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Old 04-11-2010, 08:35 PM
bbcbbc bbcbbc is offline
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Originally Posted by MsDippel View Post
I'm sorry, but if you have to take the Basic Skills Test more than twice, you've got a problem. I can see allowing a second try in case you were sick or something, but it's just not that hard. Take it. Fail it. Organize yourself with what you didn't understand and STUDY.

I wouldn't want a lawyer who had to take the bar 20 times. I understand being flexible because we're all human beings, but we have to set the standard SOMEWHERE.
The problem is not with setting a standard. I am all for setting standards. The problem is that the TPA's are a subjective measure of a teacher candidate's ability. The TPA's are graded by state assessors (i.e., people). From my understanding, people have different points of view, right? One person can view a piece of work as art, while another person can view the same piece of work as trash, right?

The state of California is disqualifying teacher candidates based on a subjective assessment.

If the state of California is going to disqualify teacher candidates based on an assessment, then it should be an objective assessment, not a subjective assessment.
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Old 04-11-2010, 10:08 PM
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FourSquare FourSquare is offline
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7th Grade Special Education
I was referring to the Basic Skills, which is NOT a subjective test.

I don't know anything about the TPA's. Who grades them? One person or a panel? I would think there would have to be multiple inputs on something so career threatening. If 3/4/5+ people failed your friend multiple times, maybe they just didn't cut it. If it was just one person, well, what does that person know?
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Old 04-11-2010, 10:37 PM
bbcbbc bbcbbc is offline
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Grading of TPA's

From my understanding, a teacher candidate's TPA is graded (subjectively) by a state assessor (i.e., one state assessor assesses one candidate's TPA):

First attempt = 1 or 2 (not passing), then pay a fee.
Second attempt = 1 or 2 (not passing), then pay the fee again.
Third attempt = 1 or 2 (not passing), then the teacher candidate is called "out" in California.
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:50 PM
TeacherGroupie TeacherGroupie is offline
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Posts: 26,496
In fact there's more than one TPA, according to materials on the Web site of the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing.

Assessors for the California Teaching Performance Assessment (CalTPA) are current or retired teachers or teacher educators who undergo two days of training - for EACH task they will score - in the task itself, the rubric for scoring, and the scoring process in the tasks. CalTPA was developed by ETS, so I'll venture that each of the four tasks is scored by at least two scorers. The implementation manual, along with a great deal of other material, is on the Web at http://www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/...ion-manual.pdf.

The Fresno Assessment of Student Teachers (FAST) comes with less copious information, but the information flyer suggests a structure and scoring process that's not that different than that for CalTPA: certainly rubrics are used, certainly assessors are trained in using the rubrics in scoring, and certainly each response is scored by more than one assessor.

The Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) at http://www.pacttpa.org/_main/hub.php...for_Candidates explicitly mentions rubrics, and the page at http://www.pacttpa.org/_main/hub.php?pageName=FAQ notes that scorers undergo two days of training per task that they score and that scorers who "fail to calibrate" - that is, their scoring of sample tasks falls either above or below an expected range - will be retrained until they do calibrate, or they will be dismissed; furthermore, responses that don't pass are double-scored.

