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Videotaping Student-Teachers

Starting this fall, candidates for a teaching license in New Jersey will be required to submit a classroom video as part of a Pearson test called the edTPA ("N.J. Student-Teacher Videos Raise Privacy Concerns," The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21).  Concerned that doing so will violate the privacy rights of students, some superintendents said they will not accept any student teachers.

Although videotaping can provide valuable feedback, I believe that direct observation by trained evaluators not only avoids the possibility of violating student privacy, but it is also more authentic.  The presence of a camera in a classroom distorts the relationship between teachers and students.  Moreover, the current or recently retired educators hired by Pearson are unfamiliar with a school's unique challenges.

Even the most carefully designed scoring rubrics by outsiders are no substitute for personal familiarity of particular schools.  When I was working on my California teaching creential, I was observed often by evaluators from the UCLA Graduate School of Education.  They knew the high school where I student taught and was subsequently hired.  Putting aside the privacy issue, I doubt that a videotape would have added anything.

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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