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UMass Dartmouth Beta Site for Teacher Performance Assessment Tool

Evaluating Teacher Candidates’ Readiness for Today’s Diverse Classrooms Using the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA)

Last year’s UMass Dartmouth Noyce Scholars used, and this year’s UMass Dartmouth Noyce Teaching Fellows will be using the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) tool during their practicum semester at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Designed by the TPA Consortium [TPAC - made up of Stanford University, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and Pearson Education], the TPA is a subject area-specific, performance-based assessment for pre-service teacher candidates, centered on student learning.

The TPA Consortium hopes to demonstrate, via research data presently being collected in a three-year nation-wide pilot and field test of the tool, that the development of a nationally accessible teaching performance assessment will allow states, school districts and teacher preparation programs (such as UMass Dartmouth) to share a common framework for defining and measuring a set of core teaching skills that form a valid and robust vision of teacher competence. 

The Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA)

In the fall of 2009, UMass President Jack Wilson was approached by Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester and invited the Schools of Education within the UMass system to pilot a new teacher performance assessment tool known as the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA). 

A consortium of various groups, including the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Stanford University came together to create and test the efficacy of this assessment tool across the nation. 

Presently, twenty-one state departments of education and over one hundred teacher preparation programs are involved with the pilot, with the Massachusetts DESE being considered an “accelerated” state partner in this project.  The main goals of the consortium include the creation of a body of evidence of teaching competence (data being collected via TaskStream), which will, in turn, provide a vehicle for systematically examining the assessment data to improve teacher preparation programs, provide professional development to practicing teachers and inform decisions about tenure of individual teachers.

Ultimately, five universities / colleges across the state of Massachusetts agreed to pilot this new assessment instrument. 

About Teacher Performance Assessment

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and Stanford University (CA) have formed a partnership to develop a nationally accessible measure for beginning teachers - the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA).

This instrument, based on the highly successful Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT), will be made available to states and programs that wish to improve the consistency with which teacher licensure and accreditation decisions are made across states, including the rapidly expanding number and variety of "alternative routes" to licensure.

The assessment system consists of two components - Embedded Signature Assessments (ESAs) that vary across programs and a common portfolio assessment - and the Teaching Event. The ESAs are formative signature assignments embedded in course work. The ESAs vary across programs, are mission driven and reflect program-specific teaching philosophies or goals that contribute to the unique character of program graduates.

For example, embedded assessments may include child case studies, planning instructional units, analyses of student work, and observations of student teaching.

The TPA consists primarily of a series of Teaching Events, a multiple-measure assessment system documenting teaching and learning in 3- to 5-day learning segments for one class of students. Teaching Events are subject specific, with separate forms for multiple-subject (elementary) and single-subject (secondary) credential areas. The specific records of practice, or evidence, in the Teaching Event consist of artifacts of teaching (lesson plans, video clips of instruction, student work samples, teacher assignments, daily reflections) and reflective commentaries that explain the professional judgments underlying the artifacts.

Project Goals

This initiative aims to design and field-test a nationally accessible performance assessment for beginning teachers that will do the following:

  • Allow school districts to analyze teachers' ability to support and advance student achievement.
  • Play a key role in a system of state assessments, beginning with educator preparation and used in the professional development of in-service educators throughout their careers.
  • Contribute in an important way to the development of a more coherent national policy environment for teacher licensure, recruitment, and in-service evaluation and to a more effective national agenda for improvement of teacher quality.
  • Project Status
  • Significant progress has already been achieved in initiating the TPA under the auspices of a planning grant from the Ford Foundation. Specifically, in accordance with the plan, the consortium has completed the following steps:
  • Secured commitments from teams in 20 participating pilot states, consisting of representatives from state education agencies and more than 30 teacher preparation institutions, and conducted a face-to-face meeting of the full consortium to ready states for implementation of the 3-year pilot.
  • Conducted a field-based review of the PACT assessment methodology, upon which this initiative is based.
  • Developed initial policy context analyses for participating states.
  • Convened a design team of leading measurement experts and researchers to inform the development of the nationally accessible TPA.