Letters: Testing the teacher

If the changes that won unanimous Board of If the changes that won unanimous Board of Regents approval Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, win final approval from the Regents in January as scheduled, they would first take effect with teenagers who entered ninth grade in 2011 and are due to graduate in June 2015. Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

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I disagree with the conclusions of "Flawed way to assess new teachers" [Opinion, March 25] by Alfred Posamentier, dean of the School of Education at Mercy College.

The new teacher performance assessment, the edTPA, was developed by the profession for the profession in recognition of the need for a uniform and impartial process to evaluate whether aspiring teachers are ready to lead classrooms.

The assessment is intended to be completed at the end of a program for teacher certification. It is comparable to the licensing exams in other professions -- medicine, architecture or law. It does not prescribe teaching methods, but rather allows for a variety of instructional practices.

New York State is among the first to require edTPA for teacher certification. Other states are exploring its use.

Many people are understandably concerned that New York's timeline has been too accelerated to fully adjust coursework and to prepare candidates. At the same time, many teacher educators and candidates in New York already are attesting to the transformative power of the assessment.

Beverly Falk, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the program director of graduate programs in early childhood education at the City College of New York.

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One of the most important challenges facing public education is to ensure that the nation's increasingly young and inexperienced teacher workforce is prepared to meet the academic needs of all students. That is why educators from across the nation, led by Stanford University, set out to develop an assessment that would support and evaluate beginning teachers on their skills.

The edTPA was designed to determine whether a new teacher is ready to teach each child from Day 1. Since last fall, more than 12,000 students have participated in field testing.

More than 500 institutions of higher learning in 34 states are collaborating with edTPA because our profession recognizes the need for standards and an assessment of teaching effectiveness. The field can no longer equate course completion with readiness to enter the profession.

Learning to teach in clinical practice is the cornerstone of teacher preparation. That's why edTPA uses real work such as lesson plans, student work and assignments, and measures what effective teachers do every day.

Contrary to Alfred Posamentier's assertions, teaching effectiveness can be reliably measured and scored. Teaching is complicated, and not everything can be measured. But if we can't say what a good teacher should be able to do, we are not acting like a profession, and we are shortchanging our students.

Raymond L. Pecheone, Stanford, Calif.

Editor's note: The writer is executive director of the Stanford University Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity, which developed the edTPA with the help of state officials and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

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