Preparing Secondary Science Teacher Candidates for the edTPA: Supporting Students in Understanding and Using Feedback

New York State began requiring successful completion of the edTPA as a component for teacher certification as of May 1, 2014 (The State Education Department/The University of the State of New York, 2012). This performance-based assessment is already in place as part of program completion or state licensure in sixteen states. Three additional states are taking steps toward implementation, and twenty-one states have at least one provider of teacher preparation exploring edTPA (AACTE & SCALE, n.d.). This assessment requires teacher preparation programs, such as our Master of Arts in Teaching Program at the American Museum of Natural History [AMNH MAT], to revise existing curricula and potentially develop additional workshops, seminars, or other program components to support their teacher candidates.
To prepare teacher candidates for edTPA, we began by infusing edTPA “formative experiences” (SCALE, 2013, p. 1) into program coursework which we described to the ASTE membership in a 2015 conference workshop (Contino, Short, & Howes, 2015). In 2016, we offered a workshop to the ASTE membership that explored edTPA support our program provided to our teacher candidates: five full-day workshops based in focused instruction on various aspects of the edTPA commentaries (Contino, Howes, & Cooke-Nieves, 2016). During this workshop, we described how we developed scaffolds to support our teacher candidates, and provided time for participants to develop edTPA scaffolds. In 2017, our ASTE workshop (Contino, Howes, & Cooke-Nieves, 2017) specifically examined Task 3: Assessing Student Learning, which requires teacher candidates to analyze their students’ learning and academic language use (SCALE, 2015a).
This year, we will focus on edTPA Rubric 13 since local, state, and national data shows that it is the lowest scoring rubric for Task 3 and one of the lowest scoring areas in the entire assessment. The national mean score for the Secondary Science edTPA from January – June 2016 was 46.0 (n=1,414; range=15-75) and the NYS mean score was 46.2 (n=297) while our mean score was 51.7 (n=15; range=46-62; s.d.=4.6). For Task 3 only, the national mean was 15.2 (n=1,414; range=5-25) while the NYS mean was 15.3 (n=297) and our mean score was 16.9 (n=15; range=14-20; s.d.=1.5). During this time period, our teacher candidates’ mean total and Task 3 scores were higher than both the national and state means. Over the past four years, we have seen annual improvement in our mean scores for Rubric 13 after specifically targeting this rubric and providing instruction to our teacher candidates during our program workshops. In 2014, our mean Rubric 13 score was 2.7 (n=17; s.d.=0.9; range=1.5-4.0) and in 2017, it was 3.4 (n=13; s.d.=0.9; range=2.0-5.0).
Rubric 13 requires teacher candidates to describe how they will support students in understanding and using feedback for future learning (SCALE, 2016). It is not surprising that Rubric 13 results in these low scores, considering that research exploring students’ use of feedback, and therefore our knowledge of what to teach teacher candidates about students’ use of feedback, is sparse (e.g., Black & Wiliam, 2009; Shute, 2008; Zimbardi et al., 2017). In fact, at this point, as Shute (2008) states, “there is no best type of formative feedback for all learners and learning outcomes” (p. 35) – and we would argue that there are no clear models to share with teacher candidates. We do know that assessment that supports student learning requires that meaningful and descriptive feedback be provided to students. Even the best feedback, however, will not be useful unless it supports students in utilizing that feedback in productive ways (Bohnacker-Bruce, 2013; Boud & Molloy 2013; Zimbardi et al., 2017). Furthermore, as with any assessment strategy, feedback support should be based in specified learning outcomes and be appropriate for the individual learner (MacEachen & Carmichael, 2014; Shute, 2008). Chappuis & Stiggins (2002), Stiggins (2008) and Fluckiger et al. (2010) argue that when students are involved in assessing their own work, they not only learn better, but can learn to assess their own learning. Among the strategies for this model of “assessment for learning” that Chappuis & Stiggins (2002) suggest are to “Confer with students regarding their strengths and the areas that need improvement” and “Facilitate peer tutoring, matching students who demonstrate understanding with those who do not” (p. 2).
As Hattie and Timperley (2007) state, feedback “… needs to be more fully researched by qualitatively and quantitatively investigating how feedback works in the classroom and learning process” (p. 104). However, at this point, much of the research on student use of feedback has focused on higher education or online education settings. To support teacher candidates in learning how to provide good feedback for their science students’ work and support their students in using this feedback productively (Kahl, Hofman, & Bryant, 2012; SCALE, 2016), teacher educators need to draw upon existing research, along with their own knowledge of learning theory and instruction (Shephard, 2005) to develop ways to support their teacher candidates. The purpose of this workshop is to aid the ASTE membership, specifically teacher educators, in thinking about what edTPA Task 3 Rubric 13 requires and how they might support and guide their own teacher candidates in their respective institutions.
