Chair's Advisory Board

Chair's Advisory Board Fall 2010 Meeting: Assessing Teacher Qualitiy

On October 14, members of the Chair's Advisory Board met in the Department of Education to explore the Fall 2010 meeting theme: Assessing Teacher Quality. The session included the following three presentations that addressed research, education, and practice, followed by member discussion.

"Using Video to Develop Teachers' Professional Vision of Ambitious Teaching"

Elizabeth van Es

The presentation by Assistant Professor Elizabeth van Es included the following major points:

Teachers’ professional vision, i.e., the ability to perceive meaningful structure in one’s practice [knowing what to attend to and how to interpret what is observed] is not in line with the current vision of mathematics teaching and learning.

Teachers need to “learn to notice” ambitious instruction. Ambitious instruction requires that teachers slow down instruction and listen carefully to student thinking and use student ideas to inform teaching moves. By viewing video segments from each other’s classrooms on a regular basis, teachers can focus on student errors, strategies, misconceptions, and explanations.

Video club research has shown that while teachers initially comment on student behavior and overall classroom climate, over time they increase their focus on student thinking and engage in deep analysis and interpretation of student ideas.

Observed impacts of video club participation on teacher practice include publicly recognizing student ideas, extending opportunities for student thinking, eliciting multiple methods and solutions, and asking for and probing explanations.


"Assessing Teachers with Value-Added Models (VAMs)"

Erik Ruzek

Fourth year Ph.D. student Erik Ruzek presented his doctoral research on Value-Added Models. Major points included the following:

The LA Times’ slate of articles on measuring teacher effectiveness brought to the fore a debate that has been ongoing since the inception of accountability reform.

VAMs focus on changes over time in achievement by asking the following questions:

  1. How did the contribution of school or teacher “X” to student achievement gains compare with that of the average teacher?
  2. How different are teachers across a school or district in terms of their students’ achievement gains?

Across studies, VAMs show that teachers matter more for student achievement growth than schools. The achievement gain associated with having an above average teacher is 1/5 standard deviation increase in student achievement.

There are both technical and conceptual problems with current VAMs. Technically the models are complex, with continuing methodological debates about how best to estimate. Conceptually, the models are affected by non-random assignment of students to teachers, by not addressing the question of how teachers influence student achievement, and by focusing only on the student achievement outcome.

Erik's doctoral research examines teacher impacts on student motivation to learn and achieve. His work focuses on achievement goals, which fall along mastery (achieving competence and understanding the task at hand) and performance (an emphasis on social comparison, often manifested through surface learning strategies) dimensions.

Using the VAM insight, which has demonstrated how much difference there is among teacher impacts on student achievement change, Erik looked at the range of teacher impact on student motivation change, finding that having an above average teacher was associated with about a 1/4 standard deviation increase in mastery orientation.  In running correlations between a teacher’s value added to student motivation and their value added to student achievement for seven different courses by three different motivation types, Erik found only two out of the 21 correlations were significant.

For student motivation to be seen as an important aspect of teacher influence on students, in other words, as something we should care about to a similar degree as we care about teacher influence on student achievement, then we need to establish that teacher influence on student motivation matters for educational outcomes that we care about, e.g. high school exit examinations, taking advanced courses, high school graduation, and college enrollment.


"Performance Assessment for California Teachers: Assessing Teacher Performance at the Pre-Service Level"

Judi Conroy

Director of Teacher Education and Student Affairs Dr. Judi Conroy presented an overview of the assessments in place for teacher candidates as they progress through the UCI Teacher Credential Program. Major points included the following:

When the California legislature established the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) in 2001, universities were given the option to create their own assessment. A consortium of universities, including UC Irvine, developed the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) and administered it for the first time in 2003.

The PACT is subject specific, which means that it embodies what is thought to be best practice at the discipline level. Teacher candidates complete PACT two-thirds of the way through their credential program. Teachers candidates must pass the PACT for a license; 95-97% of the candidates pass on the first attempt.

The PACT portfolio includes the following:

  • Description of the Context for Learning (not scored)
  • Description of the Planning Process for 3-5 days of instruction
  • A 10-20 minute video clip of the instruction
  • Assessment of student learning, feedback to students, and analysis of next steps
  • Reflection during, between, and after the lesson
  • Supporting students in the acquisition of academic language

Central to the PACT is active student participation in their learning, engagement in rigorous tasks, and high expectations for all students. Positive outcomes associated with PACT include rich discussion among teacher candidates, reinforcement of effective teaching,  program improvement, and uniformity across teacher preparation programs.


Following the formal presentations, members shared perspectives and discussed experiences.

The next Chair's Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for Spring 2011 at UC Irvine.