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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
of performance-based teacher assessments. These assessments are used to certify the accomplishment of experienced teachers. They provide an existence proof that performance-based assessment can be implemented on a large scale for assessing teacher competence. The NBPTS assessments have instigated and provide a basis for the work of INTASC and several states.
The committee also examined Connecticut’s subject-specific portfolio assessments. Connecticut’s assessments are of interest because they emulate the NBPTS assessments and were developed in collaboration with INTASC. These assessments are taken by beginning teachers during their second and/or third years of teaching as part of second-stage licensure. Additionally, the committee studied Ohio’s work with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) on the PATHWISE Classroom Induction Program-Praxis III and the Praxis III performance-based assessment. These systems are of interest because they use direct observations of classroom practice and are intended for use by more than one state. Like the Praxis I and II tests, these ETS products theoretically are viable options for many states. These programs are geared toward new teachers, with Praxis III intended for use in second-stage licensure.
Finally, the committee studied Alverno College’s integrated ongoing learning and assessment program for teacher candidates. Alverno’s program is of interest because it provides an example of a system in which a party other than a state or district could warrant teacher competence. In fact, licensing tests are used in Alverno College’s home state (Wisconsin), but the committee wanted to push its thinking about models in which teacher education institutions warrant candidates’ capabilities.
The committee’s intention in studying these cases was to pose multiple viable models for consideration in judging teacher competence.2 The committee wanted to address how these different assessment systems work to support evidence-based decisions about teacher competence and, ultimately, a well-qualified and diverse work force. Given the limited scope of what is assessed by conventional licensure tests, the committee also wanted to encourage further research into the development and evaluation of performance-based assessment systems in teaching.
Not all of these assessment systems are in full operation. For instance, performance-based assessment systems for teachers in Connecticut and Ohio—states that lead the nation in the use of such systems—are still under development, and much of the planned validity evidence is not yet available. Even the NBPTS, which has many assessments fully operationalized, is still developing standards
In choosing among alternatives to conventional licensing procedures and in keeping within its charge, the committee remained within the framework of licensing systems. The committee therefore did not conduct an analysis of wholly market-based solutions in which licensure is not a prerequisite for employment and decision making is decentralized to the school or district level.