Recent challenges concerning the quality of teachers and the programs that prepare them have resulted in responses from professional organizations that have been more widespread and intense than in the past (Robinson, 2011; Wiseman, 2012). The Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation (BRP) formed by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the merger of NCATE and Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) into Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to improve teacher education (Cibulka, 2011), and the Teacher Performance Assessment Initiative which emerged from collaboration between the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) member institutions (Robinson, 2011) are examples of ways that professional organizations have responded to the challenges. In general, calls for performance assessments of teaching to provide both formative and summative information about the quality of teachers, teacher candidates, and teacher preparation programs pervade the current discourse on education at every level, including schools and districts, institutions of higher education, state and national policymaking entities, and professional organizations. As a result, a number of performance assessments have emerged that can provide feedback to teacher education programs about the strengths and weaknesses of their candidates as well as evidence for licensure and certification of teachers. For example, Education Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) was designed to provide information for program improvement through the use of a common set of performance assessments for preservice teachers and has also been adopted by states and districts for summative evaluation purposes (http://edtpa.aacte.org/). The multiple performance measures in systems like edTPA improve upon value added models (VAM) by providing information on teaching quality, not just teacher quality or teacher effectiveness, and provide information sooner than might be accomplished by use of VAM alone (Newton, 2010).
For this theme issue, we invited research and conceptual articles related to teacher performance assessments specifically as they affect teacher education, including validation studies of measures used in the assessments. We posed a series of questions that we considered important for researchers to address related to performance assessments, including the following:
What are the relationships between current performance assessments and teacher education, either conceptually or in terms of outcomes?
What do we know about the use of performance assessments in the context of teacher education, and what do we need to know? How do performance assessments of teachers in schools map onto assessment of teacher education programs, or how don't they?
What differences may exist across novice teachers and expert teachers with respect to performance assessment, and how does that impact their professional learning?
What are the implications of the relationships between for-profit companies, university teacher education programs, researchers, states, and professional organizations with respect to performance assessments of teachers?
What is the relationship between assessment criteria and the research on teaching and learning, and what are its implications for teacher education?
How do states make decisions to move to statewide teacher assessment systems? What potential conflicts of...