What is the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA)? The Teacher

What is the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA)?
The Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) is a subject area-specific, performance-based
assessment for pre-service teacher candidates, centered on student learning. Evidence of
candidate teaching competence is drawn from a subject-specific learning segment, 3–5
lessons from a unit of instruction for one class of students. Assessment artifacts include
video clips of instruction, lesson plans, student work samples, analysis of student learning,
and reflective commentaries. Based on the submitted evidence, which is later scored by
trained evaluators, faculty and candidates can discuss the impact of candidates’ teaching
performance on student learning and determine ways to increase effectiveness. Faculty can
analyze evidence of candidate performance to guide decision making about program revision
and renewal. State education agencies will use TPA scores for licensure and accreditation.
Who created the TPA?
The TPA was created by Stanford University faculty and staff with substantive advice from
teacher educators. The Teacher Performance Assessment is led by Stanford University,
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), and Pearson.
What is the TPA designed to achieve?
As a nationally available teacher performance assessment, the TPA:
• Creates a body of evidence of teaching performance
• Contributes evidence for licensure decisions (in combination with other measures)
• Measures a candidate’s readiness for licensure
• Provides a consistent measure across teacher preparation programs
• Supports candidate learning and development of high leverage teaching practices
• Measures candidates’ ability to differentiate instruction for diverse learners, including
English language learners and special education students
• Improves the information base for accreditation of teacher preparation programs
Why do candidates need to complete it?
If the state requires it as part of licensure, along with successful completion of student
teaching and passing the relevant content test, initial licensure applicants will have to have
passed the TPA in their licensure area to be eligible for an initial educator license.
Additionally, our early experiences with the assessment have revealed that along with student
teaching evaluations, the TPA appears to provide deep, systematic assessment of student
strengths and weaknesses. Despite the limitation of having little to no training in how to
complete the TPA tasks, the TPA results per student were consistent with supervisor
impressions of student performance. Furthermore, most students reported that doing the
TPA tasks was a learning experience. They learned about themselves as teachers and gained
a deeper understanding of how theory informs practice. In the long term, we hope that this
assessment will help inform the development of new teachers’ PDPs.
Will the TPA replace our current e-portfolio requirement?
As with our current e-portfolio requirement, teacher candidates submit a portfolio that
contains diverse materials such as the artifacts of planning, teaching, and assessment; written
reflections/commentaries; video clips; and student work samples related to the learning
segment. However, the TPA has many aspects that are unlike our e-portfolio requirements
and processes that are directed at establishing the reliability and validity of the assessment,
including uniform task requirements, and trained scorers using research based rubrics.
Because the TPA is more focused than our standards, we anticipate the TPA will be folded into
or aligned with our standards and become part or nearly all of a student’s e-portfolio.
Isn’t this too much to ask student teachers to accomplish?
We acknowledge that the TPA tasks require more work in documentation, especially as it
relates to the written commentary, and attention to detail on the part of the student teacher.
Unfortunately, the level of documentation required is necessary to ensure that the evaluation
of the student teacher’s portfolio is accurate and that feedback can be detailed enough to
inform the future learning and practice of the teacher candidate. In addition to the greater
amount of work, the task formats and the overall process are new to all associated with our
teacher education programs. However, in future years, the task formats and processes will be
embedded into the programs so that students and cooperating teachers will have experience
with the TPA requirements prior to the summative evaluation. If our experience with the
TPA parallels our experience with the beginning of our e-portfolio system and UW-Madison
Teacher Education standards, and/or California’s experiences with this type of evaluation, it
will take a few years for us to adjust to the new system. After that, what now appears to be
onerous or extreme will become a natural part of our teacher education programs.
Despite the growing pains, we believe that the value of the TPA outweighs the difficulties
that will be associated with the initial years. The TPA tasks focus on the core of all teachers’
instructional practices: (a) planning based on knowledge of the students as well as the
content, (b) teaching and engaging all students by attending to the needs of individual
students as well as the larger group, (c) using assessment to guide instruction and inform
student learning, and (d) improving student learning as well as teacher growth through
teachers’ analyses of their own teaching performance. These practices are assessed as part of
all field experiences; as such, they are not unique to this assessment. However, we currently
do not have a way to systematically document and readily communicate about our students’
skills and knowledge to our multiple audiences, our programs and our students themselves.
The TPA provides us with a way to clearly document the thinking and skills of teacher
candidates in the critical areas. Most important, the TPA provides us with a research-based
tool to help us ensure that only those teacher candidates who have met the standards
associated with effective entry level teachers will be recommended for licensing.
How will it impact your district/school/classroom?
It is important to emphasize that the TPA is an assessment, not something separate and
special. It should be integrated into what the teacher candidate normally does. It should not
interrupt what is being done in the classroom. However, it may offer benefits to the teacher
candidate-cooperating teacher relationship and the relationship between the teacher education
programs and the schools. Cooperating teachers and teacher candidates may find that work
around the tasks provides a context for better coordinated support and offers opportunities for
targeted conversations around the expectations for a newly licensed teacher (the rubrics) and
the thinking of the teacher candidate around the core practices (the commentary prompts).
Additionally, the TPA tasks offer more data for coaching conversations with teacher
candidates’ supervisors and the cooperating teachers. As a result, the TPA will add to the
definition of to the cooperating teacher’s role in coaching the teacher candidates.
Furthermore, it will help to facilitate communication because it provides a common language
for supervisors and/or teacher candidates.
California’s work using this type of performance evaluation reveals that the evaluation
process strengthens and enhances partnerships between teacher education programs and the
PK-12 schools. The benefits include
More informed communication with cooperating teacher
Program data to help guide support of the cooperating teachers, as well as informing
change in teacher education programs by providing real-time information about their
program’s efficacy in the assessed areas
Opportunity to provide professional development that can enhance the quality of
supervision and mentoring, in general. Being trained to score portfolios has ended up
being excellent professional development for supervisors, cooperating teachers, and
Partnerships that assist in new teacher support program