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Demonstrating Quality Field Experiences: Unit Assessment Systems
Unformatted Document Text:  The development of unit assessment systems is clearly guided by NCATE Standard Two, Assessment System and Unit Evaluation. The standard states that “the unit has an assessment system that collects and analyzes data on applicant qualifications, candidate and graduate performance, and unit operations to evaluate and improve the unit and its programs” (www.ncate.org). In order to be considered as meeting the standard at a high level, the unit must provide consistent, systematic, and comprehensive data on program quality, unit operations, and candidate performance, throughout the program as well as into the first years of practice. NCATE Standard Three, Field Experiences and Clinical Practice, dictates that the unit and its school partners design, implement, and evaluate field experiences and clinical practices. The expectation is that all field experiences are well-documented, designed and sequenced to ensure candidates develop the necessary competence. A comprehensive unit assessment system should not only document and sequence field experiences, providing for variety and diversity in placement, but also assess candidate performance in both university work and clinical practice. In fact, all of the NCATE standards relate to the unit assessment system. This paper focuses on the implementation of the assessment system, specifically related to field-based experiences. We live in the age of accountability and even k12 schools are focusing more closely on the tracking of student data. The May 23 issue of AACTE Briefs (Volume 26, Number 7), clearly mentions this issue as related to “the data-reporting requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).” The leading article mentions a redirect of technology spending with a clear focus on the development of systems to track student data. This is exactly what Colleges of Education have been working on during the last couple of years. In order to meet new NCATE standards, this kind of system is mandatory. The documentation and assessment of clinical practice is one part of the big picture. The May/June issue of Journal of Teacher Education (Volume 56, Number 3) takes a look at the politics of teacher education. Zimpher and Howey (p. 266-271) reiterate the fact that according to NCTAF, “recruiting, preparing, and retaining good teachers should be the central strategy for improving schools” (p.266). The authors go on to note that “the need for greatly increased and improved clinical preparation in preservice programs and the necessary extension of this preparation into the critical and formative 1 st years of teacher calls for the expanded engagement of the practicing school professionals” (p. 267). This supports the notion that assessment systems, which include the documentation of placement and assessment of performance in the field, are key to preparation of quality teachers. These systems begin with candidates in college but continue through the induction years and further involve master and mentor teachers along the way during various assessment measures at key transition points. This kind of comprehensive assessment plan follows what Zimpher and Howey later point out is a well-documented notion “that teacher professional development at its best is embedded in the day-to-day work of teachers and their classrooms, a mode that

Authors: Ruebel, Kim. and Basin, Bhupi.
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The development of unit assessment systems is clearly guided by NCATE
Standard Two, Assessment System and Unit Evaluation. The standard states that
“the unit has an assessment system that collects and analyzes data on applicant
qualifications, candidate and graduate performance, and unit operations to
evaluate and improve the unit and its programs” (www.ncate.org). In order to be
considered as meeting the standard at a high level, the unit must provide
consistent, systematic, and comprehensive data on program quality, unit
operations, and candidate performance, throughout the program as well as into the
first years of practice.
NCATE Standard Three, Field Experiences and Clinical Practice, dictates that
the unit and its school partners design, implement, and evaluate field experiences
and clinical practices. The expectation is that all field experiences are well-
documented, designed and sequenced to ensure candidates develop the necessary
competence. A comprehensive unit assessment system should not only document
and sequence field experiences, providing for variety and diversity in placement,
but also assess candidate performance in both university work and clinical
practice.
In fact, all of the NCATE standards relate to the unit assessment system. This
paper focuses on the implementation of the assessment system, specifically
related to field-based experiences. We live in the age of accountability and even
k12 schools are focusing more closely on the tracking of student data. The May
23 issue of AACTE Briefs (Volume 26, Number 7), clearly mentions this issue as
related to “the data-reporting requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of
2001 (NCLB).” The leading article mentions a redirect of technology spending
with a clear focus on the development of systems to track student data. This is
exactly what Colleges of Education have been working on during the last couple
of years. In order to meet new NCATE standards, this kind of system is
mandatory. The documentation and assessment of clinical practice is one part of
the big picture.
The May/June issue of Journal of Teacher Education (Volume 56, Number 3)
takes a look at the politics of teacher education. Zimpher and Howey (p. 266-271)
reiterate the fact that according to NCTAF, “recruiting, preparing, and retaining
good teachers should be the central strategy for improving schools” (p.266). The
authors go on to note that “the need for greatly increased and improved clinical
preparation in preservice programs and the necessary extension of this preparation
into the critical and formative 1
st
years of teacher calls for the expanded
engagement of the practicing school professionals” (p. 267). This supports the
notion that assessment systems, which include the documentation of placement
and assessment of performance in the field, are key to preparation of quality
teachers. These systems begin with candidates in college but continue through the
induction years and further involve master and mentor teachers along the way
during various assessment measures at key transition points. This kind of
comprehensive assessment plan follows what Zimpher and Howey later point out
is a well-documented notion “that teacher professional development at its best is
embedded in the day-to-day work of teachers and their classrooms, a mode that


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