The Current State of Assessment Education: Aligning Policy, Standards, and Teacher Education Curriculum

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Introduction

Student assessment plays a central role within the current accountability and standards-based context of U.S. public education (Ryan & Feller, 2009). Federal policies outlined in No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2002) and more recently the Blueprint for Reform (U.S. Department of Education [USDOE], 2010) have prompted states to increase their use of large-scale standardized assessments as measures of student achievement, teacher effectiveness, and instruments of public policy (Mazzeo, 2001; McMillan, 2008). Specifically, recent policy directives have emphasized classroom teachers' use of assessment data to guide instruction and individualize student programming (e.g., Blueprint for Reform, USDOE, 2010). As identified in both professional standards and current research, teachers are now required to be assessment literate (Council of Chief State School Officers [CCSSO], 2012; Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium [InTASC], 2011; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE], 2008). Assessment literate teachers understand how to construct, administer, and score reliable assessments and communicate valid interpretations about student learning (Popham, 2004, 2011a; Stiggins, 2002, 2005; Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis, & Chappuis, 2012; Volante & Fazio, 2007). Furthermore, assessment literacy involves integrating assessment practices, theories, and philosophies to support teaching and learning within a standards-based framework of education.

In response to the current accountability movement, a plethora of educational policies and standards have emerged at national, state, and local levels to guide teacher practice and promote teacher assessment literacy (e.g., Florida's Student Success Act, Bill 736; Florida Senate, 2011). National standards for preservice program accreditation now require preparatory programs to provide explicit assessment opportunities and courses to teacher candidates (NCATE, 2008; NCATE Blue Ribbon Panel Report, NCATE, 2010). The most recent NCATE standards identified the following criteria as a benchmark for graduates of teacher education programs: Teacher candidates are expected to "focus on student learning and study the effects of their work. They assess and analyze student learning, make appropriate adjustments to instruction, monitor student learning, and have a positive effect on learning for all students" (p. 19). By the end of their preservice program, teacher candidates are expected to have a thorough understanding of assessment principles and integrate assessment information to make data-driven decisions for enhanced teaching and learning. These expectations are further supported by several other policy and standards documents, including the Standards for Teacher Competence in Educational Assessment of Students (STCEAS; American Federation of Teachers [AFT], National Council on Measurement in Education [NCME], and National Educational Association [NEA], 1990), the newly revised Student Evaluation Standards (Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation [JCSEE], 2003; McDivitt, 2011), the Standards' for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, & NCME, 1999), and state-based teacher accreditation standards. In addition, an emphasis on enhanced teacher assessment literacy is evident in NCATE's recent Blue Ribbon Panel Report, Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice (NCATE, 2010), and in the InTASC's Model Core Teaching Standards (InTASC, 2011).

To prepare teachers to meet these assessment literacy standards, teacher education programs utilize a variety of approaches, including explicit, integrated, and blended assessment education (DeLuca & Klinger, 2010). Explicit preservice assessment education involves discrete courses in student assessment, whereas an integrated approach assumes that assessment issues are integrated into broader curriculum and professional studies courses. A blended approach utilizes a combination of both explicit and integrated models as part of preservice assessment education. …