Pecheone and center founder Linda Darling-Hammond are working with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education to pilot an entrance test that can be used when awarding teaching certification and licensure.
The TPA has garnered support from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Council of Chief State School Officers for holding potential to help get the best teachers into the profession.
Modeled after the Performance Assessment for California Teachers, the TPA has been modified to be used nationally by aligning it with the CCSSO's Common Core State Standards and the model teaching standards.
Calling the assessment "summative" and "high-stakes," Pecheone said prospective teachers would have to pass it in order to get their teaching certification and it could also be used to determine whether to award tenure.
Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Western Governors University, a national online preparation program, spearheaded the pilot this spring. Iowa and North Carolina will pilot the assessment in the fall. Pecheone expects 10,000 teacher candidates to participate in the pilot.
AACTE will urge its members "to adopt the TPA as a completion requirement for their teacher candidates [and] some of our state partners will be requiring the use of TPA," said Lisa Johnson, a spokeswoman for the group.
Test items featured
The TPA has two features: embedded signature assessments in the teacher's coursework that may include child case studies, planning instructional units, analyses of student work, and observations of student teaching; and a portfolio assessment culminating in a filmed, three- to five-day teaching event documenting subject-specific teaching and learning for one class of students.
The assessment measures actual teaching. Pecheone explained that "it scoops up authentic artifacts, lesson plans, feedback on student assessment, videotape of actual teaching, and it tells us through commentaries from teachers what worked, didn't work, why, and what they would do differently."
"Had I not had it to structure my experience of student teaching, it would have been easy to come in my classroom and skim the surface," said Nicole Barrick Renner, an English teacher at East Literature Magnet School in Nashville, Tenn., who took the PACT as part of her clinical training at Vanderbilt University.
She said the assessment could advance the teacher quality debate beyond firing teachers and toward supporting teachers before they enter classrooms, especially by giving prospective teachers the "reality" and "complexity" of working in schools with students who have varying abilities.
The hardest part of the assessment, Renner explained, was being able to evaluate students' learning needs "not in a touchy-feely way, but in an academic and practical analysis of our own teaching."
Pecheone said scoring is done by clinical faculty, instructional coaches, and National Board Certified Teachers who are experts in the grade level and subject that the teacher being assessed will teach or is teaching.
All teacher candidates in Washington must be evaluated using the TPA beginning in SY 2011-12, with Illinois following soon after, said Johnson, who added that by 2015, Minnesota and Wisconsin will require the test for teacher preparation certification. Ohio and Tennessee are also expected to be among the first states to require the