Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume: 70 issue: 2, page(s): 102-114
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The authors of this study note that over the last years there has been a paradigm shift in teacher training programs.
As part of this paradigm shift, teacher preparation programs have faced pressure to adopt performance-based assessments that provide databased evidence that their candidates are ready to teach upon completion of their respective programs.
Developed by AACTE and the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), edTPA is an example of one such assessment that has been gaining national attention.
Currently implemented in 40 states and the District of Columbia, edTPA is a standardized assessment that measures teacher candidate ability to plan, instruct, and assess student learning in 27 different content areas The assessment requires teacher candidates, during the student teaching internship, to provide convincing evidence of their ability to teach using best practices that have a positive impact on their K-12 students.
Candidates who are unable to reach their program-specific benchmark or “cut” score on the assessment may be ineligible for certification.
The authors found that the extant research literature makes it clear that the cooperating teacher (CT) plays a pivotal role in providing interns with the support they need, and that CT professional development (PD) activities have the potential to positively impact teacher candidate performance.
To address the void in the related literature and to support teacher education programs and their interns in the successful implementation and completion of edTPA, the researchers conducted a research project in which they hypothesized that by providing specific PD for CTs on edTPA, their capacity to effectively mentor teacher candidates would increase, resulting in higher edTPA scores among teacher candidates whose CT completed the PD than those whose CT did not.
Following the identification, recruitment, and training of the CTs, the researchers sought to answer the following questions:
1: To what extent are the edTPA specific vocabulary and domains addressed in the CT PD modeled in CT classroom practice (i.e., how did the PD affect the CTs’ practice)?
2: To what extent does the CT PD affect the performance of teacher candidates during the internship experience?
The authors employed a mixed method design in the study. To investigate the possible impact of the PD on CT practice (Research Question 1), they collected and compared quantitative data from CTs who participated in the workshop and from those who did not by using classroom observations.
An online survey completed by the CTs’ interns after they had completed the student teaching experience also provided quantitative data specific to Research Question 1.
To further address this research question, qualitative data were also gathered from CTs who participated in the PD and those who did not during semistructured interviews. Quantitative data collected via student completion of edTPA were compared to investigate the extent CT PD affected teacher candidate performance (Research Question 2).
The authors found that while no significant results were noted in this study, trends in the data did emerge.
CTs who participated in the PD were rated higher overall than their colleagues who did not participate on all quantitative measures.
Qualitative results were more definitive.Comments from participants showed that CTs who completed the PD were able to offer more detailed, specific feedback to their candidates about edTPA and also better understood the connections between the requirements of edTPA and established best practice.
The authors note that National Board certified teachers were able to offer the highest quality feedback, suggesting that teacher preparation programs may wish to deliberately request National Board certified teachers as mentors whenever possible.
In any case, designing edTPA related PD for CTs as part of a mentor program would seem to be a prudent and logical course of action for institutions implementing edTPA.