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Assessing Teacher Competency

Assessing Teacher Competency
Five Standards-Based Steps to Valid Measurement Using the CAATS Model

Foreword by Richard C. Kunkel

April 2007 | 408 pages | Corwin
"I have not seen anything quite as systematic as this material in guiding the reader through a process for developing a valid and reliable assessment plan. Covers all the areas one would want in designing a system for accreditation or for other purposes."
—Martha Gage, Director, Teacher Education & Licensure
Kansas State Department of Education

"Realistically reveals the extent of the task of teacher certification and provides us with a structured learning experience that should improve our abilities with this task."
—Pearl Solomon, Associate Professor
St. Thomas Aquinas College

A complete, step-by-step guide to teacher assessments that meet national accreditation and accountability standards.

Written in a reader-friendly style for busy faculty members and school administrators with little or no prior knowledge of statistics, this comprehensive model is designed to create fair, valid, and reliable assessments of teacher knowledge and skills.

Evaluation experts Judy Wilkerson and Steve Lang provide detailed guidance for the complete five-step assessment process, making this an ideal resource both for preservice and inservice settings, including accreditation reviews and teacher induction programs. Offering worksheets and activities to illustrate every step of the process, this all-inclusive handbook covers:

  • Definitions, contextual factors, and sampling
  • Aligning performance tasks with standards defined by NCLB, NCATE, INTASC, and other groups
  • Designing and implementing data tracking and management systems
  • Ensuring psychometric integrity

Valid and reliable decisions about teacher competency are based on fair, valid, and reliable assessment systems. Assessing Teacher Competency is the book all teacher educators, supervisors, and mentors have been waiting for.

A Step-by-Step Guide to the CAATS Model
Foreword by Richard Kunkel
About the Authors
1. Expectations and Options for Accountability and Teacher Assessment
What This Chapter Is About

The Challenge from the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future

Title II of the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1998

No Child Left Behind Legislation

National Research Council (2001) -- the Committee on Assessment and Teacher Quality

What A Few Others Have Said: A Brief Review of the Literature on Testing and Licensure

Standards: The Roadmap to Accountability and Scientifically-Based Performance Assessment

The Principal Sets of Standards Governing Our Work

National and State Pedagogical and Content Standards

Unit Accreditation and Operational Standards

Technical Standards for Measurement of Teacher Competency

Some Major Threats to Validity in Most Current Assessment Systems

Conceptual Frameworks: Pulling It All Together

NCATE Standards


INTASC Principles: Where NCATE and AERA, APA, & NCME Standards Converge

Making Sense of Conceptual Frameworks

Our Conceptual Framework: What We Value

Assessment Options

Records of Training Completed

Tests and Exam Scores

Observations of Performance

Portfolios of Assessable Artifacts

Job-Related Tasks and Work Sample Products

K-12 Student Work Samples


Activity #1: What’s Happening in Your State and School?

Activity #2: Questionnaire for Faculty Views on Competency Assessment

Activity #3: Assessment Belief Scale

Activity #4: Assessment Options

2. Portfolios – To Be or Not To Be?? That IS the Question!
What This Chapter Is About

The Portfolio: Panacea or Pandora’s Box

Portfolios as Certification “Tests”: Lessons from Standards and History

Assessment Illiteracy, Paradigms Shifts, and Conflicting Purposes

The Conflict of Formative vs. Summative Evaluation

The Conflict of Program Approval vs. Accreditation

The Conflict of Business or Legislative Personal/Professional Perspectives vs. Accountability Through Title II Requirements

The Conflict of Academic Freedom vs. Accountability

The Conflict of Constructivism vs. Positivism

Recommendations for Use of Portfolios in Accountability Contexts

Ten Recommendations for Assessment System Design

A Recommended, Standards-Based Model

Overview of “Competency Assessment Aligned with Teacher Standards” (CAATS) Model

CAATS Step 1: Define content, purpose, use, and other contextual

CAATS Step 2: Develop a valid sampling plan

CAATS Step 3: Create or update tasks aligned with standards and

CAATS Step 4: Design and implement data aggregation tracking and management systems

CAATS Step 5: Ensure credibility and utility of data


A Note about Chapters 8 and 9


Activity #1: Review Your Feelings

Activity #2: Thinking about Conflicting Paradigms

Activity #3: Getting Your Action Plan Started

3. CAATS Step 1: Assessment Design Inputs
Where We Have Been So Far

What This Chapter Is About

CAATS Step 1A: Define the Purposes and Uses of the System

The Importance of Purpose and Use

Different Strokes for Different Folks for Different Purposes

Purpose and Use in the Accountability Context

More on Accountability Based Systems: State Program Approval

CAATS Step 1B: Define the Propositions or Principles that Guide the System

CAATS Step 1C: Define the Conceptual Framework or Contents of the System

So What Is Assessment Content?

