Guidelines on Assessment

An assessment is an evaluated activity or requirement by which a program determines that specific outcomes or standards have been mastered by a candidate. A program is limited to no more than 8 “key” assessments. It must be required that all candidates have taken these assessments. Due to the limitation on the number of assessments, it is expected that these key assessments would be comprehensive and each would most likely address multiple SPA standards.

A single key assessment could include several components, or "sub-assessments." For example, an assessment of candidate impact on student learning could include a pre-test, unit plan, implementation of unit plan, post-test and reflection. Each of these components may be evaluated and scored individually, with a final score computed from the sub-scores. The elementary education program report, in another example, requires assessments in the areas of mathematics, English, science and social studies for its assessments on content and on lesson planning. In most cases, it would be necessary to combine several individual assessments for each of these final key assessments.

It is also possible that a major comprehensive assessment like a portfolio may include several in-depth assessments including evaluations of content knowledge, lesson planning, and student teaching. In this case, it would be appropriate to use the different components of the portfolio as separate assessments.

The submission of any assessment will require the two page narrative and include the three pieces expected as part of each overall assessment in Section IV: (1) the assessment instrument or a complete description of the assessment, (2) the scoring guide (e.g., rubrics, checklist, etc.) for the assessment, and (3) aggregated data derived from the assessment.  All four of these documents must be combined into one document.

Required Forms of Assessment

All programs for Option A are required to include assessments of the following five types. Some SPAs have additional or unique requirements for assessments. Any unique requirements are included in Section IV of the SPA program report template and described in the “Specific Instructions” section of the program report form.

Assessment #1: State Licensure Test (all Options)

Compilers are expected to delineate the relationship of the content (or test specifications) of the state test and the SPA standards.

Licensure test data must reflect the percentage of candidates who have passed the state licensure test in the most recent year. Providing data from three years is optimal. The most recent year of data should include the total scores and, if possible, sub-scores on the licensure test. NCATE and ETS have jointly prepared a document that provides information on how to obtain sub-score information for PRAXIS II tests. Data must be presented for all program completers, even if there were fewer than 10 test takers in a given year.  A Title II, state, or test agency report may be submitted as a scanned attachment, as long as those reports present data as specified above.

See: Documenting Praxis II Data for NCATE Standard One and NCATE/SPA Reports

If the program’s state does not require licensure tests or professional examinations in the content area, data from another assessment must be presented to document candidate attainment of content knowledge.

Assessment #2: Content Assessment (Option A only)

The program is required to have a second assessment that is primarily focused on the content of the SPA standards. Examples of possible SPA-specific assessments have been included in Section IV of the SPA program report template.

Assessment # 3: Assessment of Candidate Ability to Plan Instruction (Option A only)

The program is required to provide an assessment instrument that demonstrates a candidate’s ability to plan as appropriate to his/her discipline. For most initial teacher preparation programs, the most typical example is a unit of instruction, although other types of assessments are acceptable. For other school professionals, this assessment should be one appropriate to the discipline.

Assessment #4: Clinical Practice Assessment (Option A only)

Generic student teaching/internship evaluations (those used by all programs in a unit) will not necessarily provide direct evidence of meeting specific SPA standards. Faculty have several options to ensure that these kinds of unit-wide assessments are appropriate for SPA review. For example, program faculty could develop an addition to a generic student teaching/internship evaluation that does evaluate the candidate on appropriate SPA standards. Faculty could also code elements in the unit-wide assessment with the specific SPA standards that are addressed by the item and, in the narritive in Section IV for this assessment, provide a rationale for how these items are evaluated in practice to ensure that SPA standards are addressed. A third option is to use a SPA specific assessment completed during a pre-student teaching practicum.

It is important to remember NCATE's guidance on effective field and clinical experiences:

Field experiences facilitate candidates’ development as professional educators by providing opportunities for candidates to observe in schools and other agencies, tutor students, participate in education-related community events, interact with families of students, attend school board meetings, and assist teachers or other school professionals prior to clinical practice. Both field experiences and clinical practice reflect the unit’s conceptual framework and help candidates continue to develop the content, professional and pedagogical knowledge, skills and dispositions delineated in standards. Clinical practice allows candidates to use information technology to support teaching and learning. Clinical practice is sufficiently extensive and intensive for candidates to develop and demonstrate proficiencies in the professional roles for which they are preparing. (Standard 3, NCATE Professional Standards 2008 Edition)

Assessment #5: Candidate Impact on Student Learning or on Providing a Supportive Environment for Student Learning (all Options)

NCATE published a paper on the essential components of an assessment that addresses candidate impact on student learning and has provided several examples. This paper (summarized in Quality Teaching, Fall 2004, available on the NCATE web site) outlines four elements that could be included in such an assessment. The essential feature of this evidence is a cluster of activities or performances in which the candidate:

  • Undertakes a diagnosis (a pre-test) or P-12 student learning in some area he or she will teach;

  • Plans an appropriate sequence of instruction to advance P-12 student learning, and teaches in ways that engage P-12 students who bring differing background knowledge and learning needs;

  • Conducts some concluding assessment (or post-test); documents that student learning has occurred, or has not; and

  • Reflects on changes in teaching that might have improved the results.

Assessments #6, 7, and 8 (Option A only):The program is required to submit six assessments, but in most cases, the form of that sixth assessment is determined by program faculty. However, certain SPAs do choose to name a 6th required type of assessment, so please check individual SPAs’ directions for guidance. The strategy for choosing which additional assessments to submit could be based on several factors. For example, it could be that a program’s content-based assessments are relatively weak (Assessments #1 and #2), and the faculty might decide they need another assessment to adequately demonstrate candidate mastery of the content of the SPA standards. Or faculty may find that the assessments they have chosen do not fully address one or more of the SPA standards. In that case, faculty should adapt current assessments or create new assessments that do address the missing SPA standards. While Assessments #7 and #8 are not required, programs can submit any assessment that they feel may strengthen the coverage of the standards.


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