Thursday, December 5, 2013

I'm wondering . . .

This Education Week article is interesting to me and makes me wonder who makes these decisions for us and the criteria they use when making them.  In this case it refers to a new teacher assessment, the edTPA, that will become part of the licensing requirements in January 2014.

I know nothing about the test, what interests me is that Washington and New York are the first two states to adopt the test and the difference in the cut scores.

Washington state, as I report in a story this week for Education Week, on Nov. 14 chose to set its bar at 35 out of 75 points, for a predicted passing rate of 85 percent of teacher-candidates. That figure is somewhat lower than the nationally recommended maximum of 42, a decision made in part because the exam is still pretty new, a state official told me. It's possible the state will look at increasing the score over time.

Conversely, a few days later, on Nov. 22, a New York state panel set its marker: a 49 out of 75 points for elementary teachers, a 35 for world and classical-language teachers, and a 41 for pretty much everyone else. Candidates also would have to earn a minimum score across the various rubrics that make up the total score.

Why the difference and why did our state pick a bar that is below the recommended cut score?  What does this decision communicate to parents and to prospective teachers?  Who and how was this decision made and what will trigger the possible increase suggested by the unnamed state official?  It makes me further wonder the intent of the assessment.  Is it measuring the candidates capacity for becoming a "proficient" teacher?  Is it intended to weed out teachers without the capacity to reach the "proficient" standard?  Is it a measure of the effectiveness of the college that prepared the candidate to meet the licensing requirements?  Just wondering.

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