AACTE Chapter Develops Statewide Student Teacher Observation Tool

This report highlights the use of an AACTE State Chapter Support Grant by the North Dakota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. July 28 is the deadline to apply for this year’s grants. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

With assistance from an AACTE State Chapter Support Grant, the North Dakota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (NDACTE) recently completed collaborative work on a statewide student teacher observation tool (STOT). This tool is the fourth common assessment developed in a major effort to improve the quality of teacher preparation through implementation of a statewide preservice and first-year teacher performance assessment system across public, private, and tribal programs.

The STOT was created in 2016, and two confirmatory factor analyses established the tool as a valid and reliable accreditation measure for performance of preservice teachers on four factors: the learner and learning, content knowledge, instructional practices, and professional responsibilities. The items within these factors are aligned with the InTASC model core teaching standards.

“The investment put into the STOT is visible in the high level of validity and reliability and in the positive feedback we have received from cooperating teachers and university supervisors,” said Stacy Duffield, professor at North Dakota State University. “They tell us it captures the most important student teacher performances without being too lengthy.” The significance of this work is compounded because it represents voluntary collaboration across the state’s educator preparation programs, and the STOT is linked to graduate, first-year, and employer surveys for longitudinal and predictive exploration.

Collaborative efforts among members of professional communities can bring challenges, but the experiences also have the potential to develop products that are more powerful than any one institution may have produced individually. “Collaborating to reach consensus on common assessments is difficult,” noted Al Olson from Valley City State University. “Teacher education program preferences, as well as variance among leading researchers and authors in the field, provided a vast array of choices for the direction of the assessment instrument and items. It was impressive to witness teacher education representatives from across the state collaborate to produce a quality instrument to serve teacher candidates, cooperating teachers, and university supervisors.”

The STOT instrument is an important piece for gathering quality data collections that can be analyzed to improve teacher preparation and positively impact teaching and learning in the state. The validity and reliability of the instrument instills confidence in using the data for program improvement and accreditation.

The process of creating and refining a common student teaching observation protocol can be replicated by other higher education partners, and the validated tool is available for immediate use by interested teacher preparation programs. To learn more about the work of NDACTE, to access the STOT, or review validation reports, visit ndacte.org.

Sarah Anderson is an associate professor at Mayville State University.

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Sarah Anderson

Associate Professor, Mayville State University