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Crafting the EPiC™ Key Assessment: Transforming Teacher Preparation in Georgia

As educators, we understand the pivotal role assessments play in shaping not only student learning but also the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs. In Georgia, the landscape of teacher education underwent a significant transformation in 2020 when Education Preparation Providers (EPPs) gained the autonomy to choose key assessments tailored to their program's needs. This marked the beginning of an innovative journey for EPPs in the Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (GaTAPP) system.

I had the privilege of being part of a collaborative effort that aimed to create an assessment tool that would not only meet the state's standards but also empower teacher candidates while fostering continuous improvement within our preparation program. Alongside a dedicated team of veteran EPP coordinators from different regions of the state, we embarked on the mission of designing the EPiC™ Key Assessment.

EPiC™ stands for Evaluating Pedagogy in the Classroom—a name that embodies our commitment to excellence in teacher preparation. Our goal was to develop a robust assessment that encompassed essential competencies integral to the daily instructional cycle, including lesson planning, instructional delivery, assessment of student progress, and data analysis for informed decision-making. Our journey spanned four years of meticulous development, field testing, data analysis, content and construct validation, reliability testing, and refinement. Each phase brought invaluable insights and challenges that propelled us closer to our vision of creating a user-friendly, program-based assessment tool.

Being a part of the EPiC™ development process was a transformative experience that revealed gaps within my own preparation program where targeted improvement was needed. For example, one of the milestones in my journey was the realization that my teacher candidates faced challenges with higher-level questioning and rubric creation. The data I received from the EPiC™ Support Dashboard prompted a summer of intensive course revamping, where we tailored our Essentials coursework to address these specific needs. Furthermore, engaging directly with our teacher candidates provided invaluable feedback, guiding us in fine-tuning the assessment to better serve their learning needs.

The culmination of our efforts resulted in the EPiC™ Key Assessment—a two-part performance assessment that not only measures essential competencies but also serves as a catalyst for professional growth and development. It empowers teacher candidates to reflect on their practice, identify areas for growth, and refine their instructional strategies to meet the diverse needs of their students effectively. The endeavors of the EPiC™ Consortium show how a hard-working group of Georgia educators can bring about tremendous, grass-roots-level change that not only impacts the candidates in their own programs but also enhances the quality of teacher preparation within the state and beyond.

As we continue to navigate the ever-evolving field of education, the EPiC™ Key Assessment serves as a testament to our commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. It goes beyond being merely an assessment tool—it embodies our collective passion for fostering excellence in teaching and learning, one teacher candidate at a time.

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