Source: Action in Teacher Education, Volume 35, Issue 2, (2013), p. 125–142.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This case study examines the impact of implementation of a standardized teacher performance assessment (TPA) on the infusion of multicultural education across a secondary education teacher preparation program.
The participants were 160 graduate-level teacher candidates and 90 undergraduate multicultural education course students, who studied at Urban University’s teacher preparation program.
Data were collected and triangulated via observations, interviews, and document analyses.
Findings show that a number of participants in this study conflated the TPA with standardized assessments in general, thereby influencing perceptions of TPA benefits and drawbacks.
The findings reveal that teacher candidates exhibited movement toward the TPA’s objectives of supporting culturally and linguistically diverse learners by helping them to access core lesson content.
However, at the same time teacher candidates observed a disconnect between the TPA and multicultural education-related topics and expressed desire for the opportunity to make such connections in class.
Moreover, math and physical education teacher candidates continued to hold the impression that the backgrounds of their learners did not impact how they taught their subject areas.
This misconception was observed in research demonstrating the need for math teacher candidates to recognize and teach academic language in their content area (Scalzo, 2010).
The TPA observed in this study required teacher candidates to design lessons to help their students to access academic content by addressing their unique academic language needs and connecting curricula to student background.
However, the TPA did not explicitly guide teacher candidates to reflect on critical questions on how teacher candidates’ own intercultural experiences impact their ability to practice culturally relevant pedagogy.
Moreover, these reflections demonstrated that engaging in supportive networks over time can lead to deeper insights and greater theory-to-practice transfer in diverse contexts .
Faculty efforts to model reflection on background, bias, and inequity can inspire teacher candidate reflection and discussion on such topics, as in this study when a teacher candidate shared feeling rejected by a student of a different racial background, and when another teacher candidate expressed fear in approaching the teaching profession as a gay teacher. Such moments of transparency require community support, which may not be nurtured and assessed effectively by a standardized assessment.
Current TPA efforts suggest the use of standardized assessments in teacher education will increase.
Thus, educators must capitalize on ways such assessments prepare teacher candidates for diverse classrooms, while also “filling in the gaps” where TPAs or other standardized assessments may not address multicultural education objectives sufficiently.
In approaching this task constructively, distinctions between TPAs and standardized assessments in general must be recognized.
In addition, faculty across university and P–12 contexts might use TPAs to collaborate and partner in the teacher preparation process, including drawing upon TPAs in revising program practice based on teacher candidate performance.
The authors recommend to develop professional learning communities cultivate relational trust and transparent critical reflection on personal background, bias, institutional inequity, and examine the impact of each on the teaching and learning process.
This study also recommends that program-implemented TPAs should draw upon a multitude of views across education contexts and levels in examining how they support and challenge multicultural education practices, the preparation of teacher candidates to teach diverse student populations, and other program objectives.