edTPA and TFA are two sides of the same coin.


Teach For America thinks you can put anybody in front of a classroom after a few weeks of boot camp training and they can fill the increasingly growing number of classroom teaching positions that cannot be filled by those from traditional teacher preparation programs.

TFA leaders think education majors are a waste of time.

TFA supplies teachers mainly for schools with poor students and students of color.

In a few cases this works.

Some people are born to teach.

But it is not sustainable and teachers leave TFA in a few years, creating a revolving door of inexperienced teachers.

edTPA also thinks traditional teacher preparation programs are lacking. They will argue that TFA and traditional teacher preparation programs undermine the professional status and quality of our classroom teachers.

They believe – and I have gotten an earful (or rather, Tweetful) this week – that licensure of teachers should look more like the fields of medicine and law.

This has not come from student teachers who have been victims of edTPA. It has come from university people who work for and with edTPA.

They got mad when I mentioned Bill Gates.

Gates is all over Stanford’s SCALE, but not edTPA, they tell me.

Fine. Whatever.

I’m told that in New York and Illinois the problem isn’t with edTPA and their 45 teacher functions that appear on their Stanford created rubric.

I’m told the problem is implementation.

It seems the problem is always implementation.

These university researchers have great ideas that just can’t seem to get implemented right.

Even our unions, when they defend Common Core, say the problem with Common Core is implementation.

PARCC testing?


Clearly we have a continuing problem with implementation.

I get it that Stanford’s SCALE and edTPA folks think that if we don’t build a wall of rubrics, the folks at the National Council on Teacher Quality and TFA will end up sending an army of untrained people into classrooms.

Yet edTPA is having a similar impact. The more hoops we create for student teachers to jump through, fewer of them will be willing to make the leap.

And then we will have the situation we are already starting to see in states with teacher shortages. Provisionally certified teachers in classrooms.

That means they don’t know anything about teaching.

45 checks on lists of teacher functions on a edTPA rubric doesn’t make anyone teacher-ready on their first day on the job. Yet that is their claim.

In my experience, it takes five years before you know what the questions are.

Experience teaching and reflecting on that experience is what makes good teachers.

A rubric of 45 teacher functions? On most days I did 45 teacher functions before noon.

Yes, there is a problem with Pearson’s connections to all this.

Yes, I am sure there are implementation problems.

But it is the conception of teaching as a mostly technical enterprise that can be mastered in time for day-one that is at the root of what is wrong with edTPA.

Rerun: Andrea Zopp’s busy daily schedule. CPS board member’s schedule: Close 50 public schools. Go to the gym. Dinner at Vinci. Play at Steppenwolf. Tend the vegetable garden.

With the news that Urban League President and former CPS board member is running for U.S. Senate, I thought it would be a good time to reprint this post from May of 2013.

Zopp recently defended the CPS $20 million dollar no-bid Supes contract.


CPS board member Andrea Zopp.

Shia Kapos in Crain’s:

Andrea Zopp, CEO of Chicago Urban League, is moving into the long weekend the way we all should—with a long work-out and massage.


8 a.m. Start with Zumba class in Beverly and then a workout with trainer Kathy Dalby at HiFi Fitness on Orleans Street.

11 a.m. Get a massage at XSPort Fitness on State Street with Gary Smith.

1 p.m. Hair appointment at Ulta on State Street. “I’ve been going to Heidi White for a long time.”

6 p.m. Dinner at Vinci Restaurant on Halsted Street.

7:30 p.m. Attend Steppenwolf’s “Head of Passes” performance.


8 a.m. Take a 3-mile run with husband Bill Zopp.

9 a.m. Get daughter Alyssa ready for her big day as an extra in a summer movie that’s filming in town.

11 a.m. Brunch with friends who are participating in Bike The Drive on Lake Shore Drive. “I’m not doing it because my bike is a mess.”

3 p.m. High school graduation party at a friend’s house.


7:30 a.m. Running the annual Ridge Run 5K in Beverly. “It’s a fun day. After the run, we have a neighborhood party in Beverly. We’ll walk the (Memorial Day) parade.”

Afternoon Planting vegetable garden—tomatoes, cucumbers, beans peppers. “We have a lot of yard, flower beds everywhere that need tending,” she says. “I haven’t had a chance to get out there so I’m hoping the weather will be good.”

