Unit Assessment System

For more than five years the Unit has been developing and refining components of its Assessment System. From the outset the Unit was guided by CSDE and INTASC Standards which called for outcomes based assessment of Candidates in terms of what they should know and be able to do upon completion of their program of study. As the Unit focused more closely upon the development of its Conceptual Framework, the Unit standards became defined in the form of five Domains related to Professional Excellence that include: Context, Content, Learner, Pedagogy, and Educator.  By carefully aligning each of these Domains and their related Proficiencies with the requisite state, national, and professional standards the Unit’s Assessment System directly linked into the Conceptual Framework and reinforced the coherence of the Unit’s programs. Thus, Candidates’ knowledge, skills and dispositions are assessed in accordance with institutional, state, national, and professional society (SPA) standards.

The Unit assessments are both formative and summative, and include multiple assessments that assess Candidate performance in a variety of ways at multiple points throughout their program. Ongoing development, implementation and analysis of the assessment system itself and of data collected by the system is continually used to improve and refine Unit programs. The faculty established rubrics for each course to benchmark performance according to expectations rather than in comparison to other Candidates. In its Teacher Preparation and Initial Certification Program, the Unit increased the number and variety of field experiences Candidates must undertake prior to entering into student teaching, and the faculty have stressed with Candidates and their cooperating/supervising teachers during student teaching of the need to pay particular attention to assessing the Candidate’s content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and their ability to assess student learning during their student teaching experience. These assessments are reported through the Unit’s Clinical Assessment System by the cooperating teacher and the university supervisor, and Candidates are encouraged to engage in self-assessment and to reflect on their practices.

The Unit uses portions of its twice-a-month faculty meetings to discuss and get feedback on its Assessment System. Each teacher preparation course has been assigned a Course Coordinator from among the fulltime faculty who is responsible for getting feedback from adjunct faculty assigned to teach that course about course rubrics, assessment practices, concerns about particular Candidates, and any other information that will help continuously improve the Assessment System. The Course Coordinator has also been charged with developing Competency Assessment Rubrics (CAR) for each course they coordinate. These rubrics are used by all fulltime and adjunct faculty members teaching that course to assess each Candidate’s mastery of the content of the course. The rubrics are directly tied to the Domains and Proficiencies thus insuring that all teacher preparation Candidates have been assessed as to their level of mastery of each and all Proficiencies. A list of the Course Coordinators and the courses they are responsible for can be found in the Exhibit Room.

As the Unit developed its Assessment System the faculty implemented processes for data collection, analysis and reporting. The faculty uses two electronic tracking systems to maintain data, one within the University, and one unique to, and customized for, the School of Education. The University’s system, known as DATATEL, tracks candidate personal information, admission status, courses taken, GPA scores, etc. and is maintained by the Registrar’s Office. The Unit’s system, known as “e-STAR”, was designed and is maintained by an external company (ClientSolv) that specializes in online assessment systems. The e-STAR system accesses DATATEL information, and also tracks the Candidate’s outcomes based performance against course specific rubrics. Additionally, e-STAR tracks assessments of Candidate progress at the various data collection points established by the Unit, and also allows the Unit to identify areas of strength and weakness in its programs, thereby enabling faculty to make improvements to Unit programs on an ongoing basis.

The Unit’s Assessment System is designed to meet the Standards of NCATE and CSDE. It was developed through a shared vision among the members of the Assessment Task Force, the Conceptual Framework Committee, and the Unit’s faculty with input from active K-12 teachers and administrators. Based on these requirements and deliberations, the Unit identified the following six goals for the Assessment System:

1. Assessing Proficiencies in the Five Domains
The Assessment System provides for assessment of Proficiencies related to a candidate's familiarity with the educational Context, knowledge of Content, knowledge and skills related to the Learner, skills related to Pedagogy, and dispositions of an Educator.

2. Formative and Summative Assessments
The Assessment System provides, at appropriate moments, formative evaluation which provides a measure of Candidate progress in mastering the Proficiencies. Such evaluations can be used to provide feedback to Candidates on their progress. The Assessment System also provides for summative evaluations which are used to determine Candidate status in moving from one part of the program to another. This regularly occurs in the classroom, through field experience, and as the Candidate progresses through the first three gateways.

3. Multiple Sources of Data
The Assessment System uses varying types of data and multiple data collection instruments in its assessments. Standardized tests such as Praxis I and II, ACTFL, and CAT as well as GPA, course grades, checklists, course assignments and projects, questionnaires, and observation are some of the major sources of data on student progress. The Domain Assessment Charts for each of the Unit’s three programs delineates the data sources used by each program at the four common gateways which are articulated below. The Domain Assessment Charts can be found in Appendix B of this report.

4. Collecting, Tabulating, Recording and Reporting Data
The Assessment System outlines the procedures that govern the collection of data, the means by which data is tabulated and recorded, and procedures for reporting data to the School of Education. As noted above, the Unit has implemented a customized, computer based data collection system to aid in this effort.

5. Decision-Making
The Assessment System provides data that is utilized by the Unit to make decisions about its programs. Time frames for presenting data, individual and committee responsibilities for assessment, and procedures for implementing recommendations based on data analysis, etc, have been outlined.

6. Various Assessment Points
The Assessment System provides for assessment at four points or gateways in the development of the Candidate. These gateway assessment points are:

A. Upon application to the Unit’s programs
B. Immediately prior to student teaching or professional clinical experience
C. Upon completing the program
D. Post program completion.

The Unit’s assessment system is discussed in greater detail in response to Standards 1 and 2 in the Institutional report.

>> Assessment System Overview