CTC assessment gauges school leadership

August 17, 2017

During the past seven years, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has been engaged in a comprehensive effort to update and revise standards, policies and regulations relating to the preparation of school administrators and program accreditation. The effort has been motivated by contemporary developments in both the research and practices of effective school administrators and by the complex needs of California’s public schools in the 21st century.

Importantly, the CTC reforms in educational administration have been informed by theories and evidenced-based practices relating to instructional leadership, change leadership, professional learning communities, experiential learning, equity and equal opportunity in schools, and organizational systems. The work has been strongly influenced by scholars including Chris Argyris, Edwin Bridges, Linda Darling-Hammond, Richard DuFour, Michael Fullan, Carl Glickman, Meredith Honig, David Kolb, Kenneth Leithwood, Richard Marzano, Joseph Murphy, Terry Orr, Karen Seashore Louis, Edgar Schein, Peter Senge and Kyla Wahlstrom.

In September 2013, the CTC amended the requirements for earning the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential to include, along with successfully completing an approved program and clinical practice, the passage of an administrator performance assessment. While in recent years, interest in authentic demonstrations of administrative ability has increased among administrative credentialing programs, California is one of a small number of states that has taken action to incorporate a capstone performance assessment as a licensure requirement.

The primary impetus behind this initiative rests on the theory that the ability of a candidate to demonstrate administrative competencies is a better predictor of future success than merely relying on traditional assessments of administrative content knowledge. This concept was a key principle described in the report “Greatness by Design,” released by the state superintendent of public instruction in 2012.

Over the past year, a 15-member design team of practitioners and administrative educators, including representatives from ACSA, the California Association of Professors of Educational Administration, California Teachers Association, California Department of Education, and assessment development experts from the CTC and Evaluation Systems group of Pearson, has been engaged in designing an assessment instrument called the California Administrative Performance Assessment. The CalAPA has been purposefully designed to address key elements of the California Administrator Performance Expectations (CAPE). The recently revised professional standards provide the conceptual and practical basis for the three leadership cycles, or tasks, that comprise the CalAPA and assess organizational development, change management and instructional leadership.

• eadership Cycle 1, Analyzing Data to Inform School Improvement and Equity, focuses on analyzing multiple sources of school site/district data for the purpose of identifying equity gaps to inform an initial draft plan for equitable improvement in line with the school’s vision and mission.

• eadership Cycle 2, Facilitating Communities of Practice, focuses on facilitating collaborative professional learning within a community of practice for the purpose of improving teaching practice and student learning.

• eadership Cycle 3, Supporting Teacher Growth, focuses on coaching an individual teacher to improve teaching and learning.

Each leadership cycle reflects four steps commonly used to engage in rational inquiry: Investigate, Plan, Act and Reflect. This “IPAR” model provides an overarching conceptual framework to help guide and refine the candidate’s thinking as he or she moves though each cycle. The intent of IPAR is to facilitate effective decision making through a series of progressively interrelated cognitive tasks, each building off of the preceding step. Perhaps most importantly, the IPAR can serve as a useful decision-making tool or logic process throughout an administrator’s career.

The three cycles may be completed in any order deemed appropriate by an administrator preparation program. However, programs may also find it useful to implement them consecutively, starting with the analysis of data to inform school improvement and equity, followed by the facilitation of communities of practice, which may extend upon or build off of the first cycle, and culminating in administrative support for teacher growth.

The CalAPA is intended to provide both a summative assessment of candidate administrative ability and a formative framework to guide and develop candidate competence as the candidate engages in the process of completing the three cycles.

It is also important to note that the design features and requirements of the CalAPA necessitate that the state, credential programs and public schools work closely together to provide candidates with appropriate learning activities, resources and support needed to successfully engage in and complete each of the three cycles. As such, the CalAPA is designed to be embedded within the program and clinical practice.

This cooperative alignment is also intended to provide the kind of performance-based feedback to candidates that will be the foundation for their continued professional development on-the-job and, in particular, as they engage in the induction requirements of the clear administrative credential.

The CalAPA is still under development. A pilot test of the assessment first was conducted with a group of 25 programs and more than 300 candidates during the winter and spring of 2017. The pilot test results have informed refinements to both the required evidence gathered during the cycle of tasks and analytic scoring rubrics for each cycle.

Beginning this fall, 500 preliminary candidates and approximately 25 program providers will participate in a field test of the CalAPA system, during which participating candidates will complete and submit evidence of practice for all three cycles of the assessment instrument.

The field test results will be analyzed in spring 2018 and will be used to inform any further refinements needed before the final rendition of the CalAPA is offered to programs in a non-consequential administration during the 2018-19 academic year. The official statewide launch and first consequential year of the CalAPA is planned for the 2019-20 academic year.

The CTC, in collaboration with Evaluation Systems, will be providing a series of communications and support activities throughout the 2017-18 academic year. Two workshops, funded by the Wallace Foundation, for teams of two to six program representatives are scheduled for Nov. 14-15 at the Hilton Hotel in Mission Valley, San Diego, and for Jan. 30-31 at the William S. Hart Union High School District Annex in Santa Clarita.

These workshops are specifically designed to assist teams of program faculty and district partners in planning for the implementation of the CalAPA. Topics relating to course design, fieldwork, and clinical practice will be discussed. CalAPA field test materials, including cycles and rubrics, will be introduced and reviewed.

For additional information regarding the CalAPA, contact Amy Reising at areising@ctc.ca.gov or Gay Roby at groby@ctc.ca.gov. For information specifically about becoming an assessor for the field test, please go to www.ctcpa.nesinc.com.

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