The following is an outline of the workshop that shows the sequence and duration of the activities:
1. General overview of AMNH MAT program and edTPA Tasks and Rubrics (10 min)
2. Examine examples of feedback in small groups and whole group discussion (15 min)
3. Examine secondary students’ assignment and work (10 min)
4. Provide feedback on student work in small groups and debrief (20 min)
5. Explore Rubric 13, Understanding Rubric Level Progressions (URLP), and commentary prompt (Task 3, Prompt 2c) using a graphic organizer in small groups (20 min)
6. Present findings to whole group (10 min)
7. Examine samples of edTPA submissions in small groups (20 min)
8. Whole group discussion on how to support candidates and application to home institutions (15 min)
The entire duration of this workshop is 120 minutes. Through this workshop, participants will be briefly introduced to the requirements for the Secondary Science edTPA and the importance of feedback. After examining examples of descriptive feedback, they will provide feedback on sample student work. Participants will then examine Rubric 13, its corresponding URLP (SCALE, 2015b), and commentary prompt and present the requirements which focus on how teacher candidates support their students in using the feedback provided. Next, participants will examine samples of edTPA submissions and lastly, they will discuss how to support teacher candidates with this task and how this experience might apply to their own situations at their home institutions as well as ask questions and share thoughts.
After attending this workshop, participants will be able to:
1. Identify the components of constructive descriptive student feedback
2. Describe the rubric requirements for edTPA Rubric 13: Student Understanding and Use of Feedback
3. Evaluate teacher candidates’ responses using edTPA Rubric 13
4. Explain how they might apply elements of this workshop at their home
During this workshop, we will begin with an introduction to edTPA and what secondary science teacher candidates must know and be able to do in order for successful completion of this assessment. We will then share the importance of descriptive feedback and divide the participants into small groups to examine examples of this feedback. During this time, the three presenters will check in with participants to answer questions and discuss what they are finding followed by a whole group discussion. Participants will then practice providing descriptive feedback on student work samples and debrief this experience. Next, we will have the small groups separately examine the requirements for edTPA Rubric 13 (using the Rubric, URLP, and the commentary prompt associated with this rubric) with a graphic organizer. Groups will then present their findings about this rubric. Following presentations, participants will be given sample edTPA submissions and evaluate them using Rubric 13. We will then discuss rubric scores and the reasoning behind them. Lastly, we will allow participants to share how they might support teacher candidates and how they might apply elements of this workshop to work they are doing at their own institutions as well as field questions and share experiences. We will judge the effectiveness of our workshop at meeting our learning objectives based on the participation level of the participants in the discussions of descriptive feedback, the rubric requirements, evaluation of the sample edTPA submissions, and application of the workshop to their home institutions.
The presenters will obtain and share the email addresses of the participants so that they might continue to support each other in implementing supports for the edTPA following the workshop. Additionally, the presenters will be available to the participants via email after the workshop.
Those within the ASTE membership who would be the most interested in our workshop are those involved in teacher preparation at both the graduate and undergraduate levels such as teacher educators, methods instructors, curriculum instructors, clinical supervisors, and advisors. These key leaders in teacher preparation programs will need to support teacher candidates in successfully completing the edTPA in their own programs by developing formative experiences and workshops. This workshop will give them an opportunity to explore how they might best develop activities to support teacher candidates.
This workshop will be conducted by three Senior Specialists in Science and Teacher Education and Faculty in the Master of Arts in Teaching Program in the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. During Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, two workshop leaders attended various workshops focused on the implementation of edTPA, offered through the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. They used the data from formative assessments in a Curriculum and Instruction course and science methods course in the AMNH MAT teacher residency program in order to develop five edTPA workshop days for teacher candidates as they prepared for edTPA submission as part of the certification process in New York State. These workshops included examination of the Rubrics, guided activities to help candidates tackle Commentary prompts, and peer review of lesson plans, videos, and commentaries and have now been offered to four cohorts of teacher candidates (n=59). Currently, the AMNH MAT program has a 96.6% pass rate on the edTPA with 79.7% of our teacher candidates achieving mastery (in New York State, the minimum cut score is 41 out of 75 and mastery is 48 and above (The State Education Department/The University of the State of New York, 2013)). Workshop evaluations, plans, formative assessments from courses, and edTPA scores are reviewed annually in order to revise and implement the workshops for the next cohort of 16 teacher candidates. Additionally, these presenters have offered workshops focused on edTPA to the ASTE membership for the past three years.
We plan to offer this workshop free of charge. The workshop could accommodate 20-30 participants. We plan to allow drop-ins until we reach capacity. Ideally, participants would come with a colleague from their home institution. For this workshop, we would require space for the participants to work in small groups (possibly tables that accommodate 6-8 people per table). We will need a projector. We plan to provide each participant at the workshop with hardcopies of the edTPA Rubric, URLP, sample student work, and sample edTPA submissions but they will not be permitted to keep these copies due to edTPA regulations.