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The teacher certification process can be overwhelming for early-career educators. Negotiating teacher identity, completing fieldwork hours, and navigating institutional expectations can stress the most resilient teacher candidates. These pressures are further compounded as teacher certification assessments, such as the edTPA, introduce additional hurdles to achieving state licensure. This study approaches these obstacles by examining the stories of a diverse group of 14 early-career teachers as they reflect on completing edTPA and their current teaching practices. Through social constructivist perspectives and professional learning continuum framing, we interpreted narrative data to examine early-career teacher discussions of completing edTPA and developing pedagogical practices. These 14 teachers elucidated that the collaborative nature of their preparation program was integral to their completing the assessment, that the program approach to completing the portfolio assessment positioned them to think reflexively about their practice, and that the skills and tools used on edTPA remained useful to them throughout their early-career teaching. We suggest ways that preparation programs can interpret this teacher certification policy as an instructional touchpoint and can limit the gatekeeping capabilities of certification exams through collaboration, building capital, and supporting reflective portfolios. This work has implications for policymakers in teacher education and induction programs.
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