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Georgia finalizes adoption of standards to ensure new teachers ready for the classroom

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ATLANTA, July 22, 2015 - Starting this fall, the state of Georgia is strengthening its standards for licensing new teachers by requiring them to pass edTPA™, a performance assessment indicating they really are effective and ready for the classroom.

The new requirement, part of a broad overhaul of the state's structure for evaluating performance of both existing and brand new teachers, will take effect on Sept. 1. At that point, teacher candidates emerging from student teaching will receive their initial "induction" certification only after meeting a qualifying score on edTPA. In addition, teachers enrolled in Georgia's GaTAPP non-traditional preparation program must pass edTPA prior to completing the program.

The new requirement, established by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission with input from representative and diverse task forces, is designed to better ensure that all new teachers are ready to address the different educational needs of each student in the classroom on Day 1.

"We have an opportunity here to use edTPA not only to help our educator preparation providers and their teacher candidates but most importantly, the students of our state," said Kelly Henson, executive secretary of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. "Our newest teachers will have demonstrated their effectiveness in the classroom."

Developed by and for educators, edTPA is a subject-specific assessment that includes versions for 27 different teaching fields. Like other professional licensing examinations in fields such as medicine and nursing, edTPA seeks to ensure that candidates who pass have met the standards of knowledge and skill required of effective practitioners. It also encourages preparation programs to emphasize and support these elements in their training.

Led by Stanford University, more than 1,000 teacher educators and P-to-12 teachers helped develop, pilot, refine and field test edTPA over the last six years. Today, more than 600 teacher preparation programs in some 40 states and the District of Columbia are using edTPA at different levels. And 12 states -- including Georgia -- already have formally adopted edTPA to license new teachers and/or approve teacher preparation programs.

Georgia's embrace of edTPA was finalized earlier this month when the Professional Standards Commission formally set the minimum expectation for aspiring teachers over the next three years. Based on 15 rubrics each with a score scale of 1-5 (and 3 as "ready to teach"), developers of edTPA have recommended states and colleges move toward a national "cut score" of 42 out of the maximum possible 75. Each state, however, has the discretion to set a different passing standard or to decide how quickly to move toward the national recommendation.

In Georgia, the Professional Standards Commission, after careful consideration and input from edTPA advisory and standard setting committees, decided to adopt a passing standard of 38 but to set a slightly lower cut score of 35 for the first two years to provide preparation programs and aspiring teachers time to adjust to the new demands of edTPA

The edTPA process includes a review of a teacher candidate's authentic teaching materials and video segments of the candidate teaching in a live classroom. It requires teacher candidates to demonstrate such skills as designing instruction for students based on their specific needs; assessing student work and adapting lessons to respond to student learning, and analyzing their own teaching effectiveness by reflecting on ways to improve outcomes.

"In working toward edTPA implementation, we've kept the focus on effective teaching practices and not regulatory compliance," said Anne Marie Fenton, the Commission's director of assessment. "We have a shared goal of enhancing teacher performance to make a positive impact on student learning."

The Commission intends to closely examine edTPA data over time before establishing a schedule for moving toward the nationally recommended cut score.

"We welcome Georgia to a growing network of teacher preparation programs that are working together to prepare teachers who are effective with all students,"said Sharon P. Robinson, president and chief executive officer for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. "Georgia is helping to elevate the profession by supporting a core set of expectations for what every teacher should know and be able to do, just as other professions require for licensure or certification."

Stanford is the sole owner of edTPA and oversees the development of all implementation, scoring, and training materials. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education endorses and promotes edTPA. Evaluation Systems, a group of Pearson, is the operational partner that collects the portfolios and organizes scoring and reporting of results to candidates and teacher preparation programs.

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© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602