NIU College of Education students rocked the edTPA last semester – again.
One hundred percent of graduate students and 98 percent of undergraduates passed the mandatory assessment required to obtain teacher licensure in Illinois and several other states, continuing the college’s success story of posting numbers well ahead of state and national results.
It confirms the college’s mission “to prepare students to be leaders in their chosen professions” as well as the value placed on a student-centered education built on providing resources and support.
Behind this achievement are excellent students, nurturing guidance from faculty, an on-campus office committed to helping students through the process and collaboration with school districts.
“We have a lot of institutional pride in our student success and in our faculty and coordinator contributions,” says Jenny Parker, associate vice provost for the Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation at NIU. “Our programs have committed to integrating – early and often – the skills needed for teaching with both internal and external support.”
Judy Boisen, associate director for edTPA at NIU, is fully devoted to helping teacher-candidates succeed on three-part assessment.
Boisen, who previously taught high school science for 35 years, conducts edTPA workshops for students, university supervisors and NIU faculty. Supervisors and faculty also are provided edTPA data to determine what is going right, where improvement is needed and how to incorporate those realizations into their curricula.
She also offers a PowerPoint series for cooperating teachers in the K-12 schools that stresses the importance of the edTPA and their role in that process; her website provides tips for success to teacher-candidates.
Jennifer Johnson, director of teacher preparation and development in the NIU College of Education, believes in the additional preparation NIU makes available to students.
“The edTPA is a high-stakes assessment that could impact your ability to get a teacher’s license. It mandates that all teachers will be highly qualified,” Johnson says. “Our College of Education students were so successful on the edTPA because our faculty took a vested interest in supporting them. The students practice these skills during multiple semesters, and we will continue to do that. We will keep working.”
College of Education teacher-education students hear “a constant message throughout their course of study” on the importance of edTPA preparation, adds Anne Gregory, chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Faculty, meanwhile, clearly identify aspects of coursework activities and assignments “that mirror or, with a few tweaks, could better mirror the edTPA.”
Preparing for the edTPA enables them to identify instructional needs, to study those in their NIU classrooms, to model them in student-teaching and then, Gregory says, “look to see if their students grow as well. It’s what good teachers do naturally as they gain some experience, and it’s a preview of what they will do consistently.”
Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education alumna Laura Tuma agrees.
“My professors took the bull by the horns and were able to break it down, step by step,” says Tuma, now a physical education teacher in suburban Yorkville. “They integrated chunks of the edTPA into all of our classes.”
She sees its value at work. During every-Wednesday staff meetings with her colleagues from all disciplines, collaborative discussions often focus on assessment.
“That’s what the edTPA was all about – assessments, and what you are going to do with those,” Tuma says. “That’s huge at my school. They want to see data. They want to know numbers. They want to see the success in our students, and that they’re learning.”