What teachers aren't learning about assessment...and we mean ANY kind of assessment

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Teachers have always had to apply the results they glean from all sorts of assessments of their students -- from  quizzes to final exams, and, more recently, to formal district and state standardized tests. The more skilled teachers are at interpreting test results, the more responsive they can be to students' instructional needs.

In our new report looking at the preparation in assessment provided to teacher candidates, we evaluate both the pre-service coursework related to assessment and the assignments given to student teachers. As the report details, the vast majority of programs we examined proved inadequate in the area of preparation for K-12 assessment, but not because coursework fails to acknowledge that teachers will have to administer standardized tests (still perceived in some quarters as an evil development that must be resisted or just ignored). In fact, our report merely substantiates a statement in a 2010 NCATE report that "[a]necdotal reports and statistical surveys suggest that teacher preparation programs typically provide little instruction about assessments and their positive use as tools of learning, and few opportunities exist for candidates to practice their use in field and clinical experiences."  

In other words, ignore the issue of standardized tests, and we still only documented what others like NCATE have suspected. In fact, if we hadn't factored coverage of standardized assessments into our scoring, ratings would have shifted for only 6 of the 180 programs we reviewed. This means that the 17 percent of programs that we rated either "partially adequate" or "adequate" would have increased marginally to 20 percent. The insignificance of this change is something we can all agree on, no?

Assessments of any kind are tools educators use to learn more about their students, diagnose students' specific academic needs, develop student groups, and refine future lesson plans. Teacher prep must provide its teacher candidates with explicit opportunities to practice the technical and collaborative skills involved in this demanding process. New teachers must be prepared with the skills their hiring districts will expect of them.

Julie Greenberg