Standard One

Narrative from Standard One of the CAEP self-study report

The Pennsylvania State University's Conceptual Framework guides teacher preparation programs across all majors, minors, and certificates (Conceptual Model). As members of educational communities informed by standards, research, and best professional practices, candidates are held to high expectations in four performance domains: Planning and Preparing for Student Learning, Teaching, Inquiry and Analysis of Teaching and Learning, and Fulfilling Professional Responsibilities (Penn State Performance-Based Framework). The conceptual model and performance framework promote the knowledge, skills, and dispositions new teachers are expected to develop as a result of their teacher preparation to assure they are classroom ready. The teacher preparation programs emphasize learning as a continuous process that extends over the entire span of the educator’s professional life.

Candidates are required to be knowledgeable about the subject matter that they will teach. They must also learn how to create environments that support the learning and development of all students and clients, how to enrich individual and group learning, and how to use a variety of learning resources, including technology.

Across programs, EPP candidates demonstrate understanding of InTASC standards. With deep understanding of the learner and learning, content, instructional practice, and professional responsibility, candidates demonstrate skills and commitment that provide all P-12 students access to rigorous college and career ready standards. Candidates model and apply technology standards as they design learning, engage learners, implement instruction, and assess learning. In preparation for the self-study and to access, compile, and consult data and evidence regarding Standard 1, programs without SPA examined evidence, compiled exemplars of program practice and candidate experiences, reflected on evidence, and identified areas for targeted continuous improvement (Exemplars). These exemplars and program’s SPA reports (SPA reports) represent one basis for identification and analyses of trends and patterns and allow for comparisons across preparation programs.

Candidates across the EPP programs demonstrate content knowledge, knowledge of learners and learning, knowledge of instructional practice, and professional knowledge and responsibility through a variety of mechanisms. One standard and established measure is licensure tests. Candidates from all programs demonstrate high pass rates on these exams, with 100% pass rates for several programs over multiple years. For example, Special Education (SPLED), Agricultural Education (AG ED), and Health and Physical Activity Education (HPE) posted 100% pass rates for all three cycles (years) of data. Many other programs also had 100% pass rates for one or more years. For all cycles, pass rates were all above 83% for all programs except general science. In general science, pass rates were 80% in 2014-2015, 70% in 2015-2016, and 83% in 2016-2017. It is important to note that the EPP does not have a general science certification path. Candidates from other programs (e.g., AG ED, Biology, Chemistry, Physics) sometimes test for general science, likely the reason for lower percentage of passing scores on this assessment. Early Education and Childhood Education (PK-4), the largest program, averaged pass rates of 99%, 88%, 90% on the Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests (PECT) assessment (Program pass rates and GPA disaggregated by year).

In Pennsylvania (PA), the licensure tests for PK-4 and SPLED are three different PECT tests, developed and administered by Pearson and chosen by Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) ( ). PECT tests are criterion-referenced multiple-choice assessments developed based upon perceived unique needs of PA, consistency with PA educational standards and practice, and content knowledge expected of entry-level teachers. The tests are grounded in the Pennsylvania Program Framework Guidelines and content validity of the test was established through extensive participation of Pennsylvania public school teachers and teacher educators. This included feedback from an equity assurance panel and advisory committees as well as findings from content validity surveys. Extensive field-testing was conducted with the measure. Cut scores were established through a rigorous process and are continuously monitored. Standard scale scores are reported. The PECT test for PK-4 includes modules that assess child development, learning, and assessment and professionalism; as well as content modules that assess language and literacy development, social studies, arts and humanities, and mathematics, science, and health. Two different PECT tests assess SPLED certification areas, one for P-8 and the other for 7-12. Both assess foundations and professional practice, understanding students with disabilities, assessment and program planning and implementation, inclusive learning environments, and development of specially designed instruction.

