Georgia eliminates one-size-fits-all assessment of teacher candidates

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission removes edTPA assessment as requirement for certification

This news will be well received by a lot of educators: Today, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission removed the requirement that all teacher candidates complete the edTPA, or Educators' Teacher Performance Assessment, for full certification into teaching.

Since 2015, candidates for initial teacher certification in Georgia have had to earn an acceptable score on the edTPA. New teachers must complete three or four edTPA tasks. The tasks consist of portfolios of lesson planning, videos of teaching combined with reflections, and assessment strategies.

As Kennesaw State University associate professor Eric Wearne wrote here three weeks ago:

The edTPA tasks themselves aren't necessarily terrible; in fact, in many ways they can be useful for prospective teachers to complete. The real problem is that the state created a one-size-fits-all structure, jumped in with both feet at once, and mandated its use for all new Georgia teachers. Now the coronavirus has prompted the PSC to consider removing the edTPA as a program completion and certification requirement effective July 1, 2020.

They absolutely should do so.

This edTPA policy has caused colleges of education all over the state to alter their curricula, and not necessarily in good ways. Teacher prep programs had to build program machinery and class requirements simply for assessment compliance. The edTPA has brought colleges of education increased costs, state mandates to "ensure quality" (with no proof that succeeding on the edTPA would make teachers better), and forced standardization.

Educators and parents routinely decry standardization in many facets of K12 education today, so why did we mandate even more standardization in teacher preparation? Why would we think obtaining a more expensive, more standardized, more test-heavy degree will do anything but harm the teacher talent pipeline in Georgia?

Here is the official release announcing the decision of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission:

On Thursday,  the Georgia Professional Standards Commission voted to remove the edTPA assessment as a requirement for the certification of educators in Georgia, making it easier and less costly for teachers to get certified in the state.

"Educators across Georgia have adapted in these uncertain times to continue providing quality education to our students," said Gov, Brian Kemp. "As we continue to navigate the changing landscape of education in Georgia, we need good teachers who are passionate about educating the next generation now more than ever. Loosening these restrictions makes it easier and more accessible for all who want to pursue that mission, and I am grateful to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission for their work on this issue."

In addition to removing the edTPA as a requirement, the GaPSC also recently removed the second of two required ethics assessments. The removal of these two assessments cuts the assessment certification cost for Georgia teachers by nearly half, easing barriers for many in the midst of the fight with COVID-19.

"The Commission's streamlining efforts, while still ensuring effective educators, are critically important and collaborative work," said Brian Sirmans, GaPSC Chairman and Lanier County educator. "Our shared goal is to make a positive impact on all students, schools, communities, and the teaching profession."

"COVID-19 has caused all in education to find solutions to urgent issues, remain flexible, and explore innovations. Part of this responsive process is examining all policies, focusing on streamlining the journey to become a Georgia educator," said Matt Arthur, GaPSC's Executive Secretary. "Although we have gained much from edTPA, part of our simplification efforts resulted in a reduction in the number of certification assessments required, of which edTPA is one."

To read memos regarding the removal of edTPA as a requirement, click here and here. More information on the Commission's efforts to streamline in response to COVID-19 is available on their website.

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