Part 3: Assessment of the Student Teacher

1. Overview

The student teaching experience is a culmination of years of preparation. As a student teacher, you are not expected to be a master teacher. Consequently, the design of student teaching assessment and evaluation supports your reflection and growth, while simultaneously providing evidence about your accomplishments.

The Penn State Teacher Education Performance Framework (see Appendix A) describes your expected performances in four major domains of practice:

  1. Planning and Preparing for Student Learning
  2. Teaching
  3. Analyzing Student Learning and Inquiring into Teaching
  4. Fulfilling Professional Responsibilities

Each domain identifies critical understandings, abilities, and dispositions that you, as a Penn State teacher candidate, should know, understand, be able to do, and exemplify in your work as a teacher.

During the student teaching semester, there will be many opportunities for you to conference with your mentor teacher and university supervisor about your performance as a new professional. Formative  assessments will clarify where you are at a given point and where you need to go in terms of professional growth. You will be provided with verbal and written feedback throughout the practicum.

This section of the Penn State Student Teaching Handbook will focus on the student teaching performance portfolio and two important parts of the assessment process - the mid-semester evaluation and the final evaluation. The portfolio, mid-semester, and final assessment processes contribute to the your overall assessment, as required by Chapter 49 of the Pennsylvania School Code, in the areas of basic skills and general knowledge, professional knowledge and practice, and subject matter knowledge.

2. Student Teaching Performance Portfolio

The Student Teaching Performance Portfolio is a purposeful and organized selection of evidence that demonstrates how you have accomplished the performance expectations set forth in the Penn State Teacher Education Performance Framework (see Appendix A). The portfolio is different from the filing system being maintained, in that the filing system contains all paperwork and related items for the whole semester. The Student Teaching Performance Portfolio contains works that you carefully select and extract from the files in order to demonstrate what you have accomplished as a student teacher. The Student Teaching Performance Portfolio is the natural complement to the Penn State Performance-Based Assessment of Student Teaching form; it is the place to assemble and reflect on evidence used to derive ratings of performance.

The portfolio allows you to:

  • Experience a professional portfolio process such as the one used in statewide beginning teacher programs in several states and used by experienced teachers seeking National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification.
  • Provide specific examples of work related to all performance standards to your mentor teacher and university supervisor for discussion and reflection throughout the experience, especially during the performance assessment conferences.
  • Have an organized collection of evidence of performance to use during job interviews.
  • Share evidence of accomplishments with Penn State faculty so they can assess the quality of the teacher preparation program.

Organize your portfolio around each of the performance domains in the Penn State Teacher Educational Performance Framework. The level of performance achieved in each standard should be addressed by referencing at least two artifacts contained in the portfolio, with reference to at least one piece required at mid-semester to make a compelling argument of performance to that point in time.

A significant value of the portfolio lies in your reflection about the process of selecting the artifacts you use as evidence to be included in the portfolio. A written justification will accompany each piece of evidence. Simply put, these justifications provide the rationale for its inclusion. Portfolios are most useful when they support your personal process of learning to teach, rather than merely the products of your learning.

3. Penn State Performance-Based Assessment (see Appendices B & C)

3.1 Mid-Semester Assignment

The midterm conference is a time for a formal, data-based discussion about your progress. The discussion takes place with you, your mentor teacher, and your university supervisor. The mid-semester conference is facilitated by your university supervisor and generally follows this pattern:

  1. You, your mentor teacher, and your university supervisor complete the Penn State Performance-Based Assessment of Student Teaching (Form ST-1. The ST-1 form can be found at http://www.ed.psu.edu/cife.) The supervisor will specify whether each person should complete the form independently or together as a group. In either case, each person submits an honest appraisal of your performance in each of the major domains of practice listed on the form. Ratings should be made relative to (1) the indicators on the assessment form and (2) evidence from the first half of the student teaching experience. In addition, the Pennsylvania Statewide Evaluation Form (PDE 430) required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, will be completed by the university supervisor only. See information regarding all assessment forms in the Appendices B-E, and G.
  2. You, your mentor teacher, and your university supervisor meet at the mid-semester conference to review and discuss current performance. The conference also is used to set goals for the remainder of the experience.
  3. Based on this mid-semester conference, your supervisor will prepare verbal and written summaries of the ratings in each performance area and of the expectations and goals for the remainder of the semester. You will complete the form entitled, “Mid-semester Goals and Strategies for the Second Half of the Semester.” See Appendix F.


