2a. Assessment System
2a.1. Describe the process used to design an assessment system that will collect information on candidate proficiencies outlined in the unit’s conceptual framework, state standards, and professional standards. Who was involved in developing the assessment system and how?
The assessment system was designed by a leadership team consisting of the Division Chair of Education, the university’s Director of Institutional Assessment, the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Coordinator of Field Experiences and Assessment for the Education Division. This team drafted the overarching structure of the system to ensure alignment with the GaPSC Standards and the Thomas University Conceptual Framework. The structure was then manifested in admission and transition standards, assessment instruments, aligned learning outcomes, and organizational groups charged with specific activities for collection and analysis of evidence of learning, aggregated and disaggregated data. All of the faculty of the Division of Education, including instrumental adjunct faculty, participated in the creation of the above through regular meetings, individual work assignments, and working retreats to refine instruments and align outcomes. Members of the Arts and Sciences faculty were also included in the process, also meeting with Education Division faculty and the leadership team to understand the Standards, align and revise content syllabi. Regional PK-12 teachers who serve as clinical supervisors, along with regional PK-12 school administrators, met with Education Division faculty to give feedback and participate in norming exercises to ensure interrater reliability. TU administration ensured commitment to the resources required in terms of personnel and technology to enable the full functioning of the system.
2a.2. Unit Assessment System: Transition Point Assessments
Displayed in Table 4 are current Unit-level evaluation measures at five transition points (all programs use the same instruments).
Transition Point #1: Admission into Program
Teacher candidates applying for admission to initial teacher preparation programs must apply and interview by the date specified and provide the following evidence of knowledge of basic skills and content (in addition to other requirements):
- Minimum 2.5 GPA
- Passing score on or exempt GACE Basic Skills Exam.
- Passing score on the University’s Critical Writing, Reading, Thinking Exam (CWRTE)
- Passing score on the verbal and written portion of the admissions interview
- Successful completion of any recommended introductory courses
- CSC 120 Computer Applications (ECE, MGE, SEC)
- EDU 200 Introduction to Education.(ECE, MGE, SEC)
- HIS 451 Georgia History (ECE and MGE)
- PSY 125 Lifespan Development (ECE, MGE, SEC)
- MTH 120 Mathematical Modeling (MGE, SS and LA)
- MTH 140 College Algebra or MTH 150 Pre-Calculus (MGE Math and Science)
- MTH 160 Concepts of Mathematics (ECE)
- MTH 170 Concepts of Mathematics: Rational Numbers (ECE)
- MTH 210 Trigonometry (SEC Mathematics)
- STA 250 Intro to Statistics (MGE Math)
The Admissions/Advising Committee reviews all candidates applying to the teacher education programs to ensure that all requirements are met prior to admission. An admissions requirements checklist is used with each candidate to document successful completion of these entry requirements and is stored in their advising files. Additional requirements for entry into all programs are also documented (50 hours working with PK-12 children, three letters of recommendation, and a clear criminal background check).
Transition Point # 2: Entry to Student Teaching/Clinical Practice
Approval for student teaching provides a key assessment point for the teacher candidate. For approval to student teach, candidates must make application to the Coordinator of Field Experiences and Assessment who checks to ensure that the candidate has met the necessary program requirements, including successful completion of required courses, maintenance of a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA, completion of the Teacher Candidate Self-Assessment Survey and acceptable scores on the following key assessments:
- Field Experience Midterm/Final Summative Assessment(Professional Core III field/method courses checkpoint)
- Lesson Planning Assessment (Professional Core III field/method courses checkpoint)
- Professional Core Disposition Assessment (end of the semester Professional Core III)
- PK-12 Alternative Assessment(Core II EDU 350, Assessment Strategies to Improve PK-12 Learning)
- Mentor Teacher Survey of Teacher Candidate Performance (Professional Core III field/method courses checkpoint)
The Coordinator of Field Experiences and Assessment also facilitates the criminal background check process, which requires the school district in which the candidate is placed to review and clear the candidate’s criminal background check.
