TPA DOA at UMass

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Many unanswered questions remain about the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA), trumpeted by teacher educators as the panacea to all that ails teacher prep.  But the reasons given by UMass faculty and students for refusing to participate in the pilot of the TPA strike us as less than compelling.  Have they never heard of National Board Certification?

They object to the video recordings the TPA requires as part of the assessment, which are sent to a "corporation" for scoring. (Pearson is hiring university faculty, cooperating teachers, coaches, classroom teachers, National Board Certified Teachers, principals and retired educators who maintain their expertise to do the scoring.)

National Board certification requires the submission of video recordings, which are scored by National Board Certified teachers hired to do so.

They object to the 40 page take home test which examines teaching competence in 3 to 5 lessons from one class of students via lesson plans, student work samples, video clips, analysis of student learning and reflective commentaries.

National Board certification requires the submission of a portfolio that includes direct evidence of teaching (student samples, video recordings) and analysis and reflection of that evidence.

To be clear: there's a world of difference between the decades old National Board Certification and the new TPA. For example, we have serious concerns about the validity, reliability and appropriateness of the short, edited snippets of classroom instruction required under the TPA; National Board certification requires recording of entire class periods and prohibits editing. But that's all the more reason to conduct a pilot—so the field learns more about the strengths and weaknesses of this kind of assessment. 

— Rob Rickenbrode