Outcomes assessment is not new to teacher education programs, as data demonstrating student learning is a major component in program and national accreditation, and in turn impacts curriculum decisions.
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), soon to be called the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), are the primary accreditation bodies for the School of Education, which requires institutions to regularly and systematically collect, compile, aggregate, summarize, analyze, and use data to continually improve. Additionally, as part of the accreditation process each program must also present evidence of key assessments in an evaluation report to their related Specialized Professional Associations (SPA). For example, the Graduate Childhood Program reports to the Association of Childhood Education International (ACEI) and the Graduate Science Education reports to the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) to demonstrate that program candidates are meeting the SPA standards. Every member of the School of Education faculty is in some way involved in the re-accreditation process.
New York State is now joining the national movement to evaluate teacher readiness for classroom teaching using the New York State Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) as a certification requirement. This rigorous assessment will include submission of an ePortfolio with written commentary (or what is often referred to as reflection) specifically responding to teaching practice prompts. To prepare our students for the new certification requirements, program coordinators and faculty at the School of Education have mapped their assignments and courses so students are prepared for the new “exam” ePortfolio. During the student teaching semester all students will be engaged in ePortfolio work.
With the accreditation and certification demands, many of our programs are likely to consider an ePortfolio as a digital container for collecting assignments and key assessments. The opportunity and goal to digitally collect all the required material and data in a single portfolio will be beneficial for school-wide learning, program learning and student learning. However, this gives the impression that our ePortfolio work is assessment driven, which it is not.
Since 2008, several faculty in the School of Education have been engaging the pedagogical benefits of ePortfolios in their capstone courses and programs. With a focus on reflective practice (a key feature of teacher education) and integrative learning, ePortfolios have been used to help students develop a strong professional identity. In addition to aligning key assignments to professional standards, our students in ePortfolio courses share their philosophy, reflect on their growth as an educator/leader and showcase aspects of their skills and development.
Adapting Taskstream as our ePortfolio platform has given the School of Education a lot of “back end” data about our candidates. Deepening our evaluation, The School of Education also enters candidate data (e.g., admissions information, GPAs, test scores, etc.) into Taskstream. In the fall semester of 2012 (after a pilot during 2011-2012 with a subsample of completers from the past two years), the School of Education instituted the use of Taskstream to collect, assess, and analyze the data for student teachers and interns.
New assessments such as the Impact on Student Learning and Professional Dispositions were fully implemented in Taskstream for the first time during fall 2012. As the School of Education increasingly uses the assessment features available in Taskstream, the Assessment Coordinator has provided faculty with program and unit data assisting our data-driven decision-making.
Please visit our ePortfolio assessment approaches blog post to learn about specific program examples.