For Middle Level, Secondary, Agriculture, and Health and Physical Education, licensure testing includes Praxis exams. The Praxis tests include content knowledge, general pedagogical knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge. Educational Testing Service (ETS) relies on the joint standards to support the validity of scores from the assessment for the purposes of licensure World Languages rely on American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language (ACTFL) testing ( The ACTFL test measures oral fluency and written fluency in languages. The test is a product of a decade of development, from pilot tests to field tests and subsequent research, that supports the reliability and validity of the instrument. Proficiency levels were confirmed through the use of 9000 student performances. Unlike other licensure exams in PA, the ACTFL focus is largely assessment of content knowledge and does not substantially address the InTASC standards. The ACTFL is an established instrument that has been used for decades. Many studies have examined the psychometric properties of the instrument. For example, Surface and Deirdorf (2008) reported strong interrater reliabilities for oral fluency (α>.90) across a sample of 5881 interviews representing 19 languages. The ACTFL FAQ,  provide additional information regarding the reliability and validity of the scale.

Candidates also demonstrate their content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge through course grades and GPA in content courses and methods courses. Candidates must receive at least a ‘C’ grade in methods courses to remain in the program; hence, completers’ grades are skewed and program exemplars illustrate good grades in methods courses. Across programs, candidates generally take content courses prior to Entry to Major (ETM); these grades tend to have more variance. Importantly, candidates must have a 3.0 GPA prior to ETM; they compare favorably with university students not in teacher preparation programs, supporting the claim that EPP students are representative of students attending the selective university (Course grade comparison). Penn State curriculum standards require a minimum 80% overlap among courses taught with the same number regardless of campus or delivery method, lending support for reliability in course grades. Within programs, an individual course is often taught by the same instructor, lending rationale for consistency in grades. Despite limited variance in candidate grades, consistency across programs in that EPP students, with high grades, also have high pass rates on content and methods proprietary exams suggests support to the validity of course grades.

Other sources provide additional evidence of candidates’ knowledge. For state licensure across programs, candidates’ instructional practices are assessed through the PA-430, which provides evidence of Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instructional Delivery, and Professionalism. Candidate portfolios provide additional documentation of candidates’ knowledge of learners and learning. Because candidates' e-portfolios consist of examples from coursework and field experiences across the program, strong portfolio performance is a good indicator that candidates are developing a broad set of professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions.

Several assessments provide evidence gathered in learning settings. All programs employ clinical observations. As an outcome of the self-study and SPA feedback and indicative of continuous improvement, assessment rubrics in several areas are under revision. Evidence gathered during field experiences include ST-1 in addition to PA 430. ST-1 assesses all areas of the Penn State Performance-Based Assessment Framework. Reliability in scores is addressed through group meetings of supervisors. Scoring the PDE 430 has been reviewed by the EPP. The CIFE director hosted multiple seminars with supervisors to discuss the wording of the 430 and the reliability of the scoring of the 430. For example, to accommodate differences in interpretations, the CIFE director held a seminar for supervisors where everyone made observations as they watched a recording of a student teacher teaching a classroom lesson. After the recording was finished the director facilitated a discussion among the supervisors focusing on what they noticed in the recording and how they recorded what they saw.

Assessments also address specific areas and rubrics allow for elaboration on how well candidates are meeting particular Performance Framework areas. Classroom planning and preparation and readiness to address individual differences and diverse learners are assessed through development of a unit plan in campus courses and field experiences. Further evidence of productive attitude comes from professional/dispositional statements, as required by PDE. One additional example is the dispositional statement used by (Agriculture Education Dispositional Statements).

Candidates’ uses of research and evidence honors the EPP’s commitment to life-long development. Evidence is found in various forms with opportunities for extensive, formal, and self-directed activity.

Teacher education programs provide course and field experiences in using data and evidence to address a concern and to affect future individual and group intervention and instruction. In a pre-student teaching practicum, SPLED 495G, candidates work in general education classrooms and serve as a classroom resource for the general education teacher. Candidates, in consultation with the general education teacher, identify an at-risk student for an academic intervention. The candidate then develops a curriculum-based measurement in that area, implements instruction, collects data, and modifies instruction as necessary. The impact of the intervention is reported at a team meeting with teachers and serves to assist team members in the core and related services when making plans for future interventions or referrals. In student teaching, candidates implement the data-driven instruction process in a special education setting with a group of diverse learners and the information is then used as updates for the classroom student's IEP. Secondary Education candidates complete a similar cycle of identification, action, analysis, and revision that evaluates lesson impact on an exceptional student and informs subsequent lessons. Such work is done to celebrate difference as well as to support and scaffold learning (Intervention projects).

