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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
Evaluations are based on expert judgments using evidence of candidates’ performance and weighing it against established criteria.
Feedback is intended to be productive; it is not aimed at judgment alone but on ongoing development.
All assessments include the experience of reflective self-assessment.
Assessment is a process involving multiple performances. Candidates experience many assessments using multiple modes, methods, and times to provide a cumulative picture of their development.
Assessment begins during orientation and continues through graduation. For instance, all new students complete an initial communications assessment that includes writing and presenting. The presentation is recorded on videotape, and each student evaluates her own performance before receiving diagnostic and prescriptive feedback from expert assessors.
Alverno faculty believe that performance assessments should be as realistic as possible and should closely mimic the experiences of practicing teachers. In developing the curriculum, they have identified the variety of roles that teachers play. Performance assessments include simulations of parent-teacher interactions, multidisciplinary team evaluation, the teacher’s work with district or building planning, and the teacher’s citizenship role, as well as actual classroom teaching (Diez et al., 1998:2).
Each course is structured around the assessments and learning outcomes that must be demonstrated to claim mastery of the course material. Box F-8 contains two examples: the learning outcomes for a course at Alverno and a course assessment designed to evaluate mastery of one of the outcomes.
Coursework is intentionally sequenced to reflect developmental growth and to provide for cross-course application of concepts. For example, a mathematics methods course assessment might ask students to (1) create a mathematics lesson plan for first graders that incorporates concepts from developmental psychology, (2) teach the lesson, and (3) describe the responses of the learners and the adaptations made.
Alverno requires that student teachers perform all of the duties of a teacher effectively, assuming full responsibility for the classroom for a minimum of four weeks in each placement. They start and end each day of teaching on the same schedule as the cooperating teacher. Their performance is assessed on the five professional teaching abilities by the cooperating teacher, the college supervisor(s), and the student teacher herself.
Research and Program Evaluation
Alverno has documented in detail the ways in which its program abilities were developed. The eight general education abilities were identified during discussions with faculty members about “what it means to say that a student has