In 1987, Educational Testing Service (ETS) began a large scale project to provide a framework for state and local agencies to use for making teacher licensing decisions. The resulting program is called The Praxis Series: Professional Assessments for Beginning Teachers®. Many states use Praxis I: Pre-Professional Skills Assessments and Praxis II: Subject Assessments to grant an initial teaching license. Praxis III: Classroom Performance Assessments is for use in assessing actual teaching skills and classroom performance.
I worked with ETS to help prepare and validate the criteria for Praxis III. The criteria were based on formal analyses of important tasks required of beginning teachers; reviews of research; analyses of state regulations for teacher licensing; and extensive field work that included pilot testing the criteria and assessment process (Dwyer and Villegas, 1993; Dwyer, 1994; Rosenfeld, Freeberg, & Bukatko, 1992; Rosenfeld, Reynolds, & Bukatko, 1992; Rosenfeld, Wilder, & Bukatko, 1992).
My particular responsibility in the development of Praxis III was to design the training program for assessors. Because the Praxis system is used to license beginning teachers, assessors for Praxis III must be able to make professionally and legally defensible judgments. Indeed, throughout the pilot and field testing of both the instrument and the training program, the rates of interrater agreement were high.
As valuable as Praxis III is for states in the licensing of qualified teachers, I came to see its usefulness as extending far beyond that limited role. In training