Montclair State University education students are joining statewide calls to end the edTPA assessment. Students are required to pass edTPA in order to receive teaching certification in New Jersey.
Multiple education associations sent a letter to state legislators and the state board of education calling for the elimination of edTPA. They list a variety of issues caused by the assessment, including that it interferes with professional growth, negatively affects mental and emotional health, creates a significant financial burden and is redundant due to other evaluations currently in place. Delaware, Georgia and Washington have all recently eliminated the assessment.
Students start fulfilling edTPA requirements the semester before their student-teaching begins. They are expected to submit a portfolio including lesson plans, sample assessments, written reflections, student work samples and a video of themselves teaching.
Many Montclair State students agree with the mounting calls to end edTPA. One of these students is Kelly McLaughlin, a senior linguistics major, who is in the teacher education program to be certified in English as a second language.
“Just as I was finally able to put all of my studying and preparation into practice during my student-teaching internship, I had to complete edTPA,” McLaughlin said. “It was a dark cloud over my student-teaching experience and final year of college.”
McLaughlin said the workload of the assessment was unnecessarily heavy.
“In addition to student-teaching full-time, completing assignments for my student-teaching seminar class, searching for teaching jobs and my other responsibilities, the workload from edTPA was just about unmanageable,” McLaughlin said. “Still, I would accept a heavy workload if I knew it was useful and educational, but edTPA is the opposite of that.”
McLaughlin explained the difficulty of recording herself while student-teaching.
“The logistics of filming were another nightmare,” McLaughlin said. “I’m tech-savvy, but it was still really difficult to set up video equipment in my classroom. Getting the audio equipment to pick up on dialogue was another challenge because everyone was wearing masks, and the air purifier created a lot of background noise.”
McLaughlin said the video does not capture an authentic classroom environment.
“My students were very embarrassed to be filmed in class,” McLaughlin said. “I explained many times that me and a stranger would be the only people to watch the videos and that the videos would only be used to grade me as a teacher, not them as students. However, these explanations only carried so much weight to my 16- and 17-year-old students. As far as they were concerned, they had to endure multiple class periods in front of a video camera as it filmed everything they did. Obviously, that greatly limited their participation, yet a major portion of the grade for edTPA is how a student teacher facilitates and builds upon student input — talk about contradictory.”
Jason Rosenblum, a first-year music education graduate student, said there are better ways to ensure that a student is qualified to teach.
“I think that edTPA should be removed as a requirement for teacher certification in New Jersey because there are plenty of other safeguards put in place to make sure teacher preparatory programs are producing quality educators,” Rosenblum said. “The assessment costs $300 which places an unnecessary economic burden on college graduates and their families [who are] already struggling to pay for college.”
Rosenblum added that the assessment takes a long time to complete.
“This assessment is so grueling in its nature that a lot of time that could be spent towards professional development, is spent preparing for edTPA,” Rosenblum said. “Many courses at [Montclair State] focus primarily on preparing students for the edTPA assessment.”
Megan Kick, a junior English major in the dual certification program for K-6, shared similar sentiments.
“It is an extremely time-consuming, costly and a stressful process that does not even measure a student teacher’s true potential in the classroom,” Kick said. “Future teachers already have a considerable amount of work they have to take on in order to become the best teachers possible. edTPA is by no means necessary to create a good teacher.”