Transition Point # 3: Student Teaching/Clinical Practice Exit
Exit from student teaching includes the candidate’s completion of the Teacher Candidate Self-Assessment Survey and acceptable scores on each of the following:
- Field Experience Midterm/Final Summative Assessment
- Student Teaching Work Sample
- Electronic Portfolio
- Professional Core Disposition Assessment
- Mentor Teacher Survey of Teacher Candidate Performance
Transition Point # 4: Program Exit
To successfully complete one of the teacher education certification programs (Early Childhood Education, Middle Grades, Middle Grade Post Baccalaureate, Secondary English, Secondary Mathematics, Secondary English Post Baccalaureate, or Secondary Mathematics Post Baccalaureate) the teacher candidate must pass the appropriate GACE Content State Licensure Examination. Program exit begins when the teacher candidate applies for graduation and certification.
Intent to Graduate Application
In consultation with the candidate’s faculty advisor, the candidate completes and submits the Intent to Graduate Application. After the candidate applies for graduation, the Registrar’s Office conducts a graduation Degree Audit Report and certifies that the candidate has completed all requirements of the approved teacher education program, including passing the appropriate GACE Content State Licensure Examination, and is considered ready for graduation.
The Registrar issues a list of all program completers to the Coordinator of Field Experiences and Assessment, who uses the list to complete the paperwork required for recommending a teacher candidate for the appropriate Georgia certification.
Recommendation for Certification
The final step in the program exit process requires the teacher candidate to complete the Georgia PSC Certification Application and return it to the Coordinator of Field Experiences and Assessment. The Coordinator of Field Experiences and Assessment completes the Georgia PSC Approved Program Recommendation Form, selecting the appropriate certification decision. The unit’s Certification Officer reviews each Georgia PSC Approved Program Recommendation Form and accompanying certification application and signs certifying the applicants recommended certification status.
Transition Point # 5: After Program Completion
Unit-wide alumni and employer surveys are administered to assist the
unit in examining its programs from the perspective of former candidates and
their current employers; The New Teacher Hire Survey and the Recent Graduate Self-Assessment Survey. These surveys are aligned to
the Georgia Professional Standards.
2a.3. Describe plans for evaluating the unit’s assessment system. Who will be involved and how?
Structures are in place to ensure systematic evaluation and refinement
of the assessment system by unit
faculty, professional community members, and college administrators. Once a
year at the end of each spring semester, all program faculty meet with PK-12
stakeholders to review assessment data and the assessment system; a required
outcome of these annual assessment retreats is the completion of the Annual
Program Report which, among others, includes the following questions: What
changes need to be made in your program’s candidate assessments and scoring
guides or assessments of program operations in order to provide more meaningful
and useful data? Overall, how can the assessment system be changed to provide
more meaningful and useful evidence regarding candidate performance and program
operations? The professional community stakeholders who participate in the
assessment retreats are members of the unit’s advisory committee and include
PK-12 teachers, administrators, and Arts and Sciences faculty. These Annual
Program Reports are reviewed by the Administrative Council along with the
Coordinator of Field Experiences and Assessment, as well as the Director of
Institutional Assessment. The Administrative Council along with the Assessment
Review Committee is responsible for evaluating the overall effectiveness of the
unit assessment system.
2a.4. Describe how the unit plans to ensure that its assessment procedures will be fair, accurate, consistent, and free of bias.
The unit takes effective steps at both the unit and program levels to eliminate sources of bias in performance assessments and works at both levels to establish the fairness, accuracy, and consistency of its assessment procedures. Assessments are fair when they assess what has been taught. To that end, at the beginning of the assessment system development process, program faculty reviewed the curriculum to ensure that candidates were provided opportunities to learn, practice, and demonstrate the expected proficiencies identified in standards. In addition, faculty constructed state professional standards matrices as part of state program review. These matrices are charts showing where in the curriculum the teacher candidate has opportunities to learn and practice what is specified in the standards. Fairness also means that candidates understand what is expected of them on the assessments. Instructions and timing of assessments are clearly stated and shared with candidates, as can be seen in Standard 1 of this document. In addition, candidates are given information on how the rubrics are used to score the assessments and how they count toward completion of their program.
Assessments are accurate when they measure what they purport to measure. To this end, the unit has aligned assessments with the standards and learning proficiencies that they are designed to measure; that is, the same or consistent categories of content appear in the assessments that are in the standards. For example, the Field Experience/Student Teaching Midterm/Final Summative Assessment is aligned directly with the state standards for teacher performance and the unit’s conceptual framework. Assessments are reviewed annually during the Assessment Retreat to determine if they are well-aligned with standards, appropriate for the standard being assessed; if revisions are indicated, they are so noted in the Annual Program Reports.
