Time to Get Teacher Certification Right

Updated: October 2, 2015
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The Teachers Performance Assessment (edTPA), is a high-stakes assessment for student teachers that includes filmed classroom observations. It has been opposed by PSC, UUP and NYSUT. (NYSUT edTPA resolution.) The State Education Department rushed to implement the controversial teacher certification exam, which was set to be a requirement for teacher certification after May 1, 2015. But education faculty, teachers and their unions pushed back and the implementation of the assessment has been pushed back until June 2015.

July 15. AFT Honors PSC and UUP for Fighting to Get Teacher Certification Right

For their successful campaign to delay the implementation of the Teachers Performance Assessment (edTPA), a controversial high-stakes assessment for student teachers, the PSC and its sister union at SUNY, United University Professions, both received the AFT’s Lawrence Gold Professional Issues Award at the AFT’s 2014 Convention in Los Angeles.

The unions opposed edTPA because it reduces teacher education to preparing for a high-stakes test and outsources the scoring of tests to for-profit corporations. They also strongly objected to edTPA’s rushed implementation because it left education faculty without time to prepare student teachers for the assessment and put student teachers at risk for undeserved failure. PSC and UUP worked with NYSUT to press State Education Department to delay full implementation of the assessment until June 30, 2015, creating a safety net for aspiring teachers who will have to take the test without adequate preparation.

PSC and UUP also cosponsored a resolution at the AFT Convention, “edTPA and Respect for the Professionalism of Teacher Educators,” which reaffirmed the importance of maintaining academic freedom of faculty and faculty governance over curriculum of teacher education programs. Later that day, AFT delegates approved a resolution that said high-stakes testing of students and teachers is creating a “disastrous shame-and-blame/test-and-punish accountability system that corrupts the teaching and learning process”

April 30. Lawmakers Take a Critical Look at edTPA

A day after the Regents voted to delay full implementation of the edTPA until June 2015, the State Assembly Committees on Education and Higher Education held a joint hearing on edTPA. The hearing held Wednesday, April 30 in Albany examined edTPA-related changes in “the teacher certification process, the preparedness of teacher preparation programs and the impact on future teachers.” PSC and UUP leaders testified at the hearing alongside CUNY and SUNY education faculty. Their testimony helps establish a public record of problems associated with edTPA that can become a baseline for real reform.

Video of the Assembly hearing is archived here on the Assembly website.

April 29. EdTPA Implementation to Be Delayed

The PSC’s statewide affiliate, NYSUT, has reached an agreement with the State Education Department (SED) to delay full implementation of the controversial new Teachers Performance Assessment (edTPA) until June 30, 2015. EdTPA is a multi-part assessment of student teachers that was set to be a requirement for teacher certification after May 1, 2015. The PSC, UUP, our sister union at SUNY, and NYSUT oppose edTPA because it reduces teacher education to preparing for a high-stakes test and outsources the scoring of tests to for-profit corporations. The unions also strongly objected to edTPA’s rushed implementation because it left education faculty without time to prepare student teachers for the assessment and put student teachers at risk for undeserved failure. The delay provides an important safety net for aspiring teachers, according to NYSUT. Under the terms of the agreement, student teachers will have to take the edTPA starting this spring, but those who fail it will be allowed to use a passing score on the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written (ATS-W) to demonstrate readiness to enter the classroom as a teacher. (Passing the ATS-W is a current certification requirement in New York.) Students who are eligible for Pell grants will not be charged to take the edTPA. The agreement also calls for a task force of teacher education experts, with representation from PSC and UUP, to review and change the edTPA assessment going forward. All told, the deal protects the student teachers who would be hurt first by the edTPA, and gives education faculty a formal structure in which they can voice their concerns about it.

April 22. Stand Up for Future Teachers and Students

If you believe teacher training should be in the hands of education faculty, not for-profit testing corporations like Pearson, and that teacher certification should be more than mere test prep, please send this letter to your representatives in Albany. Please send it today! The Senate and the Assembly need a push to move legislation (A9207/S7001) to delay the implementation of the high-stakes teachers’ certification exam, edTPA. The bills establish a moratorium on the use of edTPA until July 2015 so there will be time to take a new look at teacher certification in New York State.

April 21. PSC Resolution Helps to Spur Action in Albany

A NYSUT resolution sponsored by the PSC and our sister union at SUNY, United University Professions, has helped to create pressure on Albany to delay implementation of the Teachers Performance Assessment (edTPA), the controversial teacher certification exam adopted by the Regents and scheduled for immediate implementation. The edTPA resolution was passed at the NYSUT Delegate Assembly in New York City the weekend of April 6. Days later, legislation to set a moratorium on the start of edTPA began moving in the Assembly. Now Senator Ken LaValle, chair of the higher education committee is sponsoring an edTPA bill that's a companion to the Assembly bill.