Raymond Pecheone believes that to fairly evaluate teachers, one must watch them teach and assess the artifacts—such as assignments, lesson plans, and reflections—they use daily. This form of assessment may seem like common sense, says Pecheone, executive director for the Stanford University Center for Assessment Learning and Equities Scale, although it has really been a long time coming. Specifically, this assessment, which began with performance assessments for the licensing of teachers in California, has been 20 years in the making.
The Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA), developed by Pecheone and his colleague Linda Darling-Hammond, researcher and professor at Stanford University, uses video clips combined with evidence from student teachers to measure the effectiveness of teaching candidates over a pe- riod of three to five days. The submitted evidence is scored by trained evaluators at the teaching institutions and then used to make high-stakes decisions for the licensing of new teacher candidates and to bolster teacher accreditation programs.
“This is a new movement,” says Pecheone. “If you’re going to evaluate teachers and their abilities, you have to look at what they do as part of their practice. We’re in a new day around assessments.”
The TPA program is supported by a consortium of over 20 states and their state departments of education, licensure boards, higher education institutes and the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. A pilot project involving 22 states and 85 universities was undertaken for the 2010-2011 school year, and Pecheone says additional field testing will take place in the 2011-2012 school year.
A pilot is currently being conducted in the state of Washington in 16 districts. Michaela Miller, teacher and principal evaluation project manager with the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, says the evaluation systems in the state haven’t been updated in over 25 years.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) created their own teacher development and evaluation guidelines—with input from union leaders— that aligns with the assessments in TPA. “AFT is in complete agreement with what Linda is proposing here for that initial teacher licensure,” says Angela Minnici, associate director of education issues department with AFT. “There is a rigorous movement toward performance-based assessments because they’re more accurate and relevant.”
When the field testing is complete, states may adopt the TPA measures for their teaching licensure requirements.