What is a Teaching Performance Assessment?
Under new standards for initial teacher education, all courses will have a rigorous, valid, reliable and moderated assessment of classroom teaching in place. This assessment must be in the final year of the course, and passing it must be a graduation requirement.
Why have Ministers introduced this requirement?
Ministers have introduced this requirement because we need to be confident that all graduate teachers are ready to begin their teaching careers. Passing a teaching performance assessment is an important part of this assurance. If really rigorous assessments are in place; parents, principals, teachers and the general public can be confident that graduates are ready.
What do these assessments look like?
The TPAs I’ve seen involve pre-service teachers producing evidence of their teaching across the cycle of planning, teaching, assessing and reflecting. The evidence is structured, so it can be assessed consistently. It’s not the ‘shoebox’ model of an eportfolio, where you just throw in any evidence you can find.
So what does this mean for schools?
Schools may not notice too much difference. A survey of schools using one assessment found that it didn’t require schools or supervising teachers to make much change. I think what schools will have to do is make sure that these final year placements are structured so that pre-service teachers can have a good run at teaching a sequence of lessons that lets them collect enough evidence.
Are schools still involved in assessing pre-service teachers?
In the TPAs I’ve seen, the assessors are not the supervising teachers, but university staff. But it’s important to remember that the TPA is only part of the assessment of an ITE graduate. Under the new standards, to graduate from an ITE course, a person has to do four things:
- Pass the literacy and numeracy test.
- Pass the teaching performance assessment.
- Pass the professional experience component, which is usually assessed by the supervising teacher.
- Pass the rest of the course, which covers all the graduate teaching standards.
So it’s pretty comprehensive, and when all these elements are in place we can be pretty confident of the quality of graduates.
AITSL has seed funded two TPAs. Do all providers have to use one of these assessments?
Providers do not have to use a seed-funded TPA, but there are great benefits for providers cooperating in this space. I don’t think just having one or two assessments would deliver the right outcome for such a diverse ITE sector; at the same time, 48 providers developing their own is too many. So what we were trying to do, was to make sure there were some really solid assessments that ITE providers can use, rather than everyone starting from scratch. And I think we’ve succeeded in that.
What would your advice be for providers setting out to develop a TPA?
I think it’s important to really understand the program standard. It explicitly asks for evidence of things like validity and reliability, and assessor training and moderation processes. You’ll need a strategy for developing all these things. I would also seriously consider working with other providers. This might mean joining an existing group, or seeking out partners. Either way, many of these activities are easier to do at scale, and working with other providers will give great opportunities to get information on the relative strengths and weaknesses of your program. This is one of the under-appreciated benefits of the TPA, that can only really be realised by benchmarking with other providers.
Finally, it is really important to make sure you have access to the right expertise in assessment and psychometrics. The methods for developing these assessments are well documented, but they are a specific area of expertise. AITSL has established an expert advisory group that can help with these issues. The details are on our website