March 15, 2016

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A depressing, discouraging test

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View a video of the forum here!

A panel of past and present teacher education students described the edTPA teacher certification assessment in stark and distraught terms to top state higher education officials at a March 15 UUP forum at SUNY Oneonta that drew dozens of concerned educators.

“I’m stuck. I’m throwing away tens of thousands on my education, yet not even guaranteed that I will ever be able to teach,” Shyanne DeBaker, a student teacher and senior at Hartwick College struggling to complete the edTPA, told a roomful of educators and policy experts.

Dozens of educators and students from K-12 districts and public and private colleges were at the afternoon seminar. Regent Kathleen Cashin, UUP Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler; and Oneonta Chapter President William Simons and Vice President for Academics Rob Compton attended, as did State Education Department Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education John D’Agati and Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education Policy Jhone Ebert.

The event was hosted by UUP's Oneonta Chapter.

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Other students said they got no constructive criticism from their edTPA test scorer after failing the test; they were forced to retake the exam without knowing what they needed to improve. One student began crying as she explained that although she had passed the edTPA, the experience contributed so heavily to her growing distaste for the assessment-crazed state of the teaching profession in the United States that she has taken a teaching job in Spain.

Even those who are now teachers remembered the edTPA – or educative Teacher Performance Assessment – as a difficult hurdle.

Overtaking student teaching

“The edTPA was particularly objectionable because of what it took away from my student teaching experience,” said Peter Arruda, above, a graduate of SUNY Cobleskill and Oneonta who now teaches 7th grade social studies in Cobleskill. “I’ve seen many promising teachers seek employment out of state, or give up.”

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Neither D’Agati nor Ebert, above, second from right, offered public comments during the forum. Cashin, above, left, told the students and the audience that “the massive concern that I have is that the edTPA takes over student teaching.”

UUP has committed to continuing its forums and meetings with Regents, as it awaits information on SED’s recent announcement that the statewide task force on edTPA is expected to be reconvened this spring.

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