To the Editor:
The Performance Assessment for California Teachers, or PACT, was approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing—not by teachers, nor by the college professors who prepare them (“Performance Test for New Calif. Teachers Approved,” Oct. 17, 2007). I and other faculty members in teacher preparation in the California State University system worked to oppose this bureaucratic imposition of an unfunded mandate.
Trial runs of this particular type of teacher-performance assessment lead many to believe that such assessment in its various forms will not actually improve the quality of teachers, nor contribute to closing achievement gaps. It will cost future teachers a great deal of time and money. Your article claims that studies of PACT pilots have shown positive results, but advocates of PACT have not sought evidence from those of us opposed to it.
The one-sided argument presented is that portfolio assessment is an improvement over the current assessment system. It may well be an improvement for elite universities with small teacher-preparation programs, such as Stanford, a leader in the development of PACT. There, academic professors do not usually supervise student-teachers or interns. In such sites, a portfolio assessment may be better than a written checklist from the field.
But for universities with large programs, the cost in time and money is substantial. For those of us at these lowly-brethren institutions, advocates would need to demonstrate that PACT is a more substantive assessment than professors making six to eight evaluative visits per semester to supervise student-teaching, plus the evaluation of host teachers. This has not been demonstrated.
What we have is another bureaucratic solution imposed on teacher education by persons who do not work closely with teachers in the field.
Duane E. Campbell
Professor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education
California State University-Sacramento
A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 2007 edition of Education Week as Calif. Teacher Assessment Offers No Improvements