What evolved from these observations and subsequent discussion was an assessment system revision process that has generally followed the following course of action:
Following analysis of quantitative and qualitative data regarding an existing unit assessment, the assessment committee gathered and asked, “What evidence do we need about candidates at various time points?” From there, committee members reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of existing assessments and assessment models used nationwide. Using this information, a new or revised assessment was developed. This was presented to faculty by way of a retreat, feedback was gathered from faculty, and the assessment was revised. Next, faculty volunteered to pilot the new assessment. Based on pilot feedback, continuing solicitations to other faculty for feedback, and analysis of data collected in pilots, the assessment was revised further. The process began again, as the revised, improved assessment was presented again to faculty at a subsequent retreat. Pilot and revision activities were repeated as needed until faculty and the committee recommended that the new assessment undergo full scale implementation. Details describing the evaluations of various components of FSEHD's unit assessment system and the process implemented to improve the system are available.
- The Special Education department annotated the TCWS rubric to better describe for special education candidates the developmental actions/differences between criteria. It has also adopted the Mini Work Sample in two primary practica courses (SPED412 & 424) to best prepare candidates for student teaching and is holding initial discussions about the alignment of courses regarding preparation for and outcomes necessary to ensure candidates readiness for continued progression through the special education program and graduation from elementary to secondary special education focused programs. A complete review of all special education courses and individual artifact data was used to decide the criterion for “Acceptable”. A careful analysis of all course artifact data found that some students received the “Acceptable” rating at the level of C+ in a number of courses and on a number of course artifacts. The faculty determined this as less than the desired level to “meets standard”. As a result, faculty implemented a change to identify “Acceptable” from a C+ (77) to a “B-“ (80) on both course grades and artifact grades. This change was consistent with other key departments (Elementary Education, Secondary Education).
- The department of Educational Studies held a retreat in June 2010 to educate the faculty about the TCWS. Each group looked over the TCWS assessment and determined which of the processes were most applicable to their course and how to address the requirements within their syllabi/curriculum. They are also engaged in a curriculum planning mapping process, the goal of which is to find out what is taught and to what extent holistically see what is redundant and where gaps might exist.
- The Health and Physical Education department has modified HED 202: Principles of Health Education to include a stronger component on writing rationales. This skill will help candidates be more successful in the TCWS, particularly Process #1: Contextual Factors. They also added a new course, HED 417: Advanced Issues in School & Community Health Education. This new course is designed to help students develop strong planning skills and was added to bridge candidates' initial exposure to pedagogy and the Health Education practicum. Candidates analyze contextual factors and plan instruction for the specific audience. They also develop skills related to formative and summative assessment and instructional design. Candidates complete a mini-TCWS in this course. Adjustments were made to HED 325: Assessment in Health and Physical Education to better prepare candidates to determine impact on student learning. Methods of pre-post testing are covered and candidates develop skills related to the analysis of student learning process of the TCWS. Finally, in HED 418: Candidates are now given a second opportunity to demonstrate competency through a TCMWS.
- In Elementary Education, courses have been revised such that each section of each course has the same artifact assessment. Additionally, ELED 436 Teaching Mathematics and ELED 437 Teaching of Science now require each candidate to complete a Teacher Candidate Mini Work Sample as the artifact for that course. ELED 422 Teaching Developmental Reading I now requires each candidate to complete the Implemented Lesson Plan sections on Planning, Action and Reflection. All ELED courses are in the process of aligning their primary course objectives and content. Furthermore, the department will soon hold a meeting to plan for the "backwards design" curriculum mapping at its upcoming retreat so we can assure that our candidates are well-prepared for their exit assessments and entering the profession.
- Other examples of program-specific changes include:
- SECONDARY EDUCATION-SPANISH/FRENCH: Prior to the fall of 2008, the Teacher Candidate Work Sample (TCWS) was not used to evaluate instruction planning or delivery. A consequence of this was that the preferred approach to curricular design that runs through the TCWS, backwards design, was not used either. A possible consequence of this is the possibility of analyzing lesson planning skills and delivery without the careful consideration to the larger enduring understandings and essential questions the unit of instruction was seeking. With the inclusion of the TCWS, a more contextualized approach to lesson planning and delivery is ensured. As a consequence, in addition to the lesson level ability to plan instruction, teacher candidates in modern languages are now asked to create a two-week content-based unit plan following the Understanding by Design curricular guidelines, the Standards for Foreign Language Learning, and the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.
- MIDDLE LEVEL ENDORSEMENT: In collaboration, faculty analyzed the middle level competencies for beginning teachers and, using a backward design model, restructured the standards addressed in each course. They then looked at what assessments would allow for the most detailed data collection about student learning and began implementation of them in January 2011. Finally several new texts were selected and reviewed, current syllabi updated, specific course content changed and restructured. These desired changes came as a result of discussion, collaboration, and informal focus groups with students, as well as with content area professors.
- PHYSICAL EDUCATION: Based on results from the TCWS criteria that candidates “design or adapt relevant learning experiences that include digital tools and resources, ” the program plans to increase opportunities for candidates to incorporate digital tools to promote student learning. The faculty plan to require candidates to use technology (e.g. heart rate monitors pedometers, I-Pods, MP3 players, computers, Fitness Gramsoftware) in PED 413: Creative Rhythms and Dance and student teaching.
- MATHEMATICS (BA): The area in which candidates had the lowest scores among TCWS processes was for Analysis of Student Learning. It is not surprising, given that they have little opportunity before student teaching to analyze student growth over a several-week-period using real assessments. While candidates develop assessments, grade actual student work, and discuss implications for instruction currently during Practicum, it is not sufficient preparation for analysis of learning for a unit of instruction. The program is in the process of developing/locating materials to help candidates acquire this skill during Practicum and develop confidence in their ability before they begin student teaching. Ideally, within the materials there will be opportunity to learn about students in a class and the content they have been taught, examine pre- and post assessment data, and interpret what the data reveals about the effectiveness of instruction and future teaching episodes.
- ENGLISH (MAT): As a result of data collection and analysis from the cohort that piloted the TCWS, faculty learned that their candidates needed further instruction and support in developing and implementing assessment plans and analyzing student data. Thus all methods/practicum courses now provide specific training in assessment, which has resulted in improved candidate scores on the TCWS Assessment Plan and Analysis of Student Learning. That being said, faculty in the English Education Program will continue to emphasize a) designing effective assessment instruments and scoring rubrics, and b) analyzing what student scores might mean about teaching effectiveness, student learning, and the instruments themselves.
- ELEMENTARY Undegraduate Literacy Curriculum Revision. Analysis of assessment data, candidate feedback, and partner schools feedback revealed that while overall literacy preparation is strong, there is inconsistencies among different sections of the same course. The sequence of literacy courses needs to be articulated, and clearly communicated to candidates. See full report on the process and results of the revision process.