Implementing Portfolios in a Teacher Education Program
Stolle, Cheryl, Goerss, Betty, Watkins, Marilyn, Issues in Teacher Education
The increased focus on the preparation of pre-service teachers for teaching in an ever-changing world impacts how teacher education programs both prepare and assess pre-service teachers (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1996). The most recent impetus for this focus began with a general call for reform of public schools that ultimately demanded high standards and demonstration of performance by both teachers and their students (Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, 1986; Darling-Hammond, 1986; Goodlad, 1990, 1994; Holmes Group, 1986). Teacher education programs had to change from a model of paper and pencil evaluation to one in which the teacher is responsible for demonstrating his or her own knowledge and skills in actual teaching situations (Shulman, 1987). Portfolios provide one means of monitoring, documenting and assessing both the preservice teacher and the teacher education program.
The reality of developing a portfolio process that has meaning to preservice teachers and that incorporates a conceptual framework and related standards is a challenge confronting educators today. Nevertheless, the use of portfolios for assessment coordinates with the new National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education's (NCATE) standards that assess pre-service teacher performance prior to entry into the profession (NCATE, 2000). Furthermore, developing portfolios provides the opportunity for pre-service and in-service teachers to reflect on their own learning and communicate who they are as teachers. "Ultimately, the portfolio as a process demanding at its best constant reflection on teaching and learning holds the promise-however fragile-of forcing a broader reflection on the ways teachers are educated and continue in their professional development" (Lyon, 1998, p. 4).
Finally, the portfolio as a means of teacher assessment aligns with the movement toward more authentic assessment in education. Performance-based assessment involves tasks closely related to those found in the real world, which demonstrate proficiency for a given topic (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998). It is a type of alternative assessment that asks students to demonstrate what they have learned, how they engage in the learning process and how they apply their knowledge demonstrating their preparedness for teaching (Viechnicki, Barbour, Shaklee, Rohrer, & Ambrose, 1993). "What has emerged is assessment that is authentic in nature, offers multiple indicators of student progress, encourages students to take an active role in their learning, affords teachers new roles in the assessment process, and encourages students to demonstrate what they know in ways that encompass their personal learning styles" (McLaughlin & Vogt, 1996, p. 9). As highly individualized expressions of the teacher they represent, portfolios exemplify authentic assessment. They provide a means to describe current understanding of teaching abilities in a way that is not evident in other formats (Campbell, Gignetti, Melenyzer, Nettles, & Wyman, 2001). While portfolios represent only one aspect of documenting teacher effectiveness, they are important tools for assessing preparedness for teaching.
Six years ago, the Division of Education at Indiana University East began the process of developing a performance-based program consistent with our division's conceptual framework, the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) principles, and Indiana state standards. This decision coincided with the state mandate for teacher education programs to be performance-based, a practice that is becoming increasingly widespread across the country. One component of the state mandate is that all teachers must prepare an INTASC-based induction portfolio to receive licensure at the end of a two-year probationary teaching period. INTASC identifies a set often principles that teacher candidates must demonstrate before they are licensed.
Developing, implementing, and assessing the portfolio process has been and continues to be a daunting task. …