NOTE: The mid-semester conference may result in a determination that you are not making adequate progress based on the expectations stated for student teaching in this Handbook. If your supervisor determines that an overall satisfactory rating will not be possible by the end of the experience, you will be referred to either the Elementary or the Secondary Coordinator of Curriculum & Instruction Field Experiences, who will determine the next steps.

3.2 Final Assessment

The process for conducting the final assessment is similar to the process for conducting the mid-semester assessment. You, your mentor teacher, and your university supervisor complete the Penn State Performance-Based Assessment of Student Teaching. Once again, a three-way conference is held to review performance and discuss ratings on the assessment form and determine if Mid-semester Goals and Strategies have been met for the second half of the semester. Although it is desirable that consensus between your mentor teacher and university supervisor be reached concerning the grade to be issued, the final decision and subsequent reporting of the grade is the responsibility of your university supervisor.

After the conference, the university supervisor forwards all necessary documentation of your performance to the Field Experience Office. An electronic copy of The Penn State Performance-Based Assessment of Student Teaching will be forwarded to the Penn State Career Services Office for inclusion in the e-credentials file for employment purposes. This is your only access to this assessment that includes references from your university supervisor and mentor teacher. It is your responsibility to activate the e-credentials file by contacting the Career Services Office (814-865-2377) in 101 Bank of America Building, Career Services Center, and University Park, PA 16802 (http://www.sa.psu.edu/career/).

3.3 Pennsylvania Statewide Evaluation Form (See Appendices D & E)

The Pennsylvania Statewide Evaluation Form for Student Professional Knowledge and Practice (PDE 430), as previously noted, is mandated by the Pennsylvania State Legislature and must be administered by all Pennsylvania institutions offering teacher certification programs. The assessment form will be utilized twice—at mid-semester and at the end of the semester (final) and is completed by the University Supervisor only. You can access this form at http://www.teaching.state.pa.us/teaching/cwp/view.asp?a=90&pm=1&Q=32539

3.4 Final Grade

A final grade will denote the University Supervisor’s professional judgment of the quality of your overall performance during your student teaching semester. Your university supervisor, in consultation with your mentor teacher, will assess your performance in the classroom. Overall performance includes participation and accomplishment in non-classroom components as well,  such as the student teaching seminar. The final grade, therefore, will be based upon all aspects of your performance. This includes the quality of (1) your achievement of the standards specific to the individual’s certification program; and, (2) other practicum and seminar requirements.

The grade will reflect the documented level of performance as well the supervisor’s estimation of the amount of mentoring the student teacher will require as a beginning teacher. A letter grade of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, D or F will be assigned.

Criteria for an “A” Grade: A student teacher may be awarded an “A” grade when it can be stated unequivocally that:

  • The student teacher is: fully capable of beginning the first years of teaching demonstrating true excellence.
  • The student teacher must have met all the provisions of the “B” grade in an exceptional manner and demonstrated a high degree of effectiveness in working cooperatively with peers and other educational professionals in the setting of the student teaching assignment.
  • The student teacher will demonstrate exceptional achievement in attaining competency as judged by qualified professionals charged with supervision and will require minimal support as a beginning teacher.

Criteria for a “B” Grade: A “B” grade in student teaching is indicative of:

  • Moderate achievement in student teaching as judged by qualified professionals charged with the supervision of student teachers.
  • Having successfully completed all course requirements.
  • Being above the level of minimally acceptable achievement. The student teacher may require some support at the beginning of the first teaching assignment, as is common for beginning teachers, but has the earmarks of becoming a highly successful teacher.

Criteria for a “C” Grade: A “C” in student teaching means that the student teacher who:

  • Has demonstrated, at least, minimally acceptable achievement across all competencies.
  • Has performed on a level that suggests the student teacher will need considerable mentoring when entering the teaching profession.

Performance below a “C” level is indicative of a student teacher whose performance in students teaching did not reach a threshold of acceptability for certification. Such performance may result in removal from the practicum.