From: Education Week
California has given the nod to a rigorous assessment created by teacher colleges that requires aspiring educators to show students are learning before they earn their preliminary licenses. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing this month approved the Performance Assessment for California Teachers , or PACT, developed by a consortium of 30 teacher education programs in the state. Led by Stanford University, the group includes colleges in the University of California and California State University systems, and other private and independent schools. Starting next school year, all teacher-candidates will have to pass a performance assessment before they can get their teaching credentials. A state law passed in 1998 requires such evaluations take place, but a lack of state funding delayed implementation. Teacher programs, which can choose from either PACT or another, state-generated assessment called the California Teacher Performance Assessment, or CA-TPA, have, in many cases, already been piloting one of the two. The colleges that have piloted PACT have helped shape and improve the model over the past four years, said Raymond L. Pecheone, the director of the assessment and the co-director of the School Redesign Network at Stanford. "Some of these universities are very small and some very large, and they all have very different issues. We took all of that into account," he said. P. David Pearson, the director of the state's teacher-credentialing commission and the dean of the graduate school of education at UC-Berkeley, lauded PACT as a grassroots effort by the colleges. "This and the CA-TPA assessment put California in a position of national leadership in teacher assessment," Mr. Pearson said. Connecticut has for several years had a teacher-performance assessment in place that has won critical acclaim. Arkansas and Ohio have also used versions of Praxis 3 to move teachers from an initial license to a continuing one. But because of its size and the number of teachers involved, as well as their diversity, "California has the potential to have a larger national impact," said Carol Smith, the vice president for professional issues and partnerships at the Washington-based American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.