Commission on Teacher Credentialing evaluates its assessments

The Oct. 12-13 meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) primarily focused on the state’s teaching performance assessments (TPAs), with commission staff presenting an analysis of TPA passing scores between 2018–23. While just an information item, the robust discussion between commissioners and a large volume of written public comments regarding the usefulness of high-stakes assessments brought the assurance of commissioners that the topic would be coming back in future meetings for further discussion and action.

TPAs and results

California has three commission-approved assessments for teacher credentialing: California Teaching Performance Assessment (CalTPA), edTPA and Fresno Assessment for Student Teachers (FAST).

CalTPA: Multiple Subject, Single Subject and World Languages

In 2000, the CalTPA for Multiple Subject, Single Subject and World Language (MS/SS/WL) credentials were first administered. In 2008, passing a TPA became a credential requirement in which candidates had to meet a passing standard. The CalTPA was revised during 2015–17 to align with California’s new Common Core student standards.

The evaluation period showed a “best attempt” passing rate between 100 percent (2018–19 due to lower passing rate cut off in first year) and 95 percent in 2022–23. The best attempt rate refers to the percentage of candidates who passed, including those who took multiple attempts. Data shared also included first attempt pass rates and first attempt mean scores on each of the scoring rubrics.

While nearly all candidates pass in multiple attempts, first attempt pass rates were lowest for candidates of color, with Black and Hispanic candidates at 73 percent and 78 percent, respectively. White and Asian candidates first-attempt pass rates were 82 percent each.

edTPA: Multiple Subject, Single Subject, World Language, Education Specialist

The edTPA is a subject-specific performance assessment initially approved for use in California as a teaching performance assessment in 2014 and again in 2018.

The best attempt pass rate for edTPA: MS/SS ranged from 95 percent in 2018–19 to 97 percent in 2019–22. The 2022–23 rate was 93 percent. The edaTPA: WL best attempt pass rate ranged from a median of 94 percent in 2018–19, to a high of 98 percent in 2020–21, to a low of 81 percent in 2022–23. According to the report, “the 11-percentage point drop for World Language candidates is unexpected, and commission staff will work with ES, the model sponsor, and preparation programs to try and understand why and provide support to programs and candidates as appropriate.”

Similar to disaggregated results for CalTPAs, edTPA candidates of color were less likely to pass on their first attempt than their white peers.

Fresno Assessment of Student Teachers

The FAST is a commission-approved TPA model, designed and used exclusively since 2017 by California State University, Fresno.

The best attempt pass rate for FAST ranged from 100 percent in 2018–19 to 99 percent in 2022–23. Because FAST scores do not include a statistically significant number of Black students, that disaggregated data is not available, but the program has similar passing rates for Hispanic and white candidates. Between 2021–22 and 2022–23, the program saw a 22-percentage point improvement in first attempt pass rates for Southeast Asian candidates.

Improving assessment system

The results of five years of testing allow the commission to study the structure and implementation of the three comparable but different teaching performance assessments. The meeting item called for discussion the extent to which performance assessment implementation is achieving the goals set forth in statute for educator preparation and to take into consideration candidate and program level experiences and consider needed adjustments or updates.

Idea 1: Strengthen the use of performance data as one basis for a program to recommend a candidate for a preliminary teaching credential — this option proposes that if a candidate is within -1.0 Standard Error of Measure (SEM) of the established TPA passing standard, the commission could allow programs to recommend a candidate for a preliminary credential, provided they work closely with those candidates on individual development plans to address any areas of need indicated by the data — thereby, not needing to take the test again.

Idea 2: Strengthen program responsibility for candidate performance on TPAs EC section 44320.2(e) and the commission’s accreditation standards include expectations for the embedding of TPAs in programs, but this is an area that could be reviewed and strengthened. Commission staff, in consultation with preparation program leaders, could develop a formal process for supporting programs with low TPA pass rates. The process could include building a program improvement plan to address the specific rubric level data that indicates low candidate performance.

Idea 3: Convene performance assessment work group — Commission staff could convene a work group of education partners from the three assessments and elsewhere in the field to review the teaching performance expectations measured, structure (tasks and rubrics) and implementation of California’s performance assessments. This group would also review best practices and challenges of implementation along with issues related to reliability in scoring complex sets of evidence of practice, including video evidence.

During public comment, a representative from the California Teachers Association (CTA) referenced the results of a CTA survey of its members submitted in written comments that found “both TPAs undermine teacher preparation and negatively impact the teacher supply and diversity … by imposing lengthy task of low preparatory value during this highly impacted time of teacher preparation.”

Commissioners had a robust discussion on the item, with most agreeing that too much emphasis was put on assessments, when TPAs were meant to be just one of multiple measures of teacher preparedness.

CTC Commissioner Susan Heredia, who is also a Natomas Unified School District trustee and CSBA Past President, paused to reflect on what lessons have been learned and how they can be applied going forward.

“What we’ve learned is that we can embed whatever knowledge is required into the syllabi, if it is closely monitored,” she said. “We learned that there are ways that we can assess those items in the courses, and, over time, we realized that we could eliminate that [testing] anxiety — like we did with the RICA [Reading Instruction Competence Assessment] and the CBEST [California Basic Educational Skills Test] — and find a more humane way to assess the students in our programs. If these assessments have to remain in place, I support the idea of not penalizing the students and having them go on or having an alternative.”

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