June 2015 Issue
May 26, 2015

edTPA safety nets extended, but deep flaws remain

Author: By Darry McGrath
Source: NYSUT United

Teacher preparation students will have another year to use alternative paths to certification under an emergency regulation passed by the Regents in May. However, the so-called "safety nets" still don't address long-term problems with the state's deeply flawed new teacher certification exams.

The safety nets will allow teacher preparation students to use the alternatives if they fail any of the mandatory new exams. The safety nets will cover students taking the exams up to June 30, 2016.

That students must fail the new certification exams before they can use the alternatives means they could end up paying more than $1,000 to be certified, once they pay basic registration fees for the new exams and possibly several hundred dollars more for alternatives.

"We are heartened that the Regents have provided alternative paths to certification. This is a temporary fix, and could be a very costly one for students, at that," NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said. "We continue to push the fact that our practitioners in the field know there are serious problems with these exams, in terms of their content and design."

Three of the exams covered by the safety nets were required as of May 1, 2014. The fourth exam, the Content Specialty Test (CST), was already in use and has 41 versions that test knowledge in different subjects. However, the CST is being redesigned, and 17 of the redesigned exams are available. Details on the safety nets and alternative certifications can be viewed in the State Education Department's memorandum at www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2015Meetings/May/515p12hea1.pdf.

The alternatives for each exam are:

  • For the Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST), students can submit a form from their teacher preparation program attesting they have satisfactorily completed the courses that cover material on this exam, which assesses a future teacher's reading and writing skills.
  • For the Educating All Students (EAS) exam, SED will establish a temporary minimum passing score that will remain in effect up to the June 30, 2016, deadline. The new score will be applied for any students who fail the exam up to the new deadline, and for students who have already failed EAS but would have passed it under the temporary score. EAS assesses a future teacher's ability to work with students from different cultural, developmental and linguistic backgrounds.
  • For the CST, which tests a future teacher's knowledge in various subject areas, students will be allowed to take a previous version of the test. This offer will apply retroactively to any students who have already failed a redesigned test, as well as any students who fail the exam up to June 30, 2016.
  • For the educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), an existing safety net will be extended for one more year. Students who have already failed edTPA, or fail it by June 30, 2016, have until June 30, 2017, to complete all other certification requirements.