A Change is Coming for Aspiring Educators
State education leaders and teacher preparation colleges have recently made their wishes known for improved testing metrics and procedures for their students. With this demand, a gap has emerged in the market for improved data and innovations in test scoring and video assessment technology.
There has been a collective move away from the somewhat narrow scope and vague qualities of current teacher assessment measures. While these tests are relatively easy to quantify, leaders, academics, and administrators currently favor more realistic assessments of educators’ abilities to work in real school settings, facing real challenges. These improvements include portfolio and observation based reviews of teaching abilities, which are great for adding real world metrics to teacher licensure, but are more challenging and time consuming to measure.
Tests Paving the Way Into the Future
The most popular, existing test for teacher licenses is the PRAXIS, used in 39 states. Developed by the Education Testing Service (ETS), also known for the creation of the SAT, among other exams, each state sets their own passing scores on the PRAXIS. Another extensively used test is the edTPA, which helps bring some of the new, in-demand assessment metrics like mock lessons and performance into the overall assessment of teacher readiness. Introduced in recent years, by researchers at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity, 18 states now use the edTPA, with 27 versions of the test available across many academic subjects. It is a performance-based assessment that focuses on instruction, planning, and assessment in the teaching profession.
ETS recently released the NOTE assessment, another test intended to test knowledge of “high-leverage practices” that helps teachers with classroom management. The NOTE “gauges teachers’ ability to model and explain content, lead group discussions, and elicit students’ thinking.” The program utilizes performance-based tasks and simulated classrooms with student avatars, creating a “virtual teaching environment that closely mimics real teaching scenarios,” according to ETS.
Unique Teacher Tests for Unique State Needs
“There’s a move toward a more practice-focused type of instruction,” said Tracy Weinstein, vice president of data and research at Deans for Impact, “There’s an interest in having more authentic assessments, that will look at what teachers can actually do when they’re in a classroom working with kids.”
Deans for Impact is an organization that gathers information from teacher education programs about the strengths and weaknesses of their current practices. The Council of Chief State School Officers also helps individual states and advocacy groups take policy actions toward improving teacher training programs. They consult states that are making any of the 10 changes in licensureopens WORD file , they offer vetting of teacher prep programs, and collect teacher preparedness data.
Some states aren’t using teacher assessments created by third parties, but are rather designing solutions themselves. Massachusetts developed their own tests for teachers and principals recently. The principals’ exam, created with the Bank Street College of Education, as well as with officials and teacher preparation professionals in the state, focuses on school leaders’ skills in areas such as engaging families, and instructional leadership. There is a lot of opportunity to consult with states to create custom testing metrics and tools for their aspiring teachers.
Video Assessments Will Continue to Be Big in This Space
Future teachers could be assessed through videos documenting their classroom performance. These recordings would then be critiqued by faculty in their education program. More platforms are needed with functionality that addresses the wide variety of purposes these videos could have – not only in teacher preparation, but in ongoing professional development. Education technology providers take note – there is room for new products here that meet these demands.
One such business in this space is Edthena, one of the providers of the videos that are part of the assessments in the edTPA. These videos of teacher’s performing lessons and other scenarios are then reviewed and scored to create an overall picture of a candidates qualifications. The relative simplicity and low cost of creating videos today, to be used for assessment purposes, has created a great opportunity in the market for how to use that video data efficiently and effectively.
Many teachers struggle in their first year of teaching, and another benefit of improving the teacher preparation process is that it could introduce them to more of the real challenges they will face in the classroom before they are even employed. More research is needed on how beneficial certain assessments and strategies are in teacher preparation programs, before they are fully embraced.