out, teacher evaluation implementation, data sharing with inBloom, and now the edTPA.
At a recent educational research conference, Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond shocked an audience with her candid response to a question about New York State’s implementation of teacher education reform. Here’s how Alexandra Miletta retells the moment:
When asked about the fast pace of implementation by teacher educator Fran Spielhagen at a session of the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting on April 5th, Linda Darling Hammond said, “New York is a prototype of how not to implement teacher performance assessment” (this prompted a big audience reaction), “and some of us have been very engaged in speaking to the policy community there about how they ought to be rethinking some aspects of that, and I think you will see some things at the next Regents’ meeting that are hopefully a result of those conversations.” She went on to explain, “The New York situation is that this year they have introduced four new tests. Three of them are the multiple choice, bubble in, typical tests that we’ve become familiar with, and I’m told, by those that have looked at the data, that they’re where most of the failure rate is going to come from.”
Two separate pieces ran in regional papers this past week, signaling the fact that the edTPA is joining the list of flawed implementations courtesy of the state education department. One piece in LoHud begins:
A bill in the state Assembly would delay for one year a requirement that would-be teachers pass a new video-based exam before certification.
College education programs and students have expressed great concern that they have not been given enough time to prepare for the test, which the state Education Department sees as….
Another piece published this past Friday in the White Plains Journal also raised local awareness of the teacher certification issues.
Many thanks to Lower Hudson Journal News for capturing the problem of the edTPA implementation in New York. Here’s how they frame it:
As a parent of one of the thousands of teaching candidates graduating in May and most immediately impacted by New York’s edTPA certification test, I implore the state Department of Education and the Board of Regents to own up to their mistakes by immediately ending this statewide travesty. Both bodies must acknowledge another major flaw with edTPA’s rollout — the severe lack of preparation time provided to colleges and students.