Shifting Toward The Student

In the evaluation of a faculty in any school, we look for teacher quality. We look for how long teachers have been at the school, what degrees they hold, where did they get their degrees, are they certified in the domain they are teaching and how well do students respond to what is taught. Recently we give more weight to the student scores as evidence of teacher quality. Certainly we listen to what their principals have to say about their teaching quality but what is missing is a standardized professional evaluation based on the teacher’s abilities or competencies—the connection between what a teacher should know and can do in the classroom, rather than the length of service or the courses she took in graduate school.

Seat Time

There is a parallel reform in teacher quality to the way we judge quality in the learner. And the current practice we are trying to give up is graduating by seat time, rather than by competency. It has always been assumed that if you can graduate with your class or cohort, you will have learned what everyone else learned. Although that is generally true, in practice it leaves vast gaps in knowledge gained and teaching performance demonstrated between and among student teachers. Just as students don’t get the same types of learning outcomes from the same curriculum, neither do teachers, and what’s more we expect that teachers will be ready to assess their student’s learning and know the difference between each student. Luckily there is a group called Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC).

Model State Teacher Policy

Standards are the Policy That Drive the System
INTASC believes that all education policy should be driven by what we want our P-12 students to know and be able to do. Thus, all aspects of a state’s education system should be aligned with and organized to achieve the state’s policy as embodied in its P-12 student standards.  This includes its teacher licensing system.  Teacher licensing standards are the state’s policy for what all teachers must know and be able to do in order to effectively help all students achieve the P-12 student standards.  The teacher licensing standards become the driving force behind how a state’s teacher licensing system (program approval, licensing assessments, professional development) is organized and implemented. Thus, a state’s process for approving teacher preparation programs should be designed to verify that a program is aligned with the teacher licensing standards and provides opportunities for candidates to meet the standards. The state licensing assessments should verify that an individual teacher candidate has the knowledge and skills outlined in the licensing standards. The state’s professional development requirements for re-licensing should document that in-service practicing teachers are receiving professional development that is aligned with and helping them reach the licensing standards.”

Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC)

What INTASC Has Accomplished So Far

Using the above conceptual framework for state teacher policy, INTASC has been working to develop model policy that states can use as a resource as they work to align their own teacher licensing systems.  So far INTASC has accomplished the following:

developed model “core” standards for what all beginning teachers should know, be like, and be able to do in order to practice responsibly, regardless of the subject matter or grade level being taught

translated the core standards into model licensing standards in mathematics, English language arts, science, special education, foreign languages, arts, and are developing standards for elementary education and social studies/civics

initiated development of a new licensing examination, the Test for Teaching Knowledge, which will measure a beginning teacher’s knowledge and skill in the core standards

developed and validated a model performance assessment in the form of a candidate portfolio in math, English/language arts and science that is linked to INTASC’s standards

developed principles for quality teacher preparation programs to guide teacher preparation programs on how to incorporate INTASC’s performance-based standards

hosts an annual professional development academy to help states develop capacity to implement a standards-based licensing system by teaching individuals to score INTASC portfolios, to serve as mentors for beginning teachers, and to reform teacher preparation programs so that they incorporate the model standards

provides ongoing technical assistance to states as they implement standards-based licensing systems

commissioned papers on the legal implications of a standards-based teacher licensing system, and on assessment instruments for teacher licensing.

Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC)

Responding to Students

Almost all graduate programs in teacher education use some form of performance assessment to generate the evidence and a portfolio process to collect the evidence that teachers are becoming student-centered professionals in teaching and learning. INTASC defines this as “teaching is a collegial profession that responds to considerations of subjects and students” (Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC).

Promoting Student Learning

This shift toward an emphasis on the student is a professional licensing approach that mirrors other professions where the ability to know and can do something well is defined through evidence of mastery rather than by seat time. In Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning, the authors examine six teacher preparation programs across the country and document how assessment connects the evidence of a teacher’s ability with the INTASC standards for teaching and how these performance assessments have been found to, “predict a teachers’ effectiveness in promoting student learning” (Darling-Hammond & Oakes, 2019, p. 329).

Evidence of What Students Know and Can Do

These assessments ask teachers to, “document their plans and teaching for a unit of instruction; adapt the lessons for English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and other students requiring particular attention; video tape and analyze the lessons, offering commentary about their teaching decisions’ and collect and evaluate evidence of student learning outlining what should happen to support the learning of different students in the future” (Darling-Hammond & Oakes, 2019, p. 329). The deeper learning of teacher preparation is in parallel with what we want from our students—and what we will only get if we train teachers to shift toward this type of evidence—evidence of what students know and can do.


  • Darling-Hammond, L. & Oaks, J. (2019). Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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