Teacher Education and Professional Development

Recommendation 9: Instruction in how students learn and how learning can be assessed should be a major component of teacher preservice and professional development programs.

  • This training should be linked to actual experience in classrooms in assessing and interpreting the development of student competence.

  • To ensure that this occurs, state and national standards for teacher licensure and program accreditation should include specific requirements focused on the proper integration of learning and assessment in teachers’ educational experience.

Research on the integration of cognition and measurement also has major implications for teacher education. Teachers need training to understand how children learn subject matter and how assessment tools and practices can be used to obtain useful information about student competence. Both the initial preparation of teachers and their ongoing professional development can incorporate insights and examples from research on the integration of cognitive and measurement science and equip teachers with knowledge and skills they can use to employ high-quality assessments. At the same time, such learning opportunities can enable teachers to transform their practice in ways that will allow them to profit from those assessments.

If such assessments are to be used effectively, teacher education needs to equip beginning teachers with a deep understanding of many of the approaches students might take toward understanding a particular subject area, as well as ways to guide students at different levels toward understanding (Carpenter, Fennema, and Franke, 1996; Griffin and Case 1997). Teachers also need a much better understanding of the kinds of classroom environments that incorporate such knowledge (NRC, 1999b). Typically, teacher education programs provide very little preparation in assessment (Plake and Impara, 1997). Yet teaching in ways that integrate assessment with curriculum and instruction requires a strong understanding of methods of assessment and the uses of assessment data. This does not mean that all teachers need formal training in psychometries. However, teachers need to understand how to use tools that can yield valid inferences about student understanding and thinking, as well as methods of interpreting data derived from assessments.

In addition, school administrators need to provide teachers with ample opportunities to continue their learning about assessment throughout their professional practice. Professional development is increasingly seen as a vital element in improving of practice, for veteran as well as new teachers

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