Faculty in the School of Education believe assessment should be multidimensional, developmental, outcomes-oriented, and should guide program improvement.
In 2003, the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) identified nine principles for assessing student learning. Faculty in the UAB School of Education has incorporated each of these principles into a comprehensive model for assessing professional education candidate achievement. However, four of the principles serve as the primary foundation for assessing professional education candidate achievement. First, faculty have implemented a multidimensional, integrated assessment model that systematically collects data about professional education candidate learning using both quantitative and qualitative measures. Additionally, this model recognizes that educators must use multiple means of assessment across settings, persons, and time to assess professional education candidates’ knowledge, skills and dispositions (Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, 2002; Holyer, 2003; Maki, 2002a; Suskie, 2000).
Explicitly-stated outcomes based upon professional standards are considered to be a hallmark of quality teacher education programs (Darling-Hammond, 2003; Holyer, 1998; Maki, 2002a). Consequently, the second major principle embedded within the UAB School of Education Assessment Model is an assessment program that is standards-driven. Infused throughout a professional education candidate’s undergraduate and graduate programs are standards established by well-respected professional organizations including the Alabama State Department of Education (1997), the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (2002), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (1999), and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (2002).
Faculty in the School of Education also subscribe to the belief that assessment must be ongoing to reflect the development of professional education candidates. Developmental measures, both formative and summative, are incorporated into the UAB School of Education Assessment Model. This model addresses the continuum of teacher development set forth by the New Teacher Center (2002) recognizes that preparation of high-quality teachers is a developmental process that evolves over the course of a teacher’s career. Developmental assessment measures include authentic, learner-specific documents that allow professional education candidates to provide evidence of their growth and development across professional standards (Anderson, DuMez, & Peter, 1998; Maki, 2002a). Developmental measures also allow professional education candidates the opportunity to reflect upon their own professional growth as professionals. Consequently, these measures are reflective of an assessment-as-learning conceptual approach (Alverno College, 1994). Embedded within the developmental assessment process are important theories about teaching and learning such as Vygotsky’s (1978) theory of socially-mediated dialogical learning and scaffolded instruction, as well as the constructivist learner-centered, active participant approach (Anderson, 1997; Bradley, 1997; Cooper, 1997). Developmental measures also honor the importance of teachers as reflective practitioners (Schon, 2002; Martin, 1999), foster collegiality and mentoring relative to best practices (Weiss & Weiss, 1999), and recognize that reflecting upon one’s teaching and learning is both a linear and recursive process (Regan, Case, Case, & Friedberg, 1993).Finally, faculty in the UAB School of Education is committed to utilizing assessment results to improve programs. Transformative assessment (Angelo, 1999) occurs when institutions use assessment results to revise and improve programs. Transformative assessment involves “making decisions based on interpretation of assessment results so that institutions act on and support interpretations to improve student learning” (Maki, 2002b, p. 5). Once program changes have been made, the assessment cycle begins anew. Transformative assessment necessitates that evaluation of students’ learning be viewed by faculty as a scholarly endeavor (National Academy Press, 1999, 2001). Consequently, UAB School of Education faculty is committed to a systematic study of assessment results to guide program improvement. Faculty recognize that assessing professional education candidates’ learning is a collective responsibility and commitment (Maki, 2002a), and that systemic change must be undertaken for program renewal and transformation to occur.