The long-term individual and societal benefits of early childhood education has never been clearer. Several decades of research have come to the same conclusion: high-quality, developmentally appropriate early childhood programs are of critical importance to children’s cognitive and social development.
As states scramble to develop, implement, and fund early childhood programs, the question then becomes: Do the newest early childhood teachers possess the skills and knowledge to produce the best learning environment for our nation’s earliest learners?
The edTPA (formerly referred to as the Teacher Performance Assessment), a partnership between Stanford University and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), explores this question by assessing would-be teachers through a documented assessment process.
In general, the edTPA is designed to be given at the end of a teacher preparation program and before teacher licensure or certification. It is designed to supplement other entry-level assessments that focus on the basic skills or subject matter knowledge that early childhood education teachers must possess.
The edTPA in Early Childhood Education is consistent with the 2010 National Association for the Education of Young Children Standards for Initial and Advanced Early Childhood Professional Preparation Programs and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards for Early Childhood.
What is the Teacher Performance Assessment and why is it Being Implemented?
The edTPA provides a solution for the challenges of inexperienced teachers in today’s public education settings. This framework prepares the new teacher workforce with the skills necessary to support student learning from the first day of their teaching career. The edTPA is designed to evaluate aspiring teachers through a uniform and impartial process.
The edTPA allows teacher preparation programs to align their curriculum to state and national standards, including the Common Core State Standards and the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium. Through implementation of the edTPA framework, new teachers are expected to be better able to teach each student effectively and improve student achievement. The edTPA was developed, piloted, and refined by more than 1,000 educators from 29 states, including Washington D.C., and by more than 450 post-secondary institutions.
The edTPA is administered to new educators through Evaluation Systems, which is an affiliate group of Pearson, the largest national exam and assessment servicer. Currently, 34 states and the District of Columbia use the edTPA at different levels.
What Does the edTPA Assess?
Specifically, the edTPA in Early Childhood Education is designed to evaluate how the new teacher plans and teaches lessons. This assessment, which is used in classroom settings, assesses the new teacher’s methods of teachings and the effectiveness of that teaching.
Currently, the edTPA provides subject-specific assessment in 27 different teaching fields, including early childhood education. Through implementation of the edTPA, teacher candidates can demonstrate their ability to effectively teach early childhood education to all students through documentation of the teaching process.
Teacher candidates who participate in the edTPA will have an opportunity to develop a collection of materials that best represents the ways in which they impact student learning during their early childhood education student teaching experience. As student teachers begin to develop a collection of teaching materials in early childhood education, they will have the opportunity to use it with the students they are currently teaching. As such, a candidate’s teacher performance assessment will allow them to demonstrate their current knowledge, skills, and abilities in early childhood education.
A Breakdown of the edTPA in Early Childhood Education
The Early Childhood edTPA allows beginner teachers to describe, analyze, and evaluate their teaching methods in series of 3 to 5 related and coherent learning opportunities, all of which take place over the course of one school week (called a learning segment).
When developing an Early Childhood edTPA, individuals should ensure that they are promoting children’s development of language and literacy skills and processes. The learning segment should promote a “developmentally appropriate and integrated approach to language and literacy development.” It should also focus on language development, providing a healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging learning environment, and on the interrelated skills and processes of:
- Visually representing
Although it is recognized that a fully interrelated and comprehensive curriculum may not be realistically accomplished through the completion of just one learning segment, it should be detailed as to include the planning, support, and assessment of the above skills and processes as to ensure the promotion of language and literacy development.
The three tasks for the Early Childhood edTPA include:
- Planning Instruction and Assessment
- Instructing and Engaging Children in Learning
- Assessing Children’s Learning
Participants of the edTPA are required to submit artifacts and commentaries, both of which are designed to explain how they planned and implemented their early childhood instruction as to promote language and literacy development. Artifacts may include any number of materials, such as:
- Lesson plans
- Copies of instructional materials
- Copies of assessment materials
- Video or audio clips of student teaching
- Student-voice evidence
- Observation notes
- Work samples
The commentaries provide beginning teachers with the opportunity to describe the rationale behind the use of any of the above artifacts and with the opportunity to reflect and analyze what they have learned about early childhood learning.
The edTPA and the evidence submitted are scored on the following, six dimensions of teaching:
- Analyzing Teaching
- Academic Language
- Student Voice