Using Assessment and Data in Secondary Chemistry and Physics Education

A strength is our program's use of edTPA to guide candidate development.  Student teachers complete the rigorous edTPA (a licensure requirement and part of assessment NSTA 1/ COE 1) by about mid semester of their final semester when they are student teaching. Many changes have been made to the program and to supporting courses in Education during the past 2-3 years to prepare them for this assessment. In chemistry and across the sciences, our data indicate that we have been successful at preparing students to succeed in their teaching and edTPA, which requires demonstration of effective planning and implementation of science units, and importantly, using data to assess student learning and their own teaching. There has been a 100% pass rate on the first try our secondary science education canidates  since initial implementation in Fall 2015. Especially important have been the following changes: 1) components of each of the three edTPA tasks have been embedded within both education and science education coursework so that students get a chance to progress from novice to competent levels prior to student teaching; 2) a focus on candidates developing and practicing data-based assessment of student learning before, during and after lessons; and 3) cooperation among College of Education and College of Arts & Sciences faculty to organizing and assist candidates in completing edTPA.  Given the rigors of edTPA, successful candidates are also excelling at implementation in the classroom of lessons (assessment COE 4) and safe science instruction practices (assessment NSTA 4).

 Specifically the candidates first learn about edTPA during their introductory education courses, and complete an extensive edTPA task aligned unit plan document in multiple courses such as Special Education. All student teachers meet each Wednesday during the first half of the semester to discuss and edTPA, although its preparation and completion must be independent. Secondary science candidates prepare an edTPA instructional sequence (assessment NSTA 3/ COE 3) instead of a traditional thematic unit during the Methods course, and film themselves teaching a lesson, analyze student work, and reflect on their teaching using edTPA rubrics for guidance. The final portfolio (assessment COE 6) prepared at the close of student teaching includes documents that are derived directly from edTPA (assessment NSTA 5/COE 5), but also includes SPA specific items aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (assessment NSTA 6). We anticipate no further changes to the program related to edTPA, as those made thus far have proven to be successful. However, we continue to focus on preparing candidates who can use a range of qualitative and quantitative indicators to assess student learning, such as structures of scientific argumentation (claim, evidence, and reasoning), as well as implement effectively science and engineering practices in their classrooms.