Letter to the editor

I am a student who is interning this semester and one of the first complaints about education I heard was that “teachers are not respected in the mainstream.”

Sadly, my experience with edTPA and the submission by our education department to the edTPA system has led me to see my own profession with less respect.

Students who are not in education should understand that the requirement for a bachelor’s in education is a completion of required classes and a semester spent in the classroom teaching. However, 2018 changed this requirement and added a new qualification element called edTPA.

EdTPA requires education students to record themselves teaching, fill out a terribly bureaucratic commentary, submit to an anonymous grader on the other side of the country and costs an additional $400.

The problem is that if the anonymous grader is not satisfied with your videos and commentary, you are failed and not able to be certified to teach.

My first complaint with this process is not the actual edTPA assignment, but the process taking the power away from the education department and into the hands of a private company.

Why have an education department if they have no say if you are going to be certified to teach?

Pearson Education Inc. decides if you are qualified to teach, not your professors. If this process is kept in place, UNA should eliminate the education department and add edTPA description courses in each teaching discipline department.

A good example would be that biology education majors would take a few edTPA information classes in the biology department. These edTPA classes would require observation hours and practice teaching.

This is a sound alternative because edTPA does not require a good educator to pass, it just requires someone who can fill out the bureaucratic commentary and submit 10-20 minutes worth of video.

I am writing this piece to try and steer away from the scenario given in the last paragraph. I believe that the education department should decide on who should be a teacher, not a private testing company.

UNA professors are the ones who know how the student teacher teaches in the classroom through multiple observations.

The professor knows the authenticity of a student and his/her skills in the classroom. A Pearson Education Inc. testing scorer on the other side of the country has no idea about a candidate, they just have 10-20 minutes of video, a bureaucratic commentary prompt and a pass or fail switch to decide the fate of four years of hard work.

The truth is that everyone knows this system is flawed, they just do not have the guts to say anything.

Everyone should know that Pearson Education Inc. spent millions of dollars between 2009-2014 lobbying lawmakers to get their testing system to be a requirement. Both systems cannot work together, UNA must choose to eliminate one, and I would recommend to eliminate edTPA.

Why do I respect my profession less with the experiences with edTPA?

Are the teachers I am working beside actually good at their job, or are they just good at filling out a commentary prompt and 20 minutes of video?

Editor’s note: The identity of the student has not been revealed at the request of the student, for the student was concerned there could be negative consequences or retaliation from her superiors. The student did not want for the internship environment to become uncomfortable before the student graduated.