Frequently Asked Questions


UUP supports the immediate removal of edTPA as a requirement for initial teacher certification!

May 2014 graduates of teacher education programs at colleges across the state have been set up for failure. Below, UUP responds to questions it has received and misleading information presented by the State Education Department (SED).

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What is edTPA and how does its use in New York differ from other states?

The edTPA is a new student teacher performance assessment developed by the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE). It is being used experimentally in more than 30 states. Currently, New York and Washington are the only two states that have made edTPA a certification requirement. New York’s required passing score is higher than Washington’s, placing New York out of line with all other states on the edTPA.

What are the components of edTPA?

The edTPA requires a lengthy electronic portfolio that includes written work and videos of candidates interacting with K-12 students. Obtaining parental consent is required for video recording, and can be a major hurdle for many student teachers. All edTPA materials must be submitted to Pearson, Inc. through web-based platforms. Pearson, Inc. scores the edTPA.

When did the Board of Regents decide to require the edTPA?

The decision to require the edTPA was announced in March 2012. The implementation of edTPA did not begin in 2009, as SED statements have implied.

From 2009 to 2012, SED was working with Pearson, Inc. to develop its own performance assessment. In March 2012, SED decided to go with the edTPA instead. Colleges would not have begun implementing the edTPA before the Board of Regents made a definitive decision to require it for certification.

In a March 23, 2012, memo, SED stated the following:

As you know, since late 2009, when the Board of Regents directed the Department to implement a performance assessment for initial teacher certification, we have been working with Pearson to develop an assessment. At the Board’s meeting earlier this week, it was announced that the Department will instead implement a multi-state Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) developed by Stanford University that has recently become available through Pearson.

Why are educators disputing SED’s claim that college programs had enough time to prepare May 2014 graduates for the edTPA?

SED’s truncated timeline, coupled with delays and substantive problems with materials needed to implement the new assessment, were significant roadblocks in preparing May 2014 graduates for the edTPA. Colleges could not have begun making the serious changes needed to integrate this new assessment into their programs until after the fall 2012 semester.


  • The first edTPA newsletter to provide guidance to programs in New York State, dated Nov. 12, 2012, begins with the following statement:
    Dear edTPA Coordinators,
    This is the first of a series of regular emails intended to provide you with support for rolling out the edTPA at your campus. Because institutions are at different points in learning about and trying out the assessment, each newsletter will have a theme that offers different resources for different stages of implementation. This first edition is focused on Getting Started. ... and scroll down to find the newsletters.
  • Draft materials to provide guidance on the edTPA did not become widely available until fall 2012—after semester courses and other program components were well underway for that semester.
  • (Scroll down to the archived presentations/webinars to “The EdTPA as an Educative Enterprise … September 12, 2012” by SCALE. On slide #8, there is a statement indicating that the 2012-2013 edTPA handbooks would be available in “mid-September.”
  • The SED/SCALE meeting for New York State, a critical component in the effort to begin serious launch of the edTPA, didn’t occur until Oct. 17, 2012.
  • Many campuses began their first edTPA pilots in spring 2013. Campuses encountered problems and asked SED for clarification. To this day, UUP continues to receive reports from faculty that SED has not fully addressed all problems.
  • There are different edTPAs for different certification areas. The Assessment Handbook for Elementary Education, which included a major change to the edTPA by adding a fourth assessment task in mathematics to the standard three tasks, wasn’t made available until January 2013.
  • Final edTPA handbooks were not available until fall 2013 in some subject areas and information is still incomplete for certain programs. One example is in Library Specialist programs; there is no edTPA assessment information for students. Faculty in this and other programs have been unable to get SED to adequately address their concerns. Pilot studies by colleges nationwide caution against introducing edTPA skills and language for the first time in a student teaching semester, yet this is exactly what occurred at many campuses across New York State during the 2013-14 academic year.

SCALE recommends that preparation for the assessment begin during the sophomore and junior years, which was not possible for the May 2014 graduating class.

Students who will have completed their student teaching during the fall 2013 or spring 2014 semesters have not had adequate training for the new array of tasks and technological requirements associated with the edTPA.

What are the costs to students associated with the edTPA and other certification requirements recently adopted by sed?

Students must pay $300 to take the edTPA. If they fail, they must pay $100 to retake one failed component or another $300 to take the entire edTPA again.

Costs to students for the full package of certification tests required in New York State have risen from less than $300 to between $600 and $700, at a minimum. Before the edTPA, students had to take three standardized tests to become a certified teacher in New York State: the Assessment of Teaching Skills—Written (ATS-W); Liberal Arts and Science Test (LAST); and the Content Specialty Tests (CST). Each exam carried a base price of about $79 each.

