National Assessments for Student Teachers: Documenting Teaching Readiness to the Tipping Point

Oct. 01, 2013

Source: Action in Teacher Education, Volume 35, No. 4 p. 272–285, 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

To evaluate the impact of the emergent national teacher performance assessment (TPA) on student teachers (STs), this study examined a pilot implementation at one university in Washington State during Spring 2011.

The primary research questions were
1. Which aspects of the TPA did the student teachers, the mentor teachers, and university supervisors find to be helpful in advancing ST development and K-12 student learning?
2. Which aspects of the TPA were found to be problematic?

Participants included 10 student teachers and a group of 11 supervisors.

The following data was collected:
1. Field notes from interactions with STs in the field
2. Field notes from University Supervisors Meetings
3. Field notes from Student Teaching Seminar
4. One 1-hour focus group interview with all 10 piloting students
5. Artifacts including emails, ST work, and TPA-related documents.



The findings reveal that there are some potential benefits to the TPA that may positively affect student and teacher learning.
The finding show that STs report greater levels of reflection enabling them to better focus on student thinking.
Similarly, university supervisors see the TPA as an opportunity to shift the analysis of teaching episodes to the ST, thereby developing more complex pedagogical thinking in teacher candidates.
Overall, this study of the TPA pilot demonstrates an encouraging relationship between the portfolio process and the improvement of new teacher assessment practices.

At the same time, there is also evidence that the TPA may need to be altered to accommodate the realities of STs—new teachers who are just entering the educational system.
The data also showed that STs have varying, and in general, less control over what and how they teach.
Thus, they may not have access to solid assessment artifacts, making it implausible to address predetermined teaching standards that may not be accounted for at their placement site.
Thus the TPA, as currently structured and understood by those in the triad, is in danger of positioning STs beyond the “tipping point” in facilitating their development as new teachers while seeking to assess their readiness to teach.
There appears to be too many requirements, and not enough supports, which is typical of many education policies seeking broad-scale standardization of teaching.


The authors recommend that rather than piloting the same TPA across the entire country, different versions of the TPA should be piloted, highlighting varying levels of description, analysis, and reflection.

Updated: Nov. 12, 2014