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N.Y. Regents Defend Certification Exam

New York's Board of Regents took the unusual step earlier this week of defending a performance-based licensing test, the edTPA, that has come under criticism from teacher education faculty.

"There are no school-based factors more crucial to a student's academic success than having an effective teacher in a school led by an effective principal," education Commissioner John King said in a statement. "New York is raising standards for students to ensure they are ready for college and careers, but maximizing the success of that effort requires that we demand just as much excellence from the educators who will teach them."

The state, as I reported a few years back, had taken steps to improve teacher preparation, including by using some Race to the Top cash to fund "clinically rich" preparation programs, and to introduce performance assessments into teacher certification. It ultimately decided to substitute the edTPA for a state-developed test in 2012, and put implementation on an expedited timeline. (One source I spoke with called New York "last to the party and first to the dance floor.")

In response to concerns from preparation programs, the Regents decided to push back by one year, to 2015, the use of the exam. And the state recently set the cutoff scores on the test, which generally look to be fairly challenging.

Still, as recent news reports indicate, some teacher-educators and aspiring teachers still aren't happy. The test itself is time-consuming—critics say repetitive—and faculty are upset that the test, though developed by Stanford University, is being scored by Pearson-trained teacher educators, not professors at the colleges or mentor teachers who, critics argue, ought to have the best grasp of whether the teachers they prepare are ready for the job.

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