By Rachel Garver, Drew Gitomer, and Emily Hodge


Policy change may bring benefits and burdens to organizations charged with implementation. When New Jersey removed the requirement to use edTPA as a teacher performance assessment, educator preparation programs (EPPs) foresaw both opportunities for program improvement and operational challenges in exercising their authority to adopt a new performance assessment.

We interviewed 18 EPPs across New Jersey to understand how they perceived and experienced this policy change within their organizations. Through one-hour interviews with program leaders, we heard about the upsides and downsides of designing and administering new teacher performance assessments for their daily work and their efforts to prepare high-quality teachers. Below we discuss some of the unintended organizational consequences of eliminating edTPA highlighted in these interviews.

Opportunities for Program Improvement

Multiple EPPs expressed that this policy change has been an opportunity for program improvement. Some have seen it as a chance to review their practices and develop an assessment that is more authentic and more attentive to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

One EPP expressed that their new performance assessment better represents the work of teachers: “It’s more reflective of what they need to do when they get out in the field anyway, so by losing the edTPA … the quality of what we do with our students isn’t suffering at all.” 

Another EPP explained how they are using this moment of change as an opportunity to revise their performance assessment instrument “to put more emphasis on diversity and inclusion.” 

With performance assessments more closely aligned to teacher work and program priorities, EPPs anticipate that students will be able to spend more time on learning and reflecting on their practice rather than on edTPA preparation. In this way, EPPs see the policy change as an opportunity to organizationally integrate the performance assessment in ways that strengthen teacher preparation in New Jersey.

Challenges of Implementation

On the other hand, we saw that the policy shift posed challenges for EPPs. Investing in this moment as an opportunity for program improvement has been labor intensive.

Adopting a new performance assessment requires systemic changes with implications for curriculum and instruction, as well as extensive coordination. We heard EPPs discuss the work of getting faculty, adjunct instructors, students, and district partners on the same page about adopting a new assessment. One EPP explained that they internally encountered different perspectives on what a valuable performance assessment looks like that made organizational change difficult.

EPPs also discussed the extensive training of instructors required to adopt a new performance assessment. One EPP expressed that change is exciting but will require formidable systemic shifts and training: “As we make changes, it’s very exciting, and really kind of easy to say, we’ll add this section. But to realize that means we need to make changes throughout our whole preparation system and we need to train our supervisors differently. So we’ve got [an instrument] that we’re really excited about for diversity and inclusion. That won’t do us any good if these supervisors don’t understand what we’re talking about…it’s a little daunting, also, to realize that [if] you change this instrument, everything has to change.” 

Another operational challenge that EPPs have encountered is figuring out how to compensate individuals from within their organization to score the performance assessments. Under the prior system, most teacher education students paid a fee to Pearson Education to take the edTPA.  The assessment company then managed the administration and scoring of the assessment system.  Now, each program has to develop their own scoring capabilities.

One EPP that celebrated the quality of assessment made possible by the policy change worried about the time and labor scoring requires: “It is so labor intensive, this type of assessment… Looking back at the work we did with [edTPA]…it was a tremendous amount of work … and …we were providing the appropriate feedback, but not actually scoring. And then if you add to that, the idea of scoring…it is a challenge. How do you have the manpower to really do this in the way that it should be done?”

Another EPP explained that they strategically placed the assessment within a course to include the scoring as part of the instructor’s typical work, avoiding the need to find additional funds. However, this EPP also noted that bias might come into play now that the performance assessments are being scored at home by instructors who know the students personally, while edTPA had been externally and anonymously scored.

Given the challenges of implementation that EPPs have faced, it is notable that most were committed to using this moment of policy change for program improvement, even if that involved additional labor, coordination, and resources.

A Range of Experiences

We found that EPPs across New Jersey varied in how they perceived and experienced their new charge to develop and adopt a teacher performance assessment. In part, these differences related to the size of the program and the degree to which components of the new performance assessment had previously been utilized. For example, operational challenges were exacerbated for big EPPs with several programs and a large cadre of adjunct instructors, as coordinating across large and complex organizations made change more laborious than shifting practices within EPPs with only a few instructors and smaller student populations.

We anticipate that EPPs’ perceptions of this policy shift will change over time as the organizational work moves from designing a new assessment to reviewing student performance and considering revisions to the assessment. We look forward to interviewing EPPs again one year after adopting their new performance assessment to understand how the opportunities and challenges have evolved.