Closely related to accuracy is the elimination of bias. To ensure that the results of assessments adequately reflect what candidates know and can do, the unit and programs work to remove problems with the assessment instruments that introduce sources of bias and thus adversely influence candidate performance. Assessment instructions and scoring guides are reviewed by program faculty to identify and eliminate problems with assessments such as missing or vague instructions, poorly worded questions, and poorly reproduced copies that make reading difficult.
The unit aims to ensure that assessments are consistent and produce dependable results or results that remain constant on repeated trials. Several strategies are systematically employed to help ensure that unit and program assessments are trustworthy. At each semester’s faculty retreat key assessment reliability training is conducted. All university supervisors are trained every semester in the use and application of the Field Experience/Student Teaching Midterm/Final Summative Assessment. Mentor teachers are trained during clinical teacher training sessions and school-based orientation meetings each semester with the Coordinator of Field Experiences and Assessment. Each teacher candidate is evaluated independently and cooperatively by the university supervisor and the mentor teacher.
2a.5. Describe the assessments and evaluation measures that will be used to manage and improve unit operations and unit programs.
The unit’s system includes a comprehensive and integrated set of evaluation measures that are used to monitor candidate performance and manage and improve program and unit operations. The unit assessment system provides regular and comprehensive information on applicant qualifications, candidate proficiencies, competencies of graduates, unit operations, and program quality and uses the data and its analysis for the purposes of improvement of both program and unit operations. The assessment system begins with an alignment to unit and state standards. All unit programs are aligned to the unit’s conceptual framework and to the Georgia Standards Commission Professional Standards. Next, assessment data are gathered at multiple points, multiple assessments are used including both internal and external data, data are regularly compiled, summarized, analyzed, and used; and information technologies are used to maintain these data.
Multiple assessments are utilized in the Division to monitor teacher candidate entrance, progression through, and exit from the program. These include: multiple admissions criteria, including a passing score on the GACE Basic Skills exam, The Standard 1 X Transition Point X Key Assessment Matrix shows the multiple assessments of teacher candidate proficiency that are collected, analyzed and used at five transition points to improve unit and program operations. All data are housed in LiveText, the University CAMS system, and the offices of the Coordinator of Field Experiences and Assessment and the Division Chair. Faculty committees meet monthly to review program data, discuss needs for improvement, and make suggestions to improve the program.
The Unit’s assessment system includes a strong component focused on faculty quality that involves both university and unit level assessment. It begins with the hiring process where the unit is committed to recruiting high quality faculty who are exemplary and reflective teachers and scholars and also serve the community. All potential faculty members are screened thoroughly before hiring and oversight is provided by the VP for Academic Affairs. Thomas University systematically completes a comprehensive evaluation process of full-time and adjunct/part-time faculty with the goal of continuous improvement. The formal evaluation process requires faculty to annually submit a Reflective Self Profile demonstrating teaching effectiveness, scholarship/professional development, and service activities. During fall and spring semesters and summer term, student evaluations of all full and part-time faculty members are administered by the university’s Office of Institutional Assessment. Results of student evaluations are analyzed and course summaries are distributed to the faculty and Division Chairs as aggregated and disaggregated data after each semester ends. Peer evaluations are organized by the Division Chair and are conducted annually as a part of the annual review process. The performance of the faculty member is reviewed annually by the Division Chair (or in the case of the Division Chair by the Provost/VPAA) in relation to the submitted Profile, course evaluations, and the supervisor’s observation and review of evidence. As part of the annual evaluation process, the faculty member identifies one to three goals in each area for the following academic year. The Division Chair discusses the faculty member’s annual performance and goals and the Division Chair completes the Thomas University Faculty Evaluation Summary. The faculty member is given the opportunity to review the Chair’s evaluation. If a corrective action plan is required (one or more areas not meeting expectations), it is developed with the faculty member. Both the faculty member and the Division Chair sign the evaluation and submit it to the Provost/VPAA. Additionally, faculty who supervise field and clinical experiences are evaluated by both the mentor teacher and the teacher candidate.
2a.6. (Optional Attachments) Tables, figures, and a list of links to key exhibits related to the unit's assessment system may be attached here.
Displayed in Table 4 are current Unit-level evaluation measures at five transition points (all programs use the same instruments).