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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
providing effective support and feedback to new teachers so that they continue to develop their knowledge base and skills and choose to remain in the profession;
providing standards-based professional development for both novice and experienced teachers; and
developing teacher leaders by recognizing and relying on experienced teachers to support, assess, and train beginning teachers.
As part of the program, school administrators assign new teachers to mentors, provide opportunities for new teachers to work collaboratively with more senior teachers, provide time for professional development, ensure that new teachers have access to resources and support structures, evaluate teachers and offer constructive feedback, and provide an ongoing orientation program <www.state.ct.us/sde>.
During their first year, beginning teachers are evaluated at the district level through live and video observations. They learn how to systematically document their teaching practices and to use student work to demonstrate student learning, and they develop a long-term plan for professional growth. During year two, teachers use feedback from year one to improve their teaching techniques, and they begin to plan for portfolio development. With guidance from their principal, teachers design a professional development plan that supports the BEST portfolio process and that uses the portfolio components as an avenue to support growth in planning, instructing, student work analysis, and reflecting. The portfolio is submitted in the spring of the second year. During the third year of the induction phase, teachers continue to work on the portfolio, as needed, and share their portfolio experience with other beginning teachers. Third-year teachers begin to expand their goals to focus on district and school improvement goals. They also begin to document their professional responsibilities in preparation for professional growth and tenure <www.state.ct.us/sde>.
The Portfolio Assessment
The portfolio assessment is intended to provide a thorough representation of a teacher’s performance through documentation of teaching over time and by focusing on a specific content/discipline area. In the portfolio, teachers document their methods of lesson planning, teaching and facilitation of student learning, assessment of student work, and self-reflection within a unit of instruction. The portfolio includes evidence from multiple sources, such as lesson plans, videotapes of teaching, teacher commentaries, examples of student work, and formal and informal assessments (Connecticut Department of Education, 1999). Portfolio assessment requirements vary depending on the beginning teacher’s teaching assignment and license endorsement. Content-focused seminars, run by trained teachers, help beginning teachers learn about ways to meet subject spe-