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Interest in Performance Assessment Abounds at AACTE National Conference

The discussion about developing and integrating high-quality teacher performance assessments across the continuum of teacher preparation was the highlight of several sessions offered at AACTE’s recent Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

An audience poll during the AACTE Town Hall Meeting illustrated that most of us work in states that either have policies regarding performance assessments in place or are considering implementing such policies in the near future. It’s no wonder, then, that related sessions were well attended. Their popularity collectively suggests much about the types of questions we have as a field:

  • What do high-quality performance assessments look like?
  • What competencies do they measure?
  • How and at what point are these assessments being implemented in educator preparation programs across the nation?
  • How do we ensure that locally developed performance assessments measure the competencies for which they are designed?

While many sessions addressed the use, development, implementation, and evaluation of performance assessments, I’d like to highlight a few that particularly resonated with me.

First, Maria Hyler (University of Maryland), Marvin Lynn (Indiana University South Bend), and Etta Hollins (University of Missouri at Kansas City) spoke about the development of an embedded signature assessment focused on raising the contextual knowledge and responsiveness of preservice teachers in the communities they serve. Key takeaways from this session included the importance of context in preparing preservice teachers to meet the needs of diverse students, through an understanding of and commitment to the community in which they serve, and the need to integrate these types of high-quality signature assessments across the continuum of teacher education as a part of program design. The presenters cautioned, however, that performance assessments ought to be of the correct “grain size” so as to push student development aligned to specific, meaningful outcomes.

A subsequent session dedicated to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation’s Standard 1 brought in a crowd. Lance Tomei (University of Central Florida and LiveText) addressed his rapt audience about best practices in “Developing and Reviewing High-Quality Rubrics.” Tomei highlighted the most common errors made in rubric development and offered a bevy of illustrative exemplars as well as a meta-analysis tool for assessing the quality of rubrics. He also corrected common misconceptions about the development and use of rubrics. Of particular interest to me was his insistence that the same high-quality rubrics should be experienced a number of times across the continuum of teacher preparation, not only as isolated summative measures.

In another session, leaders from edTPA and the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity updated attendees on the past year’s implementation efforts. This discussion was followed by a question-and-answer session wherein Ray Pecheone addressed concerns about implementation and support and fielded audience questions. Among the most pressing issues brought to bear in this conversation was defining appropriate support for candidates completing edTPA.

Together, these sessions and others provided Annual Meeting attendees a lucrative space for advancing AACTE’s strategic goals to “launch and sustain system-wide initiatives…to prepare educators who can serve diverse learners” and to “advance the implementation of high-quality learning practices grounded in research.”


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Amanda Bush

George Mason University - AACTE intern

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