The small-scale projects undertaken in courses are complemented by larger inquiry projects during student teaching. Inquiry projects engage candidates in identifying a question related to their practice, designing the instruction or intervention and the evidence collection and analysis, and then reporting their findings and implications for their own practice to peers, mentors, and others. Beyond having their work evaluated by EPP faculty, candidates in PK-4, Secondary English, and World Languages, placed in local districts, professionally present their wonderings, evidence, interpretation of evidence, conclusions, and implications for practice at an annual Inquiry Conference. The corresponding projects demonstrate candidates’ abilities to use research and evidence to measure student behavior and learning and to reflect on their practices. Data collected include data collected in evidence of student progress and reflection on those data. Attendees number in the hundreds and include candidates, mentors, supervisors, other school and university educators and administrators, and family members. Within individual inquiry projects, candidates target content standards, identify measures, analyze evidence from the measures, and then describe how well they impacted their student’s growth.

Examples of and reflection on analysis of student challenges and strengths, designed instruction or intervention, and analysis of evidence of impact on student learning also appear in portfolios developed in programs (portfolio example). PK-4 program faculty noted significant growth in e-portfolio scores between CI 495B and 495D/F on the indicators, systematically analyzes student data (C2) and manages classroom procedures (B3) of the Penn State Performance Framework. Analysis of student data is an essential aspect of measuring student progress, and analysis of evidence is necessary to use the evidence to inform practice and improve student learning (Course syllabi).

Portfolios also document evidence of candidates’ professional growth. For example, PK-4 candidates develop an ePortfolio and revise it over time to represent their growth. The self-selected nature of artifacts is indicative of candidates assuming responsibility of assessing and improving their own practice.

In some programs, candidates complete SLO as part of their student teaching experience. The SLO process is used to document educator effectiveness based upon student achievement of content standards. Pennsylvania uses SLO as a system to measure educator effectiveness. Agricultural Education, for example, has candidates practice and demonstrate the use of SLO in their field placements. SLO require educators to identify content standards and measure student growth on those standards (SLO template).

Programs with SPA feedback examined outcome assessments to ensure candidates developed and could apply content and pedagogical knowledge in these assessments, and found reason for grounded optimism given the extent to which the evidence suggested candidates were developing knowledge in typical disciplines and in related areas. For example, PECT exam for state licensure (Assessment 1) and a selection of candidates' required coursework (Assessment 2) indicates PK-4 candidates develop specialized knowledge and practices for supporting each child's meaningful learning. In addition to strong content knowledge in academic disciplines and content areas, PK-4 candidates are knowledgeable in child development and learning and in family and community relationships.

For the Middle Level Education (MLE) program, candidates’ data from key Assessments 1-4 and 6 provided sufficient evidence that candidates have more than adequate subject matter content knowledge and they have a strong preparation in English/Language Arts subject matter content. In Assessment 3, program faculty noted that they did not yet collect data on the candidates' ability to create interdisciplinary units. Evidence suggests MLE candidates are meeting content expectations for classic disciplines and evidence regarding areas that cut across multiple content strands is forthcoming.

Evidence also suggests that candidates are successful in using their knowledge of teaching in general and in specific acts of teaching. MLE candidates could use varied assessments and instructional strategies, including some that could honor cultural diversity. Multiple assessments of candidates’ application of knowledge revealed weaknesses of programs. For example, the PK-4 faculty noticed that the lowest PECT Exam scores of students were in Language and Literacy. PK-4 majors take these courses for 2 or 3 semesters, prior to student teaching, and there is no formal concurrent field experience. In collaboration with field supervisors, faculty have observed a disconnect with literacy practices in advanced field experiences. In response to this, faculty have started integrating literacy workshops into students teaching seminars. As part of continuous program revision, faculty plan to decouple the Language and Literacy Block of courses and develop a literacy strand across the program. These and all teaching methods courses will be paired with field experiences in schools and/or informal settings.

Other areas exhibit potential and are improving rubrics. HPE has a promising tool in the form of a set of three lesson plans; reviewers believe it could address multiple standards. SPLED offered assessments for which an enhanced rubric is needed. Mathematics and PK-4 offered course grades that need greater explanation.

