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Near perfection: NIU teacher candidates rock new performance assessment

January 29, 2016
Judy Boisen

Judy Boisen

After the new state-mandated edTPA became consequential for all teacher candidates in Illinois last fall, the state passing rate was 96 percent.

Candidates from NIU posted a 99.13 passing rate, with the vast majority of licensure programs posting a 100 passing rate.

NIU started preparing for the edTPA assessment in 2011-2012 when the state first introduced the future mandate. Two licensure programs piloted the edTPA at NIU In the spring of 2012 while all other initial licensure programs submitted plans for integration and implementation.

The Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation (UOELP) funded faculty from multiple programs to attend the edTPA Implementation Conference in 2013 and, in 2014, hired Judy Boisen as a part-time coordinator to develop workshops, presentations and webinars.

“The success of our candidates at NIU can be credited to the hard work of NIU faculty and staff who ensure that candidates receive the preparation they need to become exemplary teachers,” said Boisen, who became associate director of edTPA last summer, “and the incredible support and mentoring candidates receive from their cooperating teachers and university supervisors.”

The edTPA is a performance-based assessment of teaching and learning created by SCALE (Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity).

Photo of an appleWithin each credential area, the standardized assessments measure five discrete but interrelated dimensions of teaching:

  • Planning for Instruction and Assessment. Candidates provide evidence of their ability to select, adapt or design learning tasks and assessments that offer all students equitable access to curriculum content. Artifacts include lesson plans and assessments.
  • Instruction and Engaging Students in Learning. Candidates provide evidence of their ability to engage students in meaningful learning tasks and demonstrate how they facilitate students’ developing understanding of the content. Artifacts include video of teaching and written commentary.
  • Assessment of Student Learning. Candidates demonstrate how they analyze their students’ learning and use assessment information to plan future instruction. Artifacts include classroom assessments of the whole class and cases of individual student learning over time.
  • Analyzing Teaching. Candidates reflect on and analyze evidence of the effects of instruction on student learning.
  • Academic Language. Candidates demonstrate their ability to expand students’ language repertoire for the content domain.

Submission and official scoring of the edTPA costs $300 per candidate; UOELP provided funding last spring for all teacher candidates at NIU to submit edTPAs for official scoring as a pilot. Licensure programs then used data from this pilot to determine strengths and weaknesses and implemented changes to best prepare their candidates for the new mandate.

Boisen, who works with all licensure programs on campus, also has communicated with many schools in which NIU candidates are placed to support the implementation of the edTPA, an eligibility requirement for teaching licenses.