Teacher Candidate Assessment and Evaluation

Teacher candidates participate in a series of assessment and evaluation activities that create an overall assessment system for the University of Minnesota teacher licensure programs. Cooperating Teacher and University Supervisors participate in some, but not all, aspects of this assessment and evaluation.

Application and Admission

Candidates entering the majority of our license programs must have demonstrated the following minimum criteria in order to be admitted to the program.

  • Completed bachelor’s degree
  • Grade point average of 2.80 overall at the time of application
  • Content area knowledge through the completion of prerequisite courses
  • Additional related experiences, with preference for significant experiences with diverse populations both inside and outside of a classroom setting
  • An admission statement used to evaluate best fit between applicants and proposed Initial Licensure Program, ability and experiences not reflected in other admission materials.

Entry into Licensure Program

Candidates complete an Entry Survey that provides more background information about them to the program and college. This information is primarily used by the college to adjust recruitment and admission strategies and to determine how trends in candidates’ background lead to job-seeking and job- performance over time. The candidates are not evaluated based on this Entry Survey information.

Candidate Performance in the Program

All candidates will complete Key Assessments while in the licensure program. These are course-embedded assessments where data is collected on demonstration of standards attainment in pedagogical and content-specific standards. The data collection for the Key Assessments takes place in our Canvas course management system.

Additionally, there are two University of Minnesota Twin Cities specific assessments tied to student teaching. First, a dispositional assessment of professional preparedness is completed just before student teaching and at the end of student teaching. Second, the Skills of Teaching Observation Tool (STOT) is used to assess candidates pedagogical preparedness over the course of their student teaching placement. These required assessments are collected using the Teacher Education Management System (TEMS) for purposes of accountability, student progress review, and program continuous improvement. All students can access summative versions of the STOT completed about them through TEMS. All college-wide key assessments of pre-student teaching field experiences and student teaching are aligned with the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice.

Pre-Student Teaching Progress Review

Prior to being approved for the final student teaching placement, each candidate’s records are reviewed to ensure that all program requirements are met, including course progress, GPA, dispositions assessment, and field experience hours, scope, and diversity thresholds. If any of these items are not met, faculty and staff will work with the candidate to create an individualized plan to articulate requirements for continuing in the program.

Licensure Testing Requirements

The Minnesota state legislature passed a bill in June 2023 that removed the statutory MTLE exam  (Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exams) requirements for those who completed an approved licensure program, effective August 1, 2023.

Teacher candidates are no longer required to take and pass the MTLE (content and pedagogy) tests for their Minnesota tier 3 or tier 4 license. This statutory change also applies retroactively to those who completed the program previously and did not pass the MTLE.

These legislative updates also include the Minnesota Basic Skills requirement. The basic skills are no longer required to move from a tier 3 to a tier 4 license.

Teacher candidates still need to meet all other program and licensure requirements before applying for their MN tier 3 license, including licensure and prerequisite coursework, required practicum and student teaching, and edTPA*.

*edTPA is not required for the parent and family education program, school counseling program, and school psychology program.

Teacher Performance Assessment (EdTPA)

The Teacher Performance Assessment (EdTPA) is the state-mandated performance evaluation assessment for all initial licensure candidates.

It is a nationally available assessment of teacher candidates’ readiness to teach. The assessment focuses on the impact the teacher has on student engagement and learning. The assessment is modeled after the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) performance assessment for experienced teachers and draws from research on effective teaching.

Evidence of candidate teaching readiness is drawn from a subject-specific learning segment, three to five lessons from a unit of instruction for one class of students. Candidates complete the following tasks in the EdTPA:

  • Planning for Instruction and Assessment. Candidates provide evidence of their ability to select, adapt, or design learning tasks and assessments that offer all students equitable access to curriculum content. Artifacts include lesson plans and assessments.
  • Engaging Students and Supporting Learning. Candidates provide evidence of their ability to engage students in meaningful learning tasks and demonstrate how they facilitate students’ developing understanding of the content. Artifacts include video of teaching and written commentary.
  • Assessment of Student Learning. Candidates demonstrate how they analyze their students’ learning and use assessment information to plan future instruction. Artifacts include classroom assessments of the whole class and cases of individual student learning over time.
  • Reflection. Candidates provide a brief reflection that synthesizes their understanding of the effect of their teaching on student learning.

National scoring of the EdTPA is conducted by an external agency for a fee that will be paid by the candidate. Candidates submit their EdTPA electronically. Candidates will be supported through registration, submission of the portfolio for scoring, and results reporting by the Office of Teacher Education (OTE) and their program faculty.

Trained, certified scorers in the candidate’s specific subject area assess the performance on five-point rubrics. Based on the submitted evidence and the assessment results, faculty and candidates can discuss the impact of candidates’ teaching performance on student learning and determine ways to increase effectiveness. Faculty can analyze evidence of candidate performance to guide decision-making about program revision and renewal. Other state education agencies may use EdTPA scores for license and program approval.