In addition to the need for elaboration or clarity, SPA assessments revealed a common issue with rubric assessments that emerged across programs. This issue was the blending of multiple (sub)standards into a single rubric category. Unpacking each of these led to more explicit attention to some (sub)standards. For example, the PK-4 program noted how the scoring rubric for the signature assessment, Concepts and Uses of Play, included some but not all sub-standards (key elements) of Standard 1 and Standard 2. The rubric addressed child development and learning, which are common to both Standard 1 and Standard 2, but did not consider particular elements of the two standards, such as the involvement of family in development and learning, which is unique to Standard 2 and has long been highly valued by program faculty. Interestingly, across programs, follow-up on SPA feedback tended to affect rubrics rather than assignments.

The need to parse rubric items into multiple lines suggests the EPP was providing relevant activities—and candidates might be developing knowledge—but nuances of standards were not explicitly addressed and clearly assessed with each and every candidate. In some cases, such as the Assessing Children’s Understanding Through Math Talk assessment from the PK-4 mathematics methods course and NAEYC standards, relevant standards are listed on the assignment. This degree of transparency might be helpful in alerting candidates to what is important.

The quality of existing and revised assessments is met through trial of the assessment, debriefing on the difficulties of its administration and interpretation, and analysis of trends in scores. Critical in the teacher education programs that are extended to two or more campuses is consistency across settings. Communication with lead faculty for courses and directors for programs contribute to this consistency.

The importance of academic standards and teaching to academic standards underlies program coursework. Programs provide varied evidence that candidates demonstrate skills and commitment that afford all P-12 students access to rigorous college- and career-ready standards. Many use clinical observation tools aligned with standards. Social Studies, for example, uses an observational rating tool aligned with PA Academic standards and NCSS standards administered during candidates’ field experiences. Validity of the data garnered from the tools is enhanced through the use of benchmarks that ground scores and triangulation of multiple raters. Similar tools are employed by World Languages and Mathematics.

The PDE 430 includes “Knowledge of Pennsylvania’s K-12 Academic Standards” as part of Planning and Preparation. Reliability and validity are addressed through supervisor meetings and conversations stemming from self-study and SPA feedback led to reconsideration of distinctions among ratings. In some programs, lesson planning activities in courses and in field experiences require explicit statement of the standards that are to be addressed in the lesson.

Candidates learn that sets of standards typically emphasize not only content but also process standards. Both types of standards are considered for the PDE 430. In addition, signature assignments in methods courses target use of standards. Some existing assignments and rubrics have been revised to make this more explicit. For example, the Mathematics Long-Term Plan now includes direct mention of both types of standards and benchmarking through faculty discussion of the meaning of the indicators supports reliability of this item and interpretation of similar items in course assessments across the program. Integration of methods courses across PK-4 and Middle Level now include coordinated experiences across Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics, including cross-discipline experiences and consideration of standards to inform planning and implementation of lessons. The addition of The Creative Child course to the PK-4 program provides preparation in the arts that is consistent with and connected to literacy experiences and expectations.

Candidates model and apply technology standards to engage students and improve learning and to enrich professional practice. Several teacher education programs use recently renovated labs that support use of multiple forms of current technology for a variety of uses, including analysis of teaching practice, establishment of contemporary learning environments, and provision of diversity experiences.

Perhaps the most prevalent use of technology across programs is to capture and analyze teaching practice. Candidates encounter discipline-relevant ways to use technology to assess student learning and performance in teaching, coaching, and fitness contexts. For example, HPE creates a lab environment in the gym in which StarBoard is used for candidates to video student activity and then tag performance to provide student feedback and to integrate clips of the activity in lectures. Such activities help the candidates as teachers to develop their practice and aids the candidates as students to improve their physical performance.

Technology to record professional practice is also used to provide not only a detailed record but also multiple perspectives. For example, GoPro cameras are used in HPE courses to give the candidates a first person perspective of their teaching/instructing, which is especially useful in studying teaching of populations in which safety concerns and individual student needs must be noticed and considered. Field instructors in the Workforce Education use rubrics uploaded to the eWalk system to conduct walk-through evaluations (using iPads) of candidates while they are teaching. The results are placed in the system and student performance is tracked throughout the semester and communicated to candidates.

