edTPA burdens our aspiring teachers when they should be focused on teaching


– by David Enstad. David is  a former teacher and now teacher educator in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. His professional opinion is his and does not represent his institution nor the state of Minnesota. The Minnesota State Legislator mandated by statue and they will pilot the edTPA. 

Certainly edTPA is based on decades of research, but its imposition on the aspiring teacher, cooperating teacher, and especially the recipients of our teaching ‘the youth’ is extremely negative. We are burdening our aspiring teachers with mountains of writing when they should be focused on teaching.

I have seen our aspiring teachers so burdened with responding to the endless writing tasks of edTPA some start taking medications to reduce stress. And how does this stress affect our children? An interesting question to ask. I have yet to hear anything substantially positive from an aspiring teacher about the impact of the edTPA instrument on teaching.

Our children, aspiring teachers, cooperating teachers have become little more than fodder for cooperate America. One cooperating veteran teacher stated emphatically “90% of the joy of teaching is gone with the imposition of endless standards”.

EdTPA is just one more example of the corporate world seeking profit.

One of my favorite parts of edTPA is how a teacher deepens knowledge of students. Of course how do we measure the deepening of knowledge? A standardized instrument would measure this with analyzing the student’s memory of what Michal Apple would call “official knowledge”. Still little more than a memory recall type of question that is easily measurable and quantifiable if one forgets that each question on a standardized instrument must be equivalent in significance, cognitive level or creative innovative analysis of formal operational thinking, to rise to the lowest level of nominal data. Piaget recognized the perils and limitations of pretending quantitative data on ordinal measrues can magically be transformed into parametric data.

I would estimate that over 95% of published research is based on standardized instruments measuring the lowest levels, according to Bloom’s taxonomy, of subjects cognitive achievement.

As Piaget once stated, “To understand, is to Invent”. To truly enter into, and assess, a humans higher level cognitive functioning one has to enter into the subjects culture, personality type, motivational processes, decision/problem solving processes, and current functioning to address how a subject addresses cognitive disequilibrium’s within the subjects world.

Another interesting research question is what are the longitudinal implications of positing standardized instruments as the goal of education, therefore assessing humans at the lowest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Perhaps Zhao’s analysis of the world entering into a fog is here now.

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