EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) — More than 40 states use a test called the “edTPA” to determine whether aspiring educators have the skills to teach. Georgia is looking at possibly dropping the licensing requirement.
On June 11th, the Georgia Professionals Standards Commission will decide whether to get rid of the edTPA. The goal to remove barriers that make it harder for any qualified candidate to join the teaching profession, especially during the pandemic.
“It’s $300 to have the assessment sent off.” AU College of Education’s Dean, Dr. Judi Wilson. “If the student doesn’t pass it the first time, they have to take a retake, which is an additional $300. There is a cost barrier that creates some equity issues in terms of being able to recruit and teachers in the profession.”
The policy was implemented in 2015. It’s about a four-month-long assessment student-teachers need to pass to become a teacher.
State School Superintendent, Richard Woods, released a statement saying: The COVID-19 crisis has made clearer what many of us already knew: measuring a teacher’s preparation and skill is more complicated than a high-stakes assessment tool can capture.
“It changes student teaching for the fall,” explained Dr. Wilson. “These students don’t have to come to boot camps multiple times on Saturdays or in the evenings to prepare for the assessment. They don’t have to purchase that voucher for $300, and they don’t have to wait on pins and needles to get their results back.”
Michele Sherman is an associate superintendent for Columbia County. She says removing those barriers will help Georgia recruit and retain more teachers.
“Our teachers work so hard; their primary goal is learning,” said By nature of trying to make sure our kids are learning, we put a lot of extra pressure on them.”
Sherman says dropping the assessment will not phase Columbia County’s hiring process. The school district has other procedures in place to make sure they are hiring qualified teachers, including the three-year mentoring program. However, it could benefit other rural school districts.
“It’s going to give those districts in those rural areas one more opportunity to maybe reach out to a professional in a different field that has been hesitant to come to the education field,” said Sherman.
The dean of the College of Education Department says the edTPA assessment helped Augusta University shape its program. Now, she says this proposal will dramatically change it. AU will look to implement a free evaluation that mirrors the original.
“What I want us to do is, recalibrate, take the good things that we know that strengthen our program to produce better candidates,” explained Wilson. “And to make sure, creatively incorporate those things.”
The PSC also announced that the Georgia Ethics Assessment would be changed. Now, student-teachers will only have to take it once. If the PSC approves the proposal, the edTPA program will be removed on July 1st.