Tools are also integrated into programs to link campus and field experiences. Special Education candidates use Vosaic Connect, a video analysis phone or iPad application, to provide a direct link between methods coursework and student field experiences. Methods instructors develop forms based on course content that candidates use to analyze their teaching performance. Candidates use video analysis across all semesters. They begin using the phone app to view model teachers and identify exemplary teaching behaviors. They next follow a very scripted format for explicit direct instruction and use an observation form that includes all the critical elements. Candidates later use the app for viewing and discussing their teaching behavior with their mentor teacher, supervisor, and peers in their field experience seminar.

Recently the EPP has piloted the introduction of TeachLivE as a mixed-reality classroom tool for pre-service candidates to practice pedagogical skills, manage behaviors, and practice simulated IEP meetings. Feedback from candidates suggested an interest in these targeted areas earlier in programs. By engaging candidates as live teachers in virtual settings, the tool provides opportunities to practice skills in methods courses prior to field experiences. The use of the technology will be expanded for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Programs help candidates to develop a forward-looking view of classroom environments and curricula, and the tools that can be part of learning and teaching today and into the future. MYZONE MZ-3, a next-generation heart rate monitor, is used in the HPE courses to provide students with instant and accurate effort feedback. Candidates view their live fitness data on their smartphones and other screens and then learn how to use real-time biofeedback and create group fitness programs.

Social studies candidates are expected to bring a Web-enabled device to class to write lessons and design instructional materials. Solstice and in-room displays are used to collaborate in planning, workshop products in groups, and to practice teaching to small groups and the whole class. Candidates use a digital course management system (Canvas) to design and revise major lesson assignments, preparing them to use similar online teaching systems in their future teaching. They also receive explicit instruction in their methods classes and support labs on media literacy as well as educationally responsible uses of technology and social media.

Ozobot robots have been used in Secondary Mathematics courses to illustrate mathematical concepts and procedures and to connect mathematical ideas with coding. Students can then take the technology into school settings, such as a STEM fair at a local high school, to experience learning–teaching experiences with students that transcend candidates’ K-12 experiences and the school’s current curriculum.

As part of an introductory agricultural mechanics course in the Agricultural Education program, candidates created videos utilizing 360 video technology. Groups of three or four candidates worked together to choose a topic area within agricultural mechanics. Each topic corresponded to a unit within the class. This project allowed students to create reusable learning objects that can help a wider audience learn the critical psychomotor skills developed in agricultural mechanics instruction. The use of 360 degree video can be an innovative way to allow students that were absent for a class session to feel they were part of the class as they view material they missed in the laboratory session. As each group watched others’ videos, candidates discussed of ways to incorporate such technology into their own teaching.

Secondary English candidates have experiences with media literacy in which digital texts in particular are a focus. For example, they prepare to teach children how to evaluate media sources, consider biases underlying media texts, and consider matters of digital footprint and identity as they affect both young people and the broader society. In courses focused on the teaching of literature and writing, candidates prepare digital stories about their own learning and students’ learning, explore tools for digital writing collaboration and writing assessment, and directly prepare to teach digital writing (Hicks, 2013).

The communicative power of technology is used to connect candidates with places different from where they are and where they were students. PK-4 candidates tutor students at the Shepherd School (Philadelphia) and in Hazleton, using technology to bridge the distance. Such experiences provide opportunities not only to work with students in academic subjects but also to learn about the roles of language and culture in teacher–student interactions.

Importantly, our use of technology remains dynamic as we assess candidates’ needs and technology enhancements. EDUCATE (Exploring Directions in Ubiquitous Computing and Teacher Education) supports candidates and faculty in PK-4, Secondary English, and Special Education as they explore and adopt technology to enhance teaching. It started as a 1:1 program and, as the landscape of technology evolved, moved to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model that is consistent with newly renovated classroom spaces that encourage collaborative work. A BYOD movement and increased use of accessible and often free tools across programs allows candidates to take what they learn in methods classes to other classes in their program and to field experiences. For example, candidates use digital tools (e.g., blogs, video analysis, podcasts, e-portfolios) in both methods classes and field experiences to support their ongoing development as teachers.

The Evidence Table for Standard One complete with components and documents referenced in parentheses above can be found at


 Hicks, T. (2013). Crafting digital writing: Composing texts across media and genres. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

 Surface, E. A., & Dierdorff, E. C. (2003). Reliability and the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview: Reporting indices of interrater consistency and agreement for 19 languages. Foreign Language Annals36(4), 507-519.