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As university supervisors at a large, urban university in the southern US, we examined the ways that the Education Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) shaped the pedagogic relationships and decision-making processes of our students and ourselves during the spring of 2016. We situated this study of edTPA within the framework of critical policy scholarship (Grace, 1984, cited in Lipman, 2010) by reviewing the role of tests in licensing teachers in the context of the perpetual reform of U.S. education. We drew upon Biesta’s (2009) notion that neoliberal accountability trades democratic relationships for consumer relationships and Attick and Boyles’ (2016) argument that edTPA resituated student teaching as a marketplace activity. Applying self-study methodology (Samaras & Freese, 2009), we documented our experiences of supervising preservice teachers as they underwent the edTPA submission process. We found the assessment strongly controlled our relationships with our candidates. As supervisors, we became part of our candidates’ transaction towards certification. Likewise, our candidates viewed us as arbitrators who could help them align themselves and their work to edTPA’s specifications. Nevertheless we found moments that superceded the control of edTPA. We conclude with recommendations that teacher education programs attend closely to their social justice missions and develop new critical pedagogies in the face of the pressure of edTPA.


Originally published in:

Donovan, M. K., & Cannon, S. O. (2018). The university supervisor, edTPA, and the new making of the teacher. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 26(28).