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Teacher Evaluation

The Charge and the Challenges


Kate O'Hara

The evaluation of teachers is at the forefront of national discussion, with the divide on the topic growing increasingly deeper. Teachers are under attack, in a war waged from the top down, complete with private entities, standardization, and a limited view of what it means to be «good» or «effective». In both teacher preparation programs and in our public schools, teachers entering the profession and practicing in classrooms face evaluation measures that are biased, unreliable, and reliant upon quantitative outcomes. Teacher Evaluation: The Charge and the Challenges aims to «talk back» to the national rhetoric about teacher evaluation and accountability measures, with a call for all educators, policy makers, activists, scholars, and reformers to engage in critical dialogue and democratic practices.
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Chapter 5. On the Ramparts: Edtpa and the Fight to Reclaim Our Beloved Profession


This chapter represents a conversation among three people, Jennifer, Barbara, and Elizabeth, all of whom are deeply immersed in, and impacted by, the new teacher certification test known as the edTPA.

Jennifer completed her student teaching in secondary English in the fall 2013 semester as part of the Master of Arts teaching program in which she is enrolled at Colgate University. Barbara is a teacher educator and Jennifer’s advisor at Colgate. She also served as Jennifer’s student teaching supervisor during her field placement. Elizabeth is a teacher educator at Hartwick College who supervises students in the field. Although we all live and work in New York State, we know from our colleagues at conferences, on discussion boards and blogs, and from scholarly reportage, that our experiences are widely shared by those whose state departments of education have opted to use the edTPA for determining initial teacher certification.

Collectively, the three of us staged this conversation to reflect on our remarkably complementary negative individual experiences with the edTPA, including Jennifer’s accounting of her inability to use the most compelling examples of her own ingenious curriculum planning and enactment in her edTPA submission, Barbara’s recounting of how she felt about trading a measure of her integrity in to edTPA by eliminating the most sophisticated curriculum ← 81 | 82 → of her student teaching seminar, and Elizabeth’s reporting on the failing score of an otherwise successful student teacher in her program.

Our focus is on how the edTPA undermines...

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