Life in Rahm’s Chicago. Welcome back, Amer.


My drawing from July, 2014.

The poster boy for Rahm’s City Hall corruption, Amer Ahmad, is coming home.

Not home to Chicago, where he was hired by Mayor Rahm’s Chief Financial Officer, Lois Scott.

Home to Ohio where he is accused of steering $3.2 million in securities and brokerage work to a high school classmate who then kicked back $500,000 to Ahmad.

His flight back to Ohio was free.

Ahmad was extradited from Pakistan and flown to Columbus, Ohio, where he will appear for a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Watson at 10 a.m. Friday.

Ahmad was a fugitive in Pakistan ever since he fled the States following his conviction for bribery and conspiracy and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

His crimes had all taken place prior to Lois Scott bringing him to Chicago.

Scott was known as Rahm’s financial guru.

She’s gone now.

edTPA. The Gates and NCTQ plan, a long time in the works.


Graphic: Rethinking Schools

edTPA is not new.

I have been posting about it now because the implementation of edTPA in Illinois, mandated by the Democratic Party controlled state legislature as the path to teacher certification, is moving at full steam.

If you go back to the summer of 2013 Rethinking Schools has an article by Wayne Au which places edTPA right in the center of the debate over corporate school reform, the Gates Foundation and the corporate National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

Incidentally, I wrote about the cozy relationship between the Illinois Education Association’s Executive Director Audrey Soglin and NCTQ back in April of 2013.

But this is part of what Wayne Au wrote for Rethinking Schools two years ago:

Conservatives have been developing an infrastructure to attack teacher education at least since 2000, when the Thomas B. Fordham Institute created the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). As former Fordham Institute board member Diane Ravitch recalls: “Conservatives, and I was one, did not like teacher training institutions. . . . [The Fordham Institute] established NCTQ as a new entity to promote alternative certification and to break the power of the hated ed schools.”

With $5 million from then-Secretary of Education Rod Paige and the Bush administration, the NCTQ founded the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), which would grant anyone a “passport to teaching” as a valid teaching credential in any state that agreed, as long as the individual had a bachelor’s degree and passed a background check and a computer test. Voucher proponents and advocates for privatizing public education filled the ABCTE’s advisory board, and Kate Walsh, now president of NCTQ, served on its board of directors.

Although the ABCTE still exists as an online teacher certification program (get your teaching credential for just under $2,000!), it lives on the fringes of the national education policy conversation. On the other hand, corporate education reformers have placed NCTQ in a position of national prominence. Diane Ravitch explains: “Today, NCTQ is the partner of U.S. News & World Report and will rank the nation’s schools of education. It received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to review teacher quality in Los Angeles. It is now often cited as the nation’s leading authority on teacher quality issues. Its report has a star-studded technical advisory committee of corporate reform leaders like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee.”

NCTQ supports the use of high-stakes test scores in teacher evaluation (known as value-added measurement, or VAM), including using test scores of students to rate the teacher education programs from which their teachers graduated. Taking a page directly out of the rabidly pro-corporate American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) playbook on education reform, NCTQ has already issued report cards for teacher education by state and is on the verge of “grading” most individual teacher education programs in the country.

Kate Walsh and the NCTQ are part of the cabal of corporate reformers dismantling public education today, and they have teacher education squarely in their sights.

So the edTPA has to be seen strategically as a push back against the forces of corporate education reform. It aims to reframe teaching as a profession along the lines of being a medical doctor or a lawyer (think national bar exam for teachers).

This would explain why edTPA has roots in the ideas of Linda Darling-Hammond and other proponents of focusing on teacher quality.

Like other education reform ideas that seemed good at the time, they often get turned into their opposites with the infusion of foundation and corporate dollars.

I got into a Twitter debate about edTPA with John Seelke, an employee of the University of Maryland and someone who does student teacher placement and supervision

He has been one of the rare defenders of edTPA to comment since I started writing about it.

Seelke’s objectivity is suspect as someone who is employed to implement edTPA.

But he raises a good question:

“Connection to Gates? Is edTPA perfect? No…do it think it’s better than other current assessments like praxis?”

By praxis, John means the current system of local cooperating teacher evaluation along with a university or college supervisor.

