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Reflection on professional practice is not a random behavior [Campbell, 1997). Teacher education and state certification agencies have for some time recognized the importance of teacher reflection (Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), 2009; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), 2009;&Schlechty, 2002]. As a result of these requirements, it is not unexpected to see electronic portfolios linked to candidate reflection that would help establish insights to the person’s professional values and ethics.

Content mastery is a hypothesized criterion often attached to No Child Left Behind as a key indicator of a highly qualified teacher (Desimone, Smith,&Frisvold, 2007; Walch, 2001). Certainly knowledge of content is important if one is to be successful in the classroom. The electronic portfolio provides the principal a demonstration of a candidate’s command of subject matter. Unit and lesson plans are linked to the portfolio which places content at the heart of instruction. An electronic portfolio should be goal driven and organized around standards (Campbell, 1997). Some may use content standards such as those published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and others. INTASC Standards or those developed by the National Boards offer generic standards for teacher excellence. Candidates addressing professional standards offer quality assurance that they have an awareness of high expectations and will likely demonstrate them through content delivery.

Understanding and interpreting student assessment results is a fourth criterion that holds tacit relevance to content mastery. Knowing content and delivering it are only two pieces of an incomplete formula. Assessment of student learning completes the equation. The electronic portfolio allows principals to examine the candidate’s ability to assess learning and base instructional decisions on results. These skills are not found by evaluating traditional recruitment materials.

Assessing students in today’s environment has meaningful and lasting consequences. Accreditation, careers, and reputations are on the line if test scores consistently drop below expectations (Rothstein, Jacobsen,&Wilder, 2009). Darling-Hammond (1997) captured the importance of testing in twenty-first century schools when she said, “Testing methods influence teaching so intensely because test scores are increasingly used as arbiters of administrative decision in U. S. schools” (p. 58). Candidates using the electronic demonstrations are able to dramatically show how they can develop, use, and interpret test results. In addition, planning documents show a teacher’s ability to modify instruction to meet student needs based on those results (Popham, 2008). Content knowledge aligned with assessment is a key dimension important to teacher quality. Administrators filling classroom vacancies cannot afford to ignore the importance of teacher assessment skill in their content area.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Ncpea handbook of online instruction and programs in education leadership. OpenStax CNX. Mar 06, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11375/1.24
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