Along with the introduction of the edTPA, there were shifts in the other educator certification exams. Now, four exams are required (see chart on next page). These exams are expected to cost students approximately 100 percent more than what students have been paying.

How have teacher certification requirements changed for May 2014 graduates and how does the edTPA fit in with those changes?

SED has made changes to the group of tests required for initial teacher certification. These changes are in effect for students who apply for initial teacher certification on or after May 1, 2014. One change is the addition of a fourth certification requirement, the educative Teacher Performance Assessment, known as edTPA.

Candidates who completed ALL requirements for initial certification on or before April 30, 2014 Candidates who DID NOT complete ALL requirements for initial certification on or before April 30, 2014
Assessment of Teaching Skills (ATS-W) (Elementary or Secondary) edTPA educative Teacher Performance Assessment
Educating All Students (EAS)
Liberal Arts and Science Test (LAST) Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST)
Content Specialty Tests (CST) in content area Content Specialty Tests (CST) in content area
Revised—Operational September 2013

What is the basis for New York’s projected student failure rate of up to 40 percent?

This is based on the results of SCALE field tests, combined with the cut scores (passing scores) set by SED in November 2013.

SCALE Field Tests: The following passage about projected pass rates associated with specific scores is from page 2 of the “2013 edTPA Summary Field Test Report” published by SCALE:

Based on the 2013 field test data, at a cut score of 42, 58 percent of candidates would have passed edTPA on their first attempt. Field test data, of course, do not fully reflect operational results for several reasons: 1) Candidates are a voluntary sample of prospective teachers who take the assessment in a non-consequential context; 2) Many programs using the assessment for the first time have little experience designing support systems, coursework, or clinical experiences to enable students to demonstrate the targeted skills. Under actual testing circumstances with programs that have become experienced in supporting the assessment, pass rates would be expected to increase.”

NYs Required Passing score: In a Nov. 22, 2013, press release, SED announced a required minimum cut score of 49 for elementary education, 41 for “All other handbook areas,” and 35 for World Languages, Classical Languages.

What problems does retaking the edTPA pose for students who fail?

Retakes pose multiple problems for students and teacher education programs.

First, the edTPA Retake Guidelines require that students use “new” materials.” Unless they have been told to collect and video record more than the three to five lessons required for the Learning Segment, they will have no materials that can be used for the retakes. The following is an excerpt from SCALE’s “Guidelines for edTPA Retake Decision-making and Support:”

Candidates whose performance does not meet the performance standard for edTPA will be able to choose to retake either the entire edTPA OR retake edTPA by submitting only one task. (Retaking two tasks is not an option). All artifacts and commentaries included in a retake must reflect new planning, instructing and/or assessing for student learning, and must not have been previously submitted for edTPA. Revised or edited versions of previously submitted artifacts and commentaries may not be submitted with one exception—when retaking any portion of edTPA, if the candidate can teach the same group of students, the same context information about that group of students may be resubmitted.

Second, students who do not pass the edTPA will have to return to their campuses after graduation to get further training, which could include additional tuition expenses. This will impose financial hardships on students for living expenses and delayed entry into the workforce. It will also impose unfunded costs on college programs for additional faculty time to train students.

Third, it is not practical to expect student teacher placements will be available for retakes. Many programs are currently experiencing a shortage of available K-12 classroom placements because of pressure on teachers caused by rapid implementation of new Common Core requirements.

Is there any evidence that the edTPA is a better assessment of student teachers than certification exams currently in place?

There is no research to support claims that the edTPA identifies quality teachers any better than existing certification requirements do. Predictive validity has not yet been established; therefore, it is highly premature to make the edTPA a high-stakes requirement for teacher certification in New York State.

A Jan. 8, 2014, SED memo titled “Recent Topics and SED Responses Related to the Certification Examinations” concurs that predictive validity has not yet been established. The passage below is from page 6 of the memo:

Topic: Predictive validity of edTPA
The validation of teacher licensure assessments for standardized tests and performance assessment traditionally is anchored in establishing a systematic evaluation of the relationship between the theoretical constructs that define effective teaching and the individual characteristics that define successful job performance. Predictive validity studies for licensure assessments are routinely conducted after a test or assessment has been in operational use. In fact, examining the validity processes used for other forms of performance assessment of teaching, there is not one instance where predictive validity was established prior to the adoption and operational use of the assessment. Most notably, predictive validity studies for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) were conducted after the implementation of the program; the ProTeach performance assessment developed by ETS for Washington State also did not conduct predictive validity studies prior to the implementation and adoption of the teaching assessment. ...

For more information or guidance, members can contact Jamie Dangler, UUP’s statewide vice president for academics and UUP Teacher Education Task Force chair, at 1-800-342-4206 or via email at

Visit UUP’s Teacher education Task force web page at