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Defining Teacher Evaluations and Assessments

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November 05, 2010 05:16 pm

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I recently attended a forum in Washington state involving state policy leaders from the Professional Educator Standards Board, legislators, and higher education preparation programs. The purpose of the forum was to address the pilot implementation of the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) developed by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and Stanford University in partnership with a consortia that includes more than  20 states and over 70 teacher preparation institutions. TPA is based on three assessment processes of teaching practices found to be strongly linked to student learning and achievement—the National Board Certification program, the Connecticut Beginning Educator Support and Training (BEST) teaching portfolio, and the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT).

The TPA is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and to the proposed InTASC model core teaching standards developed under the direction of CCSSO. InTASC is a consortium of state education agencies and national educational organizations dedicated to the reform of the preparation, licensing, and on-going professional development of teachers. The consortium has developed new draft standards comprising a set of principles of effective teaching, revised from the 1992 model standards, in response to new visions for teaching. To view these standards visit here or to learn more about the process, check out a recent webinar that the Alliance held on October 6.

Defining teacher competencies has broad implications for the implementation of the common core state standards. The rubrics used for scoring in TPA mirror the competencies embedded in the CCSI. For example, teachers are asked to sequence instruction on the basis of “big ideas,” make connections and teach higher-order thinking, and scaffold instruction on the basis of learning tasks along a developmental trajectory. The teacher assessments require K-12 students to synthesize information toward a coherent understanding of a concept, process, or phenomenon and write extended essays using evidence to support their analyses.

The long-term goal is to develop a system of performance assessments that can cover different stages of teacher development throughout the career continuum—preservice and initial licensure, induction and professional licensure, and advanced levels through tiered-licensure systems. Surprisingly, Washington State, which has 30 teacher preparation programs, has had a legislative mandate for ten years to use a teacher performance measure for initial licensure. This positions Washington State, as one of a handful that are considered “accelerated states,” to begin using the TPA as the cornerstone of the policy framework for developing and licensing teachers.

To learn more about these efforts check out this recent report, Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: How Teacher Performance Assessments Can Measure and Improve Teaching,  by Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, codirector of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, and an Alliance for Excellent Education governing board member. This study was also covered in the latest edition of Straight A’s, the Alliance’s newsletter.

In the coming months the Alliance will release a publication that is focused on the design of these performance assessments as part of this consortium so stay tuned.

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