Using Performance-Based Assessments as Part of Quality Assurance System for Program Improvement

Using Performance-Based Assessments as Part of Quality Assurance System for Program Improvement

Erin Thomas Horne (NC State University, USA), Malina K. Monaco (NC State University, USA), Sarah E. Cannon (NC State University, USA) and Charlotte E. Roberts (NC State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8353-0.ch001
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As the use of performance-based assessments continues to spread nationally, teacher preparation programs must negotiate the role of these assessments and their data as part of their quality assurance systems. This chapter will explore how one educator preparation program leveraged local and national performance-based assessments to build the foundation of their quality assurance system. Further, discussion will illustrate how they engaged in a cycle of continuous improvement based on teacher candidate outcomes.
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As a result of unprecedented levels of federal government spending on public education, the pressures of accountability have increased for both students and teachers in P-12 educational contexts (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). These pressures have extended beyond the P-12 classroom walls with increasing scrutiny being placed on colleges of education to provide evidence that their educator preparation programs (EPPs) have a positive impact on the learning of the P-12 students their graduates will serve. From the business model perspective, the notion that the effectiveness of EPPs can be measured by a teacher’s impact on their students’ achievement has stirred national debate and action (Baker et. al., 2010; Dillon, 2010). In spite of this debate, many states are developing complex data and assessment systems for just that - measuring student achievement and growth to evaluate teachers and the programs that prepared them. These student achievement data are cross-analyzed with a variety of factors such as teacher experience and the socio-economic status and racial/ethnic makeup of the student population.

To meet the challenges stemming from this “reform,” colleges of education must develop their own cohesive assessment systems, in which data are used not only as a compliance metric to meet federal and state mandates and provide for continuous program improvement but also to demonstrate impact on student learning. The development of these assessment plans can serve as the impetus for new assessment practices. EPPs must carefully consider the types of assessments, which best demonstrate the effectiveness of programs; so, their program completers have documented metrics on their highly qualified label. These independent assessment points can be connected to state data systems. Building the bridge between state and candidate data is critical in presenting a clear accountability picture.

As sources from outside the realm of higher education seek to exert demands on teacher preparation via accountability measures, many professionals within the field seek to reclaim the direction of these trends via educator-produced performance measures (Darling-Hammond & Snyder, 2000; Sandholtz & Shea, 2011). The swift development and adaptation of edTPA across the nation is an example of such trends. edTPA’s predecessor, the Performance Assessment of California Teachers (PACT) was developed in response to legislation requiring that each teacher candidate in California complete a performance-based assessment before receiving their license. Rather than utilize an assessment created by an outside constituency, a consortium of faculty and staff from multiple EPPs seized the opportunity to develop a performance-based assessment representing the standards of professional teaching organizations from various fields (Chung, 2008; Darling-Hammond & Hyler, 2013). As the use of PACT in California solidified, other states began requesting access to this profession-driven performance-based assessment. Hence, the PACT was repackaged and repurposed, morphing into the national assessment, edTPA. Since the instrument was piloted in 2013, the adoption of edTPA has quickly spread across the nation - at the time of this publication, edTPA is in use in 41 states and the District of Columbia with 18 states having passed official state policy (AACTE, 2018). While edTPA is certainly not the only performance-based assessment being adopted by Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) across the nation, the story of its development and rapid-fire growth illustrates the potential power of performance-based assessments in shifting accountability conversations to include measures valued by the profession.

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