Whether the task is CalTPA, FAST, or PACT, the upshot of the rubrics, the training, and the double scoring should be to eliminate subjectivity that would work against the candidate while allowing subjectivity that works for the candidate: that is, human beings are better than machines are at reading between the lines.
Education isn't what you know. It's what you can do (and fake, intelligently) with what you know.
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Old 04-12-2010, 12:24 AM
Grover Grover is offline
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TG, these procedures certainly seem to reduce the problem of subjectivity. However, they don't tell us anything about the pertinence of the tests. Imperial China notoriously used an examination system to select it's functionaries, based on something called the Eight-legged Essay. This was a complicated essay on a quotation from one of the Confucian Classics, and had to be executed in a very particular and elaborate style, right down to the calligraphy. Even had these tests been double-scored by rubric, it's doubtful they would have been an effective way to choose competent district judges.
I haven't seen the insides of any of these tests, but I am concerned that they can, in essence, over-ride all other human judgement regarding a teacher's fitness. As you say, humans are better than machines at reading between the lines, but this kind of test reduces the scope of that reading considerably.
While we all want to have some kind of 'standard' for teacher performance, the difficulty lies in devising an effective measure. We've seen a lot of recent comments about performance pay, and 'what makes a great teacher'. Most of these focus on how difficult it is to actually measure this. I don't think "Inspiring students", one of the most popular indicators of great teaching in the posts, can be measured effectively, and certainly not for prospective rather than actual teachers.
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Old 04-12-2010, 02:01 AM
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sunshine*inc sunshine*inc is offline
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3rd Grade Teacher
Originally Posted by HeatherY View Post
Is it a test now? I graduated in 07 from Cal Poly SLO. We used TPA's on our lesson plans. There were like 12 and you had to select one or more and show in the lesson how you were using it. They were like: student engagement, motivational strategies, etc...It wasn't a big deal. It's in a test form now? How does that work? Is it like the RICA where you design instruction in the test?
You probably used TPEs in your lesson plans.
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Old 04-12-2010, 07:24 AM
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heavens54 heavens54 is offline
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Upper Elementary Teacher
Our TPAs were scored by faculty from our teaching program, not by people from the state. They did not know whose tests they were grading when they assigned the scores.

I am not getting the subjective part. Because it isn't T/F or multiple choice? And I understand if you make a 1 or 2, they work with you to bring it up to a passing grade. They explain to you your weaknesses.

I found the tests to not be difficult. They were thorough and inclusive. Again, if you are properly prepared for the assessment by your program, I don't see where the problem is to pass it. You have time, weeks, to do it, as home, using materials if needed, to complete the information.

I know our faculty always told us to be sure to answer the question they as and only the question, not to ramble or go off on a tangent and not answer the specific question. I also know that some of it is redundant. Overall I found them helpful. They put it all together so that I could see the whole picture.
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:26 AM
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KateL KateL is offline
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Posts: 815
High school biology
We already have "objective" tests in the form of CSET, CBEST, and RICA. The value of the TPAs is that they force you to integrate and reflect on what you've learned in the credential program. They measure different things than the standardized tests.

For those of you not from CA, there are 4 TPAs that increase in complexity. I had to complete the first one in the 2nd semester of my credential program, the 2nd one in the 3rd semester, and the last 2 in the 4th semester. The first one involves reading and responding to case studies, but the other 3 require that you teach a lesson or unit, analyze student work, and reflect on the process. I got feedback from my advisor and from other students in the credential program before I submitted each one.

Looking at my classmates' work, it was pretty easy to tell from the rubric who had done enough work to pass and who hadn't. If you can't pass the TPAs after 3 times (and I didn't know anyone who needed more than 2 times), maybe you shouldn't be a teacher. It's a pretty valid assessment of whether a teacher candidate can put together a lesson/unit, teach it, knows how to differentiate, and can reflect on and suggest improvements for the future.
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Old 04-12-2010, 12:54 PM
Sshintaku Sshintaku is offline
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Posts: 449
High School Teacher
The TPA's are a pain, but not difficult. They basically ask you to show your knowledge of theories and good classroom procedure and then link them to real life examples. It could be compared to a master's thesis - just putting together the document of all research and knowledge. It's good language to know and most of it is common sense stuff.

At least in my experience, as KateL said, if you put in the effort, you'll be fine. And I believe the system is such that you can get 2's, but you cannot get more than one 1 on the whole project.
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Old 04-12-2010, 02:23 PM
TeacherGroupie TeacherGroupie is offline
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Posts: 26,496
Subjectivity IS human judgment; to complain both that the test is too subjective AND that it doesn't allow for human judgment is logically incoherent.

In any case, the TPAs are explicitly aligned to California's Teaching Performance Expectations, which are (or should be) taught in credential programs that the CTC accepts; each of CalTPA, PACT, and FAST makes a point of this, and the TPEs are certainly available online.
Education isn't what you know. It's what you can do (and fake, intelligently) with what you know.
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