Assessment System | SCALE

Source: Assessment System | SCALE

Design Principles for Teaching Performance Assessments

SCALE utilizes teacher assessment designs that are based on the structure of several successful teacher portfolio assessments, including the National Board Certification Portfolio, INTASC Portfolio, edTPA and the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT).

TPA Diagram

Assessments developed by SCALE incorporate the following six foundational principles.

  1. The assessment should be educative for both candidates and experienced educators involved in its implementation. Candidates should not only be engaged in assembling documentation of their teaching ability, but the process of creating the documentation should be a learning experience. Experienced educators deepen their knowledge of content pedagogy through discussions during training with other educators, and through thoughtful examination of a variety of teaching strategies in a number of contexts. Reports from candidates and assessors in complex teaching assessments like the National Board affirm that this is an attainable goal.
  2. The assessment should rep resent a complex view of teaching. If we want quality teachers who can adjust their teaching to their students to achieve high learning goals from the start of their careers (Darling-Hammond and Bransford, 2005), we need to see how well pre-service teachers accomplish this complex task. We plan to collect a variety of artifacts of teaching (e.g., lesson plans, videotapes of teaching, student work samples) that represent different areas in which teachers make judgments, and have candidates explain the underlying teaching decisions that they made. This will provide multiple measures of how candidates make decisions in light of their growing knowledge about their students and about effective teaching practice.
  3. The assessment should be centered on student learning. We believe that novice teachers should explain their teaching practice in light of the student learning they intend to achieve, and also demonstrate the ability to achieve student learning progress.
  4. The assessment should be discipline-specific. Teacher learning focused around subject-specific pedagogy is more effective than generic teacher learning (Darling-Hammond and Ball, 1998). We believe that it is important for candidates to demonstrate their ability to manage key teaching/learning tasks in their discipline and for their performance to be judged by experienced educators in that field.
  5. The assessment should consist of integrated tasks. We believe that a teaching assessment should not consist of independent tasks, but that the evidence should come from a slice of teaching practice. In this way, assessors can see how a candidate plans connected instruction to lead students to achieve nontrivial learning objectives, and how a candidate reassesses earlier decisions in light of their observed effects on student learning.
  6. The assessment should result in analytic feedback and support. We believe that pre-service teachers do not progress evenly in teaching abilities across multiple dimensions of teaching. Analytic rubrics can provide candidate feedback that reflects differential strengths and indicates areas of focus for continued growth.


The Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), formerly associated with the School Redesign Network at Stanford University, provides technical consulting and support to schools and districts that have committed to adopting performance-based assessment as part of a multiple-measures system for evaluating student learning and measuring school performance. SCALE’s mission is to improve instruction and learning through the design and development of innovative, educative, state-of-the-art performance assessments and by building the capacity of schools to use these assessments in thoughtful ways, to promote student, teacher, and organizational learning.

SCALE’s areas of work include:

  • Working with Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs), schools and districts to develop performance assessment tasks,
  • Establishing and overseeing scoring procedures,
  • Providing professional development to support teachers and students, and
  • Conducting research to support the reliability and validity of the assessment system.

SCALEPhoto of eyes forward poster is directed by Dr. Raymond Pecheone, who has over 30 years of expertise and experience with performance assessment. Members of the SCALE team led the development, field testing, and validation of the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT), adopted by over 31 universities and other teacher credential programs to meet California licensing and accreditation requirements, and continue to administer the assessment. SCALE currently leads the national Teacher Performance Assessment Consortium (TPAC), which is field testing a teaching performance assessment in over 100 IHEs across 26 states in 2011-12. Over the last eight years, SCALE has supported a number of student performance assessment initiatives, including collaborations with the Envision Schools, the Asia Society International Studies Schools Network, the Ohio Department of Education, the New York City Department of Education, the Gates Foundation Literacy Design Collaborative, the Hewlett Foundation’s Deeper Learning Initiative, and the Council of Chief State School Officer’s network of eleven Innovation Lab Network states.

SCALE has a staff with deep experience and internal capacity to provide technical consulting in performance assessment design and implementation, and also relies on partnerships with external consultants who provide content-specific expertise in the design and implementation of performance assessments, including the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative (David Foster), Inquiry by Design (John McMillan, Dennie Wolfe), and Daisy Martin (Center for History and New Media at George Mason University). SCALE is also advised by Dr. Edward Haertel at Stanford University, Dr. Mark Wilson and Dr. David Pearson at UC Berkeley, who have deep expertise in the fields of psychometrics, performance assessment, and literacy assessment. Other departments and faculty members of the School of Education with whom SCALE collaborates and consults include: the Learning Design and Technology program faculty (Dr. Roy Pea, Dr. Daniel Schwartz); and the Psychological Studies in Education program (Dr. Edward Haertel, Dr. Richard Shavelson; Dr. Brigid Barron).

To learn more about SCALE, please contact us at