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Teachers' Assessment Preparation Weak, Advocacy Group Claims

Teachers aren't getting enough formal preparation on how to make use of the reams of assessment data states are generating, contends the National Council on Teacher Quality in a brief released today.

For the brief, NCTQ reviewed coursework from a representative sample of 48 teacher-preparation programs at 29 colleges. (The council plans an expanded report based on 200 programs in a few months.)

It looked to see whether the programs instructed teacher-candidates and provided opportunities to them to practice in each of three main domains:

• Assessment literacy, or understanding the types and purposes of various assessments. Less than half the programs reviewed were deemed "adequate" or "partially adequate" in this area.
• Analytical skills, or the training to break down and analyze assessment data. Just seven programs were partially adequate or better in this area.
• Instructional decisionmaking, or using assessment data to refine instruction, where not a single program was deemed adequate and only six were partially adequate.

The paper also makes recommendations on what could be done to improve this situation. One that stands out is a suggestion that states, foundations, and teacher educators develop mock-up data sets populated with student performance data. These could be used as the basis for exercises to hone teachers' skills with data, the council suggests.

NCTQ is currently engaged in a controversial review of every school of education. This report, like other drips and drabs of that larger project, probably isn't going to be well received by teacher colleges, many of whom have excoriated NCTQ's methods.

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