To the Editor:
Having served in the leadership of the design team for the Performance Assessment for California Teachers throughout its five years of development, I want to correct some misperceptions that might have been left by Duane E. Campbell’s Oct. 31, 2007, letter to the editor about PACT.
Faculty members at each of California’s credential-recommending institutions deliberated and then voted to adopt a performance assessment approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. During the development period, many universities reported that information from PACT was important in supporting more continuity among supervisor evaluations of students’ teaching performance, and in providing evidence for curriculum and structural changes in their credentialing programs. In fact, faculty members working with the PACT development team at California State University-Sacramento—where Mr. Campbell is a professor—reported that PACT and other assessment results prompted changes in course content that better addressed the development of K-12 students’ academic language.
The cost of implementing this requirement was not addressed in the legislation and remains to be resolved, one would hope through further legislation. But the viability of PACT as a performance-assessment instrument should be judged on its merits, and not on whether the legislature imposes an unfunded mandate.
Research on the use of PACT with preservice teacher-candidates, published in the Journal of Teacher Education and The Clearing House, suggests that PACT is a positive learning experience for both teacher-candidates and faculty. Additional studies have reported several positive outcomes for student performance and faculty development involving PACT implementation.
Moreover, research forthcoming in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis on assessment using Connecticut’s Beginning Educator Support and Training, or BEST, Program, with constructs similar to those used in PACT, found a significant relationship between candidate performance on the assessment and student achievement.
Department of Education Studies
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the November 28, 2007 edition of Education Week as Calif. Teacher Assessment: Clarifying ‘Misperceptions’