Controversial state-mandated testing isn’t only making waves among grade-school educators; SUNY Oneonta officials say it has now made its way into universities with the installation of a rigorous new teacher-certification exam.
The edTPA, or Education Teacher Performance Assessment, is the new exam education majors in student teaching must pass to get their initial teaching certification. But the test is catching flak from educators, students and union representatives for being unreasonably difficult and too expensive. More than 200 SUNY Oneonta education majors who are currently in student-teaching placements across the state will have to pass the exam to receive certification.
Dennis Banks, department chair of secondary education at SUNY Oneonta, said the concept behind the edTPA — better teacher preparation — is terrific and something he fully supports. However, he said, he does not like how it’s being used, because setting the stakes so high for such an exam is problematic.
The test is a performance assessment for teachers-to-be, Banks said. It has previously been used to evaluate how students are progressing and how a college’s education program is working, but now, he said, the test is a requirement. Scores directly affect whether an individual will receive certification.
Richard Lee, interim dean of Education and Human Ecology, said it is a multi-measure test for which a portfolio, hopefully displaying efficiency in the planning, instruction, assessment and reflection stages of student teaching, is built and submitted by candidates. It was created by the powerful publishing and education company Pearson, he said, and is a complicated exam.
“We’re all scrambling in colleges across the state,” Lee said, “doing whatever we need to do to get students ready.”
One of the main problems with the exam, Banks said, is that, much like the Common Core, it was implemented very quickly. Because of this, he said, the education faculty did not have a lot of time to build it into the curriculum.