What Teacher Preparation Programs Teach about K-12 Assessment

Collecting student-level data is a necessity for schools and districts looking to track and improve achievement. But it is not sufficient. To realize the transformative power of data, teachers must know how to analyze and utilize this information to inform instruction. Yet teacher-preparation programs provide woefully inadequate training on this front, according to this National Council on Teacher Quality report. The authors evaluated 455 courses in 180 undergraduate and graduate teacher-prep programs along three needed “areas of knowledge”: assessment literacy (whether the course teaches how to measure student performance), analytical skills (whether it teaches how to analyze data), and instructional decision-making (whether it informs the use of data to plan instruction). The upshot: Teacher-preparation programs are doing a lousy job on all of these fronts. NCTQ offers recommendations to rectify this situation. For example, the federal government should invest in research, states should tighten the accountability screws on these programs, and foundations should develop institutional datasets on which prospective teachers can practice during the course of their prep programs. Most interesting is the recommendation that districts leverage their hiring power to influence the syllabi and course-offerings of teacher-prep programs. Districts flexing their might to change education-school norms. What a novel idea.

SOURCE: Julie Greenberg and Kate Walsh, What Teacher Preparation Programs Teach about K-12 Assessment (Washington, D.C.: National Council on Teacher Quality, May 2012).

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