When Nan Hill decided to give up her career of 30 years as a stained…
Want a virtual guarantee of acing your mandatory edTPA assessment, something required to gain licensure to teach in Illinois and several other states?
Come to NIU.
One hundred percent of NIU undergraduate students in teacher licensure programs during the spring 2016 semester passed the edTPA, a state-required measure of P-12 instructional capabilities.
Comparatively, the Illinois pass rate is 95 percent while the national pass rate is 89 percent.
Even more impressive is NIU’s average total score of 47.25, considering that the current passing score is 35. (That number will climb over the next three years until it tops out at 41.)
Jenny Parker, associate vice provost for the Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation at NIU, knows why Huskie teacher-candidates perform so well – beyond the fact that NIU students are already fabulous.
“One is the support from our faculty who have really committed to student success on the edTPA,” Parker said.
“The second is being able to have a full-time edTPA coordinator who’s been readily available to do workshops and webinars and to provide whatever support has been needed. We also couldn’t do it without the support of our school districts. They have been awesome,” she added.
“We have a lot of institutional pride in our student success and in our faculty and coordinator contributions. Our programs have committed to integrating – early and often – the skills needed for teaching with both internal and external support.”
Included in that support is a staff member – Judy Boisen, associate director for edTPA in the NIU Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation – dedicated to helping NIU teacher-candidates succeed on the new, three-part assessment.
Boisen, who previously taught high school science for 35 years, conducts edTPA workshops for students, university supervisors and NIU faculty. Supervisors and faculty also are provided edTPA data to determine what is going right, where improvement is needed and how to incorporate those realizations into their curricula.
She’s also created a PowerPoint series for cooperating teachers in the K-12 schools that stresses the importance of the edTPA and their role in that process.
The Spring 2017 semester will introduce a new, one-credit course on understanding the expectations of the edTPA. Teacher-candidates from all disciplines will benefit.
Andrea Hein, coordinator of educator licensure in the School of Health Studies, appreciates the assistance.
“All of our students passed the edTPA last school year. A large part of that success is due to the resources and efforts of Judy Boisen,” Hein said. “Judy has worked closely with our instructors and me to help us develop resources and materials to implement in our courses. She has talked to our students regularly about the edTPA, and even helped us to give appropriate and constructive feedback while the students are working on their edTPAs.”
What is the edTPA?
Designed by the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity, it has been required in Illinois since the fall of 2015. Teacher-candidates must submit evidence for review in three categories: planning, instruction and assessment.
- Submissions regarding planning include actual lesson plans the candidates developed during their student-teaching experiences as well as the supporting materials for, and critiques of, those plans.
- To judge their instruction, teacher-candidates must film during their delivery of three to five lessons to demonstrate how they support their students and engage them in learning.
- Evidence of assessing student learning includes students’ results on assessments that correspond to those lesson objectives; examples of rich feedback given to students as well as opportunities offered to help students use that feedback to advance their learning; and subsequent plans for further instruction based on the assessment analysis.
Nearly 700 education programs in 38 states and the District of Columbia are participating in edTPA.
Thirteen of those states require a state-approved performance assessment for program completion of licensure; the rest are taking steps toward implementation or exploring using the edTPA as a performance assessment.
“The edTPA isn’t really a new concept. It is what good teaching is all about,” said Hein, from the College of Health and Human Sciences.
“We just needed to get familiar with new terms, but the concept is the same, we plan, teach, assess, reflect and re-teach,” she added. “I think the edTPA helped all instructors and professors in teacher licensure programs to reflect on our own way of teaching and make sure we were modelling effective teaching practices.”
Renee Olsen, coordinator of educator licensure in the NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences, housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has discovered that her students “are much more diligent in diving into their clinical experience from Day One.”
“Our program always had high expectations for our students, but the high stakes of the edTPA ‘forces’ our students to really take what we say seriously,” Olsen said.
“They really want to get to teach more, videotape more and grade classroom quizzes and tests,” she added. “It is my goal to help my students recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and to push them to make improvements in any weak areas.”
Jeff Chan, coordinator of special education programs in the NIU College of Education’s Department of Special and Early Education, said “it’s important for our students to achieve high scores to show employers that they are ready and able to take on the role of full-time teachers.”
“Special education students are performing well on the edTPA,” Chan added, “because they are able to demonstrate the high-quality teaching methods that they’ve been practicing for several semesters in their early clinical placements leading up to student-teaching.”
“Over the years, we have learned how to incorporate aspects of the edTPA into our methods coursework so that students are becoming familiar with it prior to the high-stakes semester of student-teaching,” Doherty said.
“We want our students to move from thinking about themselves and what they want to accomplish to thinking about what their students need and how to set them up for success,” she added. “This is not an easy transition for young teachers, but the edTPA promotes good teaching in that it expects teacher candidates to engage all learners fully, scaffold learning experiences, to teach and assess in multiple ways and to critically reflect on the student experience and ways to improve it.”
– Mark McGowan, NIU Newsroom