NOTE: Individual license programs may also have additional “key” assessments that the program faculty use to assess teacher candidates on the specific requirements of their content area standards, the Standards of Effective Practice (SEP) or other areas of program focus.

Mentor-supported self-assessment by the teacher candidate

To foster a commitment to life-long learning and professional development (an element of our conceptual framework), opportunities for teacher candidates to examine and direct their professional development through reflective conferencing with their cooperating teachers and University supervisors must be frequent and inquiry focused. Cooperating teachers and University supervisors are in the unique position to model and encourage reflective teaching practice. Regular opportunities for pre- and post-conferencing should be planned to engage and assist teacher candidates in reflection on their practice. Additional suggestions for cooperating teachers and University supervisors for helping teacher candidates reflect on their teaching performance include:

  • Share your own assumptions, intentions, and reactions as a teacher
  • Build trust by listening carefully, remaining non- judgmental, and maintaining a supportive position
  • Formulate questions that help the teacher candidate clarify or probe the issues or problems that she/he may experience
  • Help the teacher candidate review student work and find connections between student learning and instructional goals and practices
  • Encourage the teacher candidate to record teaching experiences, including insights, affirmations, issues, and problems
  • View the Teacher Performance Assessment video together and raise questions that require the candidate to articulate their reasoning for instructional decisions
  • Use the questions embedded in the Teacher Performance Assessment to frame questions for the candidate about their everyday teaching

Program Specific Formative Observation Protocols

Formative observation assessments complement the process of reflective conferencing, and assist University supervisors, cooperating teachers, and teacher candidates in specifying areas of teaching strengths and those in need of development. The University provides an observation protocol for supervisors to use on a regular basis during regularly scheduled observation visits. Individual programs may require a different observation protocol. All protocols reflect the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers.

Final Assessments

All programs utilize a common final evaluation of student teaching tool, the Skills of Teaching Observation Tool (STOT), which comprises 34 observation items across ten sections and four categories of evaluation: The Learner and Learning, Content Knowledge, Instructional Practice, and Professional Responsibility. Each candidate is assessed on all 34 items as their final evaluation of student teaching. Additionally, candidates are evaluated by their supervisor on their professional dispositions using a tool that evaluates candidate attainment of different aspects of Professional Conduct, Professional Qualities, and Communication and Collaboration. Attaining minimum standards on both assessments is considered necessary as a checkpoint for completing all licensure requirements.

Student Teaching Grade Reports

Since student teaching is also considered a University course, the University supervisors submit student teaching grade reports to their respective departments.

Completion of Program

In the final period of the program, candidates receive an overall evaluation, give feedback to the university on their learning experiences, and plan for a career as a licensed teacher.

Recommendation for License

The University Licensure Officer reviews each candidate’s completion of all state and University requirements before filing the appropriate paperwork with the state to recommend a candidate for a state teaching license.

Final Progress Review and Recommendation for License

After the successful completion of student teaching, candidates may apply for a Minnesota teaching license. Upon receiving the candidate’s application, the University Licensure Officer completes a final audit of the candidate’s record, verifying that all requirements are met. Coursework, GPA, Key Assessments, Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examination scores, edTPA submission, and transcripts from prior institutions must all be reviewed. Upon successful completion of this audit, the University files the appropriate paperwork with the state to recommend a candidate for a state teaching license.

Letters of Recommendation: The candidate may request letters of recommendation from their cooperating teacher and University supervisor. It is at the discretion of the cooperating teacher and University supervisor as to whether to agree to write a letter on behalf of a teacher candidate.

Exit Survey: Each candidate must complete the Exit Survey prior to leaving the University. This survey provides an opportunity for the candidate to give feedback on their programmatic experiences including program coherence, effectiveness of the supervisor and cooperating teacher mentoring, and experience with faculty.

It is essential that the candidate provide contact information for the University to be able to reach them so that they will benefit from ongoing support services that the University will provide for its graduates. The candidate is not evaluated based on their responses to this survey.

Transitioning to a Teaching Career

The University follows up with our candidates in two ways after they have completed the initial licensure program.

Transition to Teaching Survey

Near the end of the first year of teaching, former candidates will receive the Transition to Teaching Survey electronically. This survey asks the teacher to provide information about how well they were prepared to successfully teach in their first year. Even if the former teacher candidate is not engaged in a teaching career, the survey includes sections on the candidates’ job-seeking efforts that will help the University program adjust and refine its practices to better serve its future students.

School Supervisor (Employer) Survey

Near the end of the first year of teaching, the school- based supervisors (frequently, the school principal) of our former candidates will receive a Supervisor Survey. This survey asks supervisors to provide an evaluation of the performance of our former candidates during their first year of teaching. This survey information will be used by the University programs to better meet the needs of students in schools in areas where our graduate’s performance is assessed as needing improvement.

For more CEHD Accreditation and Survey Data Collection Information, contact ote@umn.edu.