Search your edTPA handbook for the word “target” and the phrase “central focus.” Note the number of times these words appear, as a way to understand the emphasis edTPA places on these elements of teaching and learning.
Also note that failure to attend to learning targets and a central focus as you write lessons and construct your portfolio will limit the strength of your evidence and your ability to write effective commentary.
The relationship between the standard, central focus, and learning targets is hierarchical. Typically, there is one Standard and one Central Focus used to inform and unify learning targets in the lesson sequence. Each lesson has its own learning target.
The central focus is the long-term goal that unites the learning targets. It does not have to be accomplished within the learning segment. The central focus can be described in terms of student behavior, or it can be presented as a concept (originally, edTPA began as PACT [Performance Assessment for California Teachers] and the central focus was defined as a concept).
Nevertheless, probably as a result of standardizing edTPA, concept was renamed as central focus to appeal to a wider audiance, but the important characteristic of the central focus is to use it to unite the learning targets across the learning segment.
For example, the following Central Focus in secondary social studies serves to unite these three learning targets.
Students apply reasoning skills to conduct evidence-based research. (In this case, the goal is to apply reasoning skills, and the concept could be reasoning skills or evidence-based research).
Related Learning Targets
- Students define artifact and list three characteristics of an artifact.
- Students define inference and describe three steps to take to make an inference about a historical artifact.
- Students make inferences about artifacts and write two inferences about the people that made the artifact.
You can either begin planning with a State standard in mind or not. It is just as easy to write your learning targets, pick the central focus, and then locate a State standard that aligns with your plans. Alternatively, you can begin with a State standard, and then write your central focus and learning targets. The order doesn’t matter as much as showing that your learning targets build on one another and are united under the central focus.