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Resolution Opposing High-Stakes Teacher Candidate Performance Assessments

Approved by NCTE Members Voting at the Annual Business Meeting for the
Board of Directors and Other Members of the Council, November 2016

Ratified by a Vote of the NCTE Membership, February 2017


High-stakes teacher candidate performance assessments are a serious, imminent threat to the integrity of the field of English Education and to the teaching profession as a whole. High-stakes performance assessments are being used in at least 710 teacher education programs across thirty-nine states. Additionally, passing a high-stakes assessment is required or under consideration for licensure in sixteen states and could become a requirement for teacher licensure nationwide.

There are widespread concerns regarding the lack of predictive validity and the privatization of teacher candidate performance assessments as well as the potential for disparate impact of these assessments on preservice English educators and their students.

  • Unlike university-based evaluations of candidates’ performance, through which multiple stakeholders assess candidates’ growth over time, high-stakes performance assessment scorers often determine competency based upon a limited number of lessons in candidates’ self-curated portfolios.

  • High-stakes performance assessments diminish the quality of preservice teacher education by shifting the focus of student teaching from student learning and professional growth to a single assessment.

  • Because they are standardized and delocalized, high-stakes performance assessments undermine the abilities of candidates to develop the skills necessary to meet the unique, situated needs of students in their classrooms. 

  • By privileging a singular, culturally hegemonic construction of effective teaching, high-stakes performance assessments inhibit the preparation of candidates to be culturally and contextually responsive teachers who are ready to respond to the unique needs of learners.

  • High-stakes performance assessments privilege a narrow definition of academic language in the classroom. 

  • Unanswered questions regarding the use, transmission, and storage of high-stakes performance assessment video clips create privacy concerns that put K-12 students and their teachers at risk.

High-stakes teacher candidate performance assessments do not meet NCTE’s characteristics of a fair, effective, and successful system of teacher evaluation (“Position Statement on Teacher Evaluation,” 2012) and violate NCTE’s resolutions on testing and social justice in literacy education (“Resolution on the Students’ Right to Their Own Language,” 1974; “Resolution on Testing,” 1995; “Resolution on Social Justice in Literacy Education,” 2010; “Resolution on Student Educational Data Privacy and Security,” 2015). Additionally, high-stakes performance assessments violate CEE’s position statements on social justice and diversity in language arts education (“Beliefs about Social Justice in English Education,” 2009; “Supporting Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners in English Education,” 2008). Be it therefore


Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English

  • strongly oppose legislation mandating the requirement that candidates pass high-stakes teacher performance assessments as a requirement for