Au raises a similar question:

If we sink the edTPA, what will we be left with? In the midst of corporate education reform, will we in teacher education get stuck with whatever Kate Walsh, the NCTQ, and the privatizers have in store for us? That is a dilemma, and I don’t have the solution. I do know, however, that the edTPA has had a significant impact on my teacher education program.

As I have written before, whatever problems there are with current teacher preparation practices, nothing can be fixed by handing it over to private corporations like Pearson which rake in million of dollars in profits or by implementing the plans of the Gates Foundation.

Chicago Tribune: Teacher compensation is a perk.


It has been just a few days since the Chicago Tribune embarrassed itself by publishing the ghoulish op-ed by Kristen McQueary which called for a devastating natural disaster like Katrina to hit Chicago.

Only “water gushing through manhole covers” could bring school reform to our city wrote McQueary, praising the privatization of New Orleans schools that followed Hurricane Katrina.

This morning they publish another one of their patented bull poop articles on teacher pensions, claiming a district’s pension pick-up is a “perk.”

They write that this perk is “little noticed.”

That’s because to most observers of collective bargaining agreements between labor and management it is not normally considered a perk to receive compensation for your work.

A point about the contract language: If someone were to read the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Park Ridge board of education and the Park Ridge Education Association (of which I was a member for 30 years) it says, “the Board shall pick-up the teacher’s required contribution to the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS).”

What does this mean?

It means that the board will take the 9.4% our of our check  and send it to TRS. We paid the entire amount but the board transferred the money. That is all that they did. It was nothing more than an electronic transfer of our money so that we didn’t have to mail in a check to TRS ourselves.

Yet someone might read that and think the board paid our contribution. They would think wrong.

Are there districts in Illinois that pay all or a share of the teacher contribution?


In the course of negotiations both sides of the table understand that there is a finite amount of money to be bargained. How that money is divided up is what the bargaining is about.

Some goes directly to salary. Some goes to benefits such as health insurance. Some goes to pension payments.

If you look at collective bargaining agreements between teachers and school boards state-wide you will see that some are heavily weighted towards salaries. Others are weighted more strongly to the benefit side.

It’s all bargained compensation.

Compensation is not a perk.

No matter what the Trib thinks.

In defense of edTPA from a reader.



While I know that leaving this comment will get me crucified, I wanted to respond to the question about “who are the edTPA evaluators?”.

To qualify to be an edTPA scorer, one must either be a teacher in that content who has worked with student teachers, a university faculty or staff member who works in teacher preparation in that content area, or a nationally certified board member in that content area. You must then undergo and pass a rigorous 20+ hour training process.

The training process and protocol are designed and controlled by Stanford University, specifically the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE).

In fact, the edTPA in its entirety is authored and controlled by SCALE. Pearson is the operational partner.

To address another issue, Pearson does not own the videos; they belong to the teacher candidates who submit them and there is a very strict protocol surrounding their use.

I am all for discussion about this issue but let’s make sure we know all the facts and are discussing them accurately. I would encourage those reading to explore more about the content of the assessment itself and separate that from the discussion of high stakes assessments in teacher preparation.

They are two different issues and should be treated as such.

– Elisa


Nobody gets crucified on this site for expressing an opinion or sharing what they perceive as facts.

Most of those who have testified on this blog about edTPA have fallen into two categories:

Student teachers who have been evaluated by edTPA.

Faculty of education programs who have had student teachers evaluated by edTPA.

Of the over 30,000 visitors to the original article, not one said it was a valuable experience. Or even a good one.

Those are facts too.

Thanks for sharing yours.

– Fred

We warned you. Doing the nasty by a Furlong.


Former BMO boss Mark Furlong doin’ the nasty on the CPS board.

Back on June 2nd we warned you.

Rahm had removed the tainted Deb Quazzo from the CPS board and replaced her with another insider with board contracts, Mark Furlong.

Rahm’s new CPS board member is Mark Furlong. He just retired from his $2 million a year job as boss at BMO Harris Bank.

He replaces Deborah Quazzo.

Quazzo was under a cloud of conflicting interests with her multiple profitable contracts with the CPS board.

Wouldn’t you know it.

The same goes for Mark Furlong.

Mayor Rahm is a serial insider appointer. He can’t quit it.

