Here in California, our teachers have been asked to adapt almost overnight to the new CAL TPA 2.0. As we prepare our interns and student teachers to master the new tasks, it has been challenging to be part of the initial rollout. The new TPA has two cycles rather than four tasks. While it’s been difficult to keep up as the Commission comes out with policies on the fly, we’ve been pretty successful in our first iteration of the seminar courses. Our university has high pass rates for Cycle 1 and we anticipate the same for Cycle 2.
Despite the chaos of rapid implementation, I’m especially happy about the new TPA. It has been well thought out and it demands critical thinking from teachers as well as students. I happen to think it’s a vast improvement over the 1.0. Teacher candidates have to begin by carefully understanding their students. They have to think about contextual information, including demographics, learning abilities, language learners, and what’s an especially useful addition to the usual categories of EL and SPED. Teachers now have to consider three focus students rather than two. The third category is a student whose learning is affected by life circumstances. This can be poverty, it can be violence or abuse, it can be neglect, or migrant status. I am thrilled that this category is finally being recognized as legitimate, since it does deeply affect learning.
In the next few weeks, I plan to write more about how this set of tasks helps build good teachers.