The New York State Board of Regents has voted to lower the passing score on the edTPA exam from 41 to 38 beginning in January 2018 and then gradually raise the rate back up to 40 by 2022.
The edTPA is an aspect of the teacher certification process that is used by a number of states throughout the country. It“requires a lengthy electronic portfolio that includes written work and videos of candidates interacting with K-12 students.”
The reconfiguration of the edTPA exam is part of a long-running dialogue in the state surrounding teacher certification and follows on from a January Task Force which recommended lowering the score of the edTPA and eliminating one aspect of certification—the Academic Literacy Skills Test—which the state then abandoned in the spring after complains that the exam had a racial bias.
Monica Disare explains in Chalkbeat explains that the “measures are a course correction following a state campaign, starting in 2009, to make it more difficult to become a teacher. The goal was to raise standards for those entering the profession” and explains how the process “weeded out qualified candidates, particularly prospective black teachers.
In a Chalkbeat analysis of teacher diversity, New York state officials said black test takers are nearly twice as likely to fail the edTPA as white or Hispanic candidates.” She notes how this undermines New York’s stated goal of making the teaching workforce more diversified.
Disare also considers how New York scores compare to other states using the test, and examines issues of racial bias in teacher testing and the coming teacher shortage.
She notes that New York State has a high passing score for the edTPA compared to other states and that only about 80 percent of the test-takers passed the exam. The teachers who failed the edTPA were then however able to then pass an easier written exam that she describes as the “safety net” option for teachers.
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