Standards as the Link between Purpose, Use, and Content

CAATS Step 1D: Review Local Factors That Impact the System

Wrap Up


Worksheet #1: Purpose, Use, Propositions, Content, & Context Checksheet

Worksheet #2: Purpose, Use, Content, Draft

Worksheet #3: Propositions

Worksheet #4: Contextual Analysis

4. CAATS Step 2: Planning with a Continuing Eye on Valid Assessment Decisions
Where We Have Been So Far

What This Chapter Is About

CAATS Step 2A: Organize Standards into Content Domains

All Those Standards Sets

Organizing for Alignment

“A Rose Is a Rose” Or More of the Same

Why Bother?

Crosswalks and Standards

CAATS Step 2B: Visualize the Competent Teacher Based on the Standards

CAATS Step 2C: Brainstorm a Set of Summative Tasks (Sampling Plan)

CAATS Step 2D: Sort Tasks into Formative and Summative Assessments

CAATS Step 2E: Build Assessment Frameworks

Framework Options

A Special Case: Aligning Tasks with NCATE Requirements



Worksheet #1: Organizing for Alignment (Version 1)

Worksheet #1: Organizing for Alignment (Version 2)

Worksheet #2: Our Critical Skills

Worksheet #3: Visualizing the Competent Teacher

Worksheet #4: Critical Task List

Worksheet #5: Sorting Formative and Summative Tasks

Worksheet #6: List of Summative Assessments by Competency Type

Worksheet #7: List of Summative Assessments by Levels of Inference

Worksheet #8: List of Summative Assessments by Points in Time

Worksheet #9: Matrix of Standard by Competency Type

Worksheet #10: Matrix of Critical Tasks by Competency Type and Benchmark

Worksheet #11: Aligning Tasks with NCATE Thematic Portfolios

5. CAATS Step 3 -- Writing Tasks Designed to Maximize Validity and Reliability
Where We Have Been So Far

What This Chapter Is About

CAATS Step 3A: Determine the Task Format for Data Aggregation

What Happens When There Is No Format?

Can I Use Percents and Total Points? No, They Don’t Cut It!

Elements of a Common Task Format

CAATS Step 3B: Create New Tasks or Modify Existing Tasks

Basic Concepts about Tasks

Hints and Advice about Writing Tasks

Rubric Examples: A Rose is a Rose

CAATS Step 3C: Conduct First Validity Study

CAATS Step 3D: Align Tasks with Instruction



Worksheet #1: Proficiency Level Descriptions

Worksheet #2: Task Design

Worksheet #3: Standards and Indicators Coverage Report

Worksheet #4: Individual Task Review for Job-Relatedness

Worksheet #5: Checklist for Reviewing Individual Tasks

Worksheet #6: Instructional Alignment

6. CAATS Step 4: Decision-Making and Data Management
Where We Have Been So Far

What This Chapter Is About

CAATS Step 4A: Determine How Data Will Be Aggregated

So What Is Data Aggregation?

The Relationship of Data Aggregation (Step 4A), Cut Scores, (Step 4B), and

An Approach to Decision-Making without Using Points and Percents

CAATS Step 4B: Set Standards for Minimal Competency

Different Strokes for Different Folks – Déjà Vu or Purpose Revisited

Is 100% Really Reasonable?

Criticality Yardstick Approach (CYA) to Cut Score Setting in Complex

Performance Assessments

First Cut

Second Cut

Working with Judges

An Example of What to Say to the Judges

CAATS Step 4C: Select and Develop a Tracking System

Sharing Information for Decision-Making: The Big Challenge

Data Storage Option #1: Course Grades or Records of Participation/Attendance

Data Storage Option #2: Teacher Folders

Data Storage Option #3: Portfolios

Data Storage Option #4: Electronic Data Management System

Reporting Aggregated Data

CAATS Step 4D: Develop Management System

Advising and Due Process

Scoring Procedures




Worksheet #1: Cut Score Decisions

Worksheet #2: Sample Format for Candidate/Teacher Tracking Form

Worksheet #3: Format for Data Aggregation

Worksheet #4: Management Plan

Worksheet #5: Rater Monitoring Record

7. CAATS Step 5: Credible Data
Where We Have Been So Far

What This Chapter Is About

What Is Psychometric Integrity and Why Do We Have to Worry About It?

