Terryl Yates
39 supporters
edTPA FAQ: How Many Students?

edTPA FAQ: How Many Students?

Oct 23, 2021

QUESTION: If I only record 4 students, should I change my Context for Learning?

This question is asked so often that I sometimes want to just run and bury my head when I see it. This is when the "exceptions" that the edTPA has made are more confusing than they are helpful.

FIRST: Let's get some facts straight:

  • Unless you are SPED, the larger the group that you choose to plan your learning segment for, the better. There are many questions about planning for a diverse group of unique learners and that gets harder with a smaller group. Also, when you get to Task Three and have to find patterns of learning, that is MUCH harder to do with a small group.

  • Your Context for Learning is based on the number of students who will learn the material and take the assessment. Are you going to teach this learning segment to the whole class? Or will you only be using a small group throughout this learning segment? The Context for Learning is NOT based on how many students you end up recording. It is based on who you are planning the learning segment for. Who is going to learn this material? Who will end up taking the assessment? To learn more about the Context for Learning, CLICK HERE.

  • Your Task One is planned for the students you are going to teach but sometimes not all of them will end up being recording. Are you teaching everyone? Are you teaching only a small group? Because your Context for Learning also is based on the number of students who will be learning in this learning segment, your lesson plans, instructional materials, assessments, and commentary should reflect your Context for Learning. As I noted before, the more students that you discuss in Task One, the better. To learn more about planning for Task One, CLICK HERE.

  • Task Two allows for you to record a small group of students even if a much larger group is being taught. The intention of this rule was to help you with recording. It was never the intent of edTPA to encourage you to plan a learning segment for four students. We know this because Task One and Task Three work out better the more students that you have. To learn more about Task Two, CLICK HERE.

  • Task Three DOES need to match the Context for Learning (within reason). If you planned your learning segment for an entire class, then your entire class must take the assessment that you analyze. Sometimes students are absent though, right? If you have students that are absent, then just comment on that fact in Prompt 1 of Task Three. There is absolutely no need to change your Context for Learning unless a very significant number of students were absent and never got to make up the assessment. To learn more about Task Three, CLICK HERE.

Important things to remember about recording a small group:

The number of students noted in your Context for Learning does not have to match perfectly the number of students recorded.


If you document a class size in your Context for Learning that is significantly different than the class size in your Task Two video, you will want to explain.

  • Do this in prompt 1 of Task Two.

There are many reasons that you might need to record a smaller group than planned. These are some examples of things that you might need to write in Task 2, prompt 1, in order to explain the discrepancy in numbers:

  • there could be student absences,

  • you might not have received permission to record all of the students,

  • you made an instructional decision to teach the material in small groups rather than in whole groups,

  • it is impossible to capture all of the students on the video due to space and angle constraints.

There are many other plausible reasons to have fewer students in the video than what you originally planned.

What is important is that you give the reason when writing your commentary.

What if I recorded only four students but you can't see all four of them?

Sometimes folks will record four students but when they look at the video, they realize that the viewer isn't going to be able to see all of the four students. For example the camera angle might allow for only the hands or feet on one of the students to be in the view. To understand what you need to do, read this:


  • If you only have a partial view of one or more of your four students, then provide the timestamp and clip # of where this partial view occurs. For example, you might write in Prompt 1 of Task 2 something like, "Only a partial view of the fourth student can be seen in Clip 2. This occurs at 5:08 when you see the student's hands."


Your Context for Learning reflects the number of students you are planning to instruct and assess - NOT the number of students that end up in the recording. If the numbers do not match, then explain in your commentary.

Like what I'm doing? Support my work. Buy me a cup of coffee!!

Don't let edTPA Stand in Your Way!

Mamaw Yates

Click here to schedule Tutoring

Enjoy this post?

Buy Terryl Yates a coffee

More from Terryl Yates