ECU Professor Joins National Press Briefing on Teacher Performance Assessment

ECU College of Education professor Dr. Diana Lys, second from right, spoke at the National Press Club about ECU’s experience with a new teacher candidate assessment program. (Contributed photo)

The College of Education at East Carolina University was the only institute of higher education represented at the American Association of College Teacher Education press briefing that marked the national launch of teacher performance assessment, referred to as edTPA, after two years of field testing.

edTPA was designed to set a national standard of assessing the capabilities of aspiring teachers, similar to the bar exam for law students. Teacher education candidates seeking their initial teaching license submit an edTPA portfolio of materials and a video that shows them at work in the classroom during their student teaching internship. The candidates are evaluated based on their ability to develop lesson plans, respond to student needs, set standards, differentiate instruction and analyze whether their students are learning, according to the AACTE launch announcement. Trained education professionals score the portfolios.

Dr. Diana Lys, director of assessment and accreditation for the College of Education, was invited to speak at the National Press Club about ECU’s extensive experience with the new teacher candidate assessment that is now ready for all teacher preparation institutes across the country to implement.

edTPA allows individuals across disciplines to speak a common language and to share innovative practices, said Lys at the AACTE briefing. She said edTPA was a “lever for change” at ECU and that it has helped build a bridge to practice between the university and its partner schools.

ECU has been engaged in edTPA since the nationwide pilot began three years ago. The university recorded 96 percent participation among spring student teaching interns in 2013 and is currently the only university in the state to have all education programs on campus participating. edTPA is not mandated by the state of North Carolina, which makes ECU’s breadth and depth of engagement with the  assessment most noteworthy.

“AACTE is proud of the innovative work being done by teacher education faculty and leaders at East Carolina University,” said Saroja Barnes, senior director for professional issues with the AACTE. “We applaud them for the reforms they have engaged in, particularly in relation to their use of performance-based assessments of teacher candidates and clinical practice models. Their reform efforts demonstrate the power of transformative action at the local level to engage in change for improvement. Ultimately it is this type of change that will move the needle on high quality educator preparation and PK-12 student achievement.”

Jaclyn Midgette, a 2013 ECU graduate and now 4th grade reading and social studies teacher at Bullock Elementary School in Lee County, was featured in “Education Week” recently for her experience as a beginning teacher who completed edTPA as an undergraduate student. Even though she described it as “stressful, drawn-out and exhausting,” she said that the assessment process taught her how to reflect on each lesson, which she now does every day.

The briefing was held on November 8 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and Lys served as a panelist alongside a new teacher who completed edTPA as a student, AACTE leaders, state policy leaders from Illinois and Washington states and National Education Association partners.