CAATS Step 5A: Create a Plan to Provide Evidence of Validity, Reliability, Fairness, and Utility

Elements of a Plan

Element #1: Purpose and Use

Element #2: Construct Measured

Element #3: Interpretation and Reporting of Scores

Element #4: Assessment Specifications and Content Map

Element #5: Assessor/Rater Selection and Training Procedures

Element #6: Analysis Methodology

Element #7: External Review Personnel and Methodology

Element #8: Evidence of Validity, Reliability, and Fairness (VRF)

CAATS Step 5B: Implement the Plan Conscientiously

Wrap Up

Worksheets and Examples

Worksheet #1: Assessment Specifications

Worksheet #2: Analysis of Appropriateness of Decisions for Teacher Failures

Worksheet #3: Program Improvement Record

Worksheet #4: Expert Rescoring

Worksheet #5: Fairness Review

Worksheet #6: Analysis of Remediation Efforts and EO Impact

Worksheet #7: Psychometric Plan Format

Example #1 (Empirical Data): Logistic Ruler for Content Validity

Example #2 (Empirical Data): Computation of the Lawshe (1975) Content

Example #3 (Empirical Data): Disparate Impact Analysis

Example #4 (Empirical Data): Computation of Cohen’s Kappa (1960) for

Example #5 (Empirical Data): Spearman Correlation Coefficient and Scatterplot:

Example #6 (Empirical Data): Pearson Correlation Coefficient and Scatterplot:

Example #7 (Empirical Data): Correlation Matrix and Scatterplots Knowledge,

Example #8 (Empirical Data): T-Test Comparing Mathematics and Science

Example #9 (Empirical Data): Differential Item and Person Functioning

8. The Trouble with Tribbles: Standard Setting for Professional Certification
What This Chapter Is About

An Overview of Cut Score Setting

From Norm-Referenced Objective Tests to Criterion-Referenced Subjective Tasks

Controlling Human Judgment

Difficulty vs. Importance

Social Consequences

Tidbits to Remember

Cut Scores Setting in Traditional, Objective Tests

Holistic Impressions: Method One

Item Content: Method Two

Performance of Examinees: Method Three

Combination Approach: Method Four

Standard or Cut Score Setting in Performance Tests for Professionals: Is it the Same as Multiple Choice?

Quotes to Remember

The Extended Angoff Procedure for Performance Assessment

The Judgmental Policy Capturing Approach for Performance Assessment

The Dominant Profile Judgment for Performance Assessment

Standard Setting Using Item Response Theory

What’s Really Wrong with Current Approaches to Cut Score Setting

Berk’s Suggestions and Commentaries Over the Years

The Criticality Yardstick Approach

Wrap Up


Activity #1: Change the Difficulty of an Item

Activity #2: Change the Criticality of a Task

Activity #3: Replicate a Cut Score

Activity #4: Take Your Choice

9. Using Teacher Scores for Continuous Improvement
What This Chapter is About

Reasons Why We Use the Rasch Model

The Classical Approach

A Quick Overview of Where Rasch Fits Into the Grand Scheme of IRT Models

Rasch: The Basics

Getting Started

Differences that Item Writers Make

Guttman Scaling

A Sample Rasch Ruler

From Pictures to Numbers

The Fit Statistic

Gain Scores – Real or Imagined?

Ratings and Raters

Learning More about Rasch

Wrap Up


Activity #1: Decision Making Tool for Measurement

10. Legal Integrity
What IF?? A Legal Scenario

Psychometric Issues and Legal Challenges

Legal Issues and Precedents

End Note

Appendix: Tasks Developed for Florida Alternative Certification Program

"Provides possible solutions for the problems faced in the assessment of future teachers, and realistically reveals the extent of the task of teacher certification. It provides those responsible for teacher certification with a structured learning experience that should improve our abilities with this task."

Pearl Solomon, Associate Professor
St. Thomas Aquinas College

"I have not seen anything quite as systematic as this material, which guides a reader through a process for developing a valid and reliable assessment plan.  It covers all the areas that one would want to see covered in designing a system for accreditation or other purposes."

Martha Gage, Director
Teacher Education & Licensure, Kansas State Dept. of Education

"Structurally accurate, complete, and readable. The activities at the end of each chapter are among the best I have ever seen."

Elaine L. Wilmore, Professor of Educational Leadership
Dallas Baptist University

"Wilkerson and Lang provide readers a solid foundation and strong design to help them think through the use of data collected on teacher preparation program graduates that impact the national mosaic.", June 2007

"The authors show how to track teacher performance in a way that ensures credibility through the use of collected data and scoring methodologies for differentiating between effective and ineffective instructors."

The School Administrator, December 2007
American Association of School Administrators
Key features
  • A comprehensive guide to designing and implementing accurate, reliable, and useful teacher assessments
  • Assessments are aligned with the standards and benchmarks defined by NCLB, NCATE, INTASC, and other key programs and groups in education
  • Provides background, context, guidelines for designing and implementing data tracking and management systems, and ensuring psychometric integrity 
  • Includes worksheets and activities to illustrate every step of the process
  • includes a Glossary, Index, and a Step-by-Step Guide to the CAATS Model 
  • Appropriate both for pre-service and in-service faculty, administrative staff, and supervisors


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