Beyond the Scores: Using Candidate Responses on High Stakes Performance Assessment to Inform Teacher Preparation for English Learners

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Assessing the preparation of preservice candidates for quality teaching, both for mainstream students and for ELs, requires reliable and valid assessments that pay close attention to context, process, and reflection, factors that traditional evaluations of teaching either ignore or undervalue. In this article, the authors focus on one high-stakes preservice teacher performance assessment designed to meet these guidelines. The Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT), currently used in 32 teacher preparation programs throughout California, is a comprehensive assessment of knowledge and skills in which candidates analyze and reflect on their own instruction and their students' learning during a "Teaching Event" in their student teaching placements. The authors document how eight elementary teacher candidates from teacher preparation programs throughout California discussed issues related to language and learning for ELs in their extensive written materials about their teaching and their students' learning submitted as part of their PACT Teaching Events. While candidates for elementary credentials can choose to complete a mathematics or a language arts/literacy Teaching Event, the authors focused on those candidates who chose mathematics. The authors focus on mathematics because it is often misunderstood to be a language-free endeavor and because it represents an area in which schools have failed many ELs and other students from non-dominant linguistic backgrounds. The authors argue that the PACT, beyond its function as a high stakes examination used for state licensing decisions, has the potential to provide important information that can serve as formative assessment and feedback for teacher candidates themselves, individual teacher educators, and teacher education programs as a whole.

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Issues in Teacher Education





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