Today’s Chicago Trib, while unable to find space to report on #FightForDyett, reports that Mark Furlong is doing the nasty. Just like Quazzo.

The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday plans to extend a contract with a firm connected to a businessman whom Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently appointed to the school board.

Leap Innovations, a nonprofit education technology firm, first won a yearlong, $250,000 deal in 2014 to research and develop new classroom tools at 13 schools, according to board records. Now the board will consider extending the contract for another year and another $250,000, this time to conduct research in six schools.

Mark Furlong was Leap Innovations’ board chairman until May 29, a few days before Emanuel named him to the school board as part of a housecleaning move amid a federal contracting investigation. Furlong is a retired CEO of BMO Harris Bank.

Also backing Leap is the Chicago Public Education Fund, an elite nonprofit philanthropy group, which said last year it would spend $750,000 with the company to expand resources available to district teachers.

Leap CEO Phyllis Lockett, was named last week to serve on a CPS group that will solicit ideas to improve district high schools, principal candidates and district administrative programs. Lockett’s group includes school board Vice President Jesse Ruiz and roughly two dozen other officials from the district, charter schools and other community groups.

The Dyett story is starting to break through. The ninth day.


Nine days into the hunger strike, the Dyett story is starting to break through.

Social media has been all over it:

A fully developed community driven plan for a Chicago high in a historic African American neighborhood that currently has no open admission neighborhood public high school and CPS refuses to act on it.

But neither national nor local corporate media has thought to send a reporter.

Until yesterday.

Finally the Chicago Sun-Times found some space.

Members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School have lobbied for years on behalf of the neighborhood school, without success. After Dyett’s final class of 13 seniors graduated in June, Chicago Public Schools asked for other proposals without considering the coalition plan, which ultimately led to this month’s hunger strike.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten tweeted that she would join the hunger strikers on Wednesday:

I’ll be in Chicago on Wednesday to stand w/ , help raise up their story.

Local 1 of the AFT, the Chicago Teachers Union, has been on it from the get.

“Those with the moral courage and those who believe in strong neighborhood high schools should join these parents in this historic and courageous act,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “My thoughts and prayers are with these bold individuals who are engaging in an ultimate act of resistance. [Board President] Frank Clark and Mayor Emanuel must not ignore these voices. Save Dyett High School.”

Roosevelt University education faculty on edTPA: “We remain concerned about the social injustice of this assessment.”

May 1, 2014

The faculty of Roosevelt University’s College of Education, wish to express our reservations regarding edTPA, a performance-based assessment tool administered by the Pearson Corporation.

The edTPA will be a requirement for teacher certification in Illinois, effective September 1, 2015, and is poised to become a national assessment, potentially generating great wealth for the company. While we recognize the importance of preparing and evaluating highly competent teachers, we strongly caution that the adoption of the edTPA as planned will be detrimental for schools and students in Illinois and nationally.

We are fully committed to the preparation of effective teachers; we are not confident that the use of the edTPA as a consequential assessment is the best way to accomplish that goal.

Our objections to this highly consequential single measure include the following:

1. Narrow Focus Teaching is a highly complex practice, and what constitutes quality remains contested. We know that successful teaching is not the same as good teaching, and we know that terms like success, effective, and good are dependent on context and culture. In light of this complexity, edTPA markets itself as an authentic assessment of teacher readiness based on a 15-minute video segment and a set of responses to writing prompts on lesson context, planning, instruction, and assessment. The measurement criteria for assessors are surprisingly underdeveloped and point to an exclusively technical, rather than holistic or humanistic, understanding of education. Student teaching assessments should take into account all aspects of a teacher’s practice, rather than forcing candidates to adhere to narrow, rigid rubrics that measure the one learning segment of 3-5 lessons or 3-5 sequential hours of instruction that is the focus of the assessment. In addition to this there is limited research showing the effectiveness of edTPA being an accurate indicator of teacher quality.

2. Exclusion of Key Stakeholders Student teaching assessments should be conducted by educators who are a part of the candidate’s learning community. In contrast, scorers of edTPA are trained by Pearson and are outside of the teacher candidate’s preparation program. External evaluators cannot know the students and the learning contexts in which they are operating, as do the local teachers and university evaluators. State leaders were largely responsible for creating and monitoring the use of edTPA in Illinois. The high stakes nature of edTPA was signed into law without the engagement and input of key stakeholders in education. We argue that local ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF EDUCATION 2 teacher educators, school leaders, classroom teachers, and parents and/or parent groups are key stakeholders and should also be involved in developing and monitoring the use of the assessment tool.

3. Quality of Assessors We have concerns about both the quality of the external assessors and the transparency of the assessments. We need to more clearly understand the qualifications and preparation of the assessors and the selection process.

4. Pass/Fail High Stakes Consequence The edTPA operates on a pass/fail basis that offers candidates only a cumulative score as feedback and no support for improvement. The only option for teacher candidates who fail the assessment is to pay an additional fee and retake the evaluation. Student teaching assessments should support growth and learning throughout the candidate’s process. This approach undermines the role of assessment as an integral part of the teaching and learning process. By reducing the feedback to a single score, the complexity of the teaching and learning process is reduced to a single, largely context-free score.

5. Vulnerable Population Insensitivity Teacher educators who work with marginalized populations, including English language learners, disabled students, children of undocumented workers and ethnic minorities, recognize the need for sensitivity in working with vulnerable youth populations. Asking the most vulnerable families to waive their privacy rights and permit videotaping so that a student teacher can participate in edTPA is insensitive. Parents may also be concerned about what is eventually done with videos that include their child’s likeness by an agency that has no public accountability. One probable byproduct of this breach of privacy is that both institutions of teacher education and the schools that work with historically marginalized populations would be discouraged from participating in reciprocally beneficial relationships. This would harm public education by significantly diminishing teacher education engagement with diverse student populations.

6. Discourage Engagement with High-Needs Schools In addition to this, the edTPA discourages candidates from performing the assessment in high-need schools, where challenging classrooms or students with special needs may reflect poorly on the teacher candidate. There is no mention of classroom management in edTPA rubrics. Student teaching assessments should encourage candidates to teach in all schools, and teacher candidates need to learn about, be assessed on, and be supported to improve on issues of classroom management.

7. Bias Against Diverse Teacher Candidates While we believe that there needs to be teacher performance assessment, having a corporation such as Pearson as the clearinghouse may result in a variety of 3 issues. The edTPA costs $300, which in itself is prohibitive for diverse populations of students. By their nature, standardized assessments place value on specific knowledge and skills, which are traditionally biased against racially diverse, poor, working, and immigrant teacher candidates. Presently we don’t have research on the demographics of edTPA test takers, and the field test results haven’t been widely disseminated. We believe that the edTPA will further marginalize diverse populations from becoming role models and teacher leaders in schools.

8. Lack of Meaningful feedback to Teacher Candidates and Programs The edTPA is an assessment that goes contrary to the very instruction and assessment cycles it requires of the teacher candidates. Within edTPA, teacher candidates must demonstrate their use of assessments to measure instructional objectives, provide feedback to learners and use the data to inform planning and delivery of ongoing lessons. The edTPA assessment itself does not give timely or usable feedback to the student or the teacher education program that prepared the teacher candidate. In conclusion, we realize the value of recruiting, preparing, supporting and evaluating high quality educators. Indeed, this is the core of our work at Roosevelt University.

We remain concerned about the social injustice of this assessment and strongly voice opposition against the standardization and corporatization of teacher education. It is unlikely that the edTPA assessment will be an improvement over the processes currently used by teacher education institutions across Illinois and nationally. We strongly recommend that the regulations for implementing edTPA be revised:

• First, the high-stakes nature of this evaluation should be eliminated. The edTPA can be used as a tool to inform and tailor individual teacher education instruction and assessment. This will better meet the needs of teachers who serve diverse populations across the nation.

• Second, the legislation needs to allow more time for colleges of education to understand and field test the edTPA in order to effectively and thoughtfully prepare teacher candidates and address the impact of this assessment on their programs.

• Third, the cost of edTPA for students should be drastically reduced.

• Fourth, edTPA should be scored by teacher educators and on-site, cooperating teachers, who are supporting the teacher candidates’ preparation. This will enable the candidate to receive meaningful and helpful feedback both in written and verbal formats.

• Fifth, classroom management should be included in edTPA rubrics in terms of making allowances for this and not having it negatively affect a teacher candidate’s score.

Sincerely, Roosevelt University College of Education Faculty