Improving Preservice Teacher Preparation Through the Teacher Work Sample: Exploring Assessment and Analysis of Student Learning

From Section:
Preservice Teachers
May. 15, 2010
Spring 2010

Source: Action in Teacher Education, v. 32 no. 1,  p. 39-53. (Spring 2010) 
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study describes how pre-service teachers performed on a Teacher Work Sample, a high-stakes instrument completed during student teaching. The study reviewed other available teacher preparation program data as possible confirmation that preservice teachers find the skills associated with assessment challenging to master.

The Renaissance Teacher Work Sample (TWS) was developed by the Renaissance Partnership, a consortium of 11 universities that created a tool to measure and assess the growth of teacher candidates as well as their ability to affect student learning (Renaissance Partnership for Improving Teacher Quality, 2001).
The resulting Renaissance TWS instrument, documents teacher candidates' preparation on seven teaching processes or components believed critical to improving P-12 instruction and student learning (Denner, Norman, Salzman, Pankratz, & Evans, 2004).

Research Questions

To determine across data sources how preservice teachers at this institution were faring in the areas of assessment and analysis of student learning, the following research questions guided the work:
1: How do data within and outside the TWS confirm or refute the premise that preservice teachers are particularly challenged in the areas of planning and developing assessments and analyzing student learning?
2: Within the TWS, how does the design of the learning goals relate to the Assessment Plan and Analysis of Student Learning sections of the TWS? 
3: What do TWS indicator scores tell about preservice teachers' ability to design various types of questions for their assessments?
4: What do TWS indicator scores reveal about preservice teachers' ability to develop assessments aligned with the standards and at the depth of knowledge  indicated in their learning goal? 
5: What do TWS indicator scores show about preservice teachers' ability to make adaptations for individual needs of students?

The current study presents quantitative data gathered from TWS performance, Praxis, and student teacher evaluation scores, as well as student teacher survey responses.

The TWS and other data were collected in the fall and spring semesters of the 2007-2008 academic year. 401 student teachers submitted a TWS at the end of the semester as their capstone project. University faculty members for the student-teaching seminar course to which each student teacher was assigned scored the TWS using a standard, institutionally adopted rubric.


This study, conducted in a large comprehensive university, reveals that designing assessments and analyzing student data are difficult areas for preservice teachers beyond this university. For new teachers to survive their 1st year teaching, they are required to master the skills to design and implement effective lessons and sound classroom management techniques. The lack of focus on assessment and analysis leads to preservice teachers having lesser concern about these skills.

The review of preservice teacher performance on TWS indicators suggests a lack of consensus on how to teach preservice teachers to achieve the skills, particularly in the Assessment Plan and Analysis for Student Learning. A team of instructors could prepare instructional materials that could be used by instructors widrv tips for teaching and examples of proficient student work. Clear explanations could lead preservice teachers to higher levels of performance, which would help provide consistency across the program.
In conclusion, as this study describes the one persistent challenge lies in helping preservice teachers develop their ability to assess the learning of their students is how achievement is measured in education. Thus, this study should be able to serve as a guide for other institutions as they contemplate how best to use performance-based and other readily available data to address this challenge and similar learning challenges that their preservice teachers face.

Denner, P., Norman, A. D., Salzman, S., Pankratz, R., & Evans, S. (2004). The Renaissance Partnership Teacher Work Sample: Evidence supporting score generalizability, validity, and quality of student learning assessment. ATE Yearbook, 12, 23-56.

Renaissance Partnership for Improving Teacher Quality. (2001). Teacher Work Sample: Performance prompt, teaching process standards, scoring rubrics. Retrieved from http://fp.uni.due/itq/ProjectActivities/index.htm

Updated: Oct. 28, 2019
Educational strategies | Evaluation | Student teachers | Teacher education programs | Teaching skills | Work sample tests