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March 26, 2014

UUP calls for suspension of edTPA certification mandate

– United University Professions, the union that represents faculty at the State University of New York, including those involved in teacher education programs, today called for the immediate suspension of the edTPA teacher certification mandate, the new high-stakes testing requirement for student teachers that takes effect May 1.

The union also released a new four-page question-and-answer fact sheet that refutes claims by the state Education Department that the state’s teacher education programs had “ample time” to prepare students for the edTPA, a complex test that includes written work and videos of candidates interacting with K-12 students. Parental consent needed for videos is a major hurdle for many student teachers.

“Our research makes it clear the SED’s claim that edTPA was ready to go is nothing but a myth,” said UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D. “Student teachers and the faculty who teach them are being set up for failure. SED has set a passing score that is expected to result in a failure rate as high as 40 percent. If students fail it will be because of SED’s rush to implement a poorly thought out plan.”

UUP is widely distributing the fact sheet to state lawmakers and news media in an effort to persuade SED to suspend the edTPA mandate. UUP has also called for a legislative hearing to address the situation. The union hopes lawmakers, in turn, will push the state Board of Regents to make SED drop the testing requirement.

SED continues to imply that the edTPA initiative dates back to 2009, but the Board of Regents did not decide to require edTPA until March 2012. That start date, along with delays and substantive problems with materials needed to implement the new assessment, were significant roadblocks to preparing May 2014 graduates for the edTPA. Colleges could not have begun making the serious changes needed to integrate this new assessment into their programs until after the fall 2012 semester.

UUP’s Q & A uses SED’s own documentation to prove that teacher education programs were not given enough time or adequate guidance to prepare May 2014 graduates for the new test.

Among the key points in UUP’s fact sheet:

  • Final edTPA handbooks were not available until fall 2013 in some subject areas, and information is still incomplete in some programs.
  • Many campuses did not begin their first edTPA pilots until spring 2013. Campuses ran into problems, and SED has not yet addressed all those problems
  • There is no evidence to indicate that the edTPA identifies quality teachers any better than existing certification requirements.

Kowal noted that there are three other certification exams required of May 2014 teacher education graduates.

“UUP does support a rigorous evaluation of student teachers before they are certified to teach in New York,” Kowal said. “But we cannot stand by and watch this flawed process move forward that could dramatically undermine the professional futures of thousands of would-be teachers. We call on SED to drop the edTPA as a certification requirement.”

UUP’s edTPA fact sheet is on the union’s website at It is also available at

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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