To the Editor:
A few months ago, Education Week Teacher‘s Living in Dialogue blog ran a guest post from Ann Schulte titled “Teacher Performance Assessment Isn’t the Answer” (Dec. 14, 2012) that raised a concern about Pearson’s packaged edTPA curriculum. The push toward a standardized national teacher-preparation quality assessment is currently playing out in edTPA field studies under way in my home state of Ohio.
While the educational community awaits the final analysis, the initial results are promising. However, it concerns me that the edTPA has drawn some fire by pulling in a third party to facilitate the process of hiring and training assessors, as well as collecting and scoring portfolios. Critics claim the third party has potential for too much control and untoward influence on the assessment.
While anyone having a monopoly on a national assessment is a reasonable cause for concern, it does not negate the need for a national assessment like the edTPA.
Furthermore, it would be difficult to argue convincingly against the need to outsource the operational administration for an assessment of this magnitude, since it takes considerable infrastructure and expert know-how.
The decision to take on an operational partner should not be interpreted as a move toward privatization of the test. The Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity, or SCALE, will continue to own the rights to the edTPA and to drive the development of rubrics and instruments of assessment through ongoing collaborations with K-12 teachers and research educators. The result of this operational partnership in assessment information is hosted on a secure platform governed with oversight.
Today, classified information is routinely shared securely and responsibly through electronic means, and this has improved accessibility and reduced costs.
Why not the edTPA? A standardized, national teacher-preparation quality assessment, which the edTPA promises to be, holds enormous potential for educational reform by normalizing the preparation assessment of young teachers. It is already driving collaborations that will raise the bar and help us provide the best preparation possible while simultaneously addressing cost.
Renée A. Middleton
The Patton College of Education
A version of this article appeared in the April 03, 2013 edition of Education Week as Assessment Holds ‘Enormous Potential’