Assessing Teacher Performance: Performance-Based Assessment in Teacher Education
reviewed by Vicki Wise - December 07, 2006
Title: Assessing Teacher Performance: Performance-Based Assessment in Teacher Education
Author(s): Sharon Castle and Beverly D. Shaklee (Eds.)
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham
ISBN: 1578864186 , Pages: 216, Year: 2006
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If there is such a thing as just in time reading, then this book delivers just that. This well-written book takes the reader on a journey from discovering the historical roots and growth of our accountability system in education to how we in teacher education currently respond to this system. And, in turn, we learn about the expectations of accrediting bodies such as the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), specialized professional organizations (SPA), and how these organizations shape, and at times, drive what we do in practice.
The authors, Castle and Shaklee, do a fine job of interweaving the historical path of accountability in K-12 education and its effect on teacher education programs. Educational accrediting organizations have worked collaboratively to respond to the increased need for accountability, while at the same time striving to preserve what is unique to individual education programs. NCATE and the SPAs have managed to get on the same page with their expectations for teacher education (no small feat) while providing much guidance and resources to teacher education programs.
Creating a unit assessment team and system
As I am in the position of guiding my university in their NCATE efforts, I appreciated reading about the process the authors and their colleagues at George Mason engaged in to instill an assessment mindset and to create faculty investment in the process. When the NACTE review is off in the distance, it can be quite challenging to motivate others to think about assessment. In particular, assessment at the unit-level is even less of a concern than assessment at the program level, although the two are inextricably interwoven.
The authors convey, and I agree, that assessment should be used to inform what we do, not drive what we do. My experience has been that we do plenty of assessment at the program level, perhaps too much; the key is to identify and then refine the assessments that best measure what we think our students should know and do.
Summative versus formative assessments
The authors provide excellent examples of performance assessments for both preservice teacher candidates and practicing teachers. Not only do the authors provide us with tools to use; they offer credibility evidence (in NCATE language) for the validity, reliability, and fairness of these assessments. They help us to think in terms of the judgments we will make about students, programs, and the consequences of these judgments in both a formative and summative sense. Teacher educators will find this book indispensable in developing a unit assessment system for collecting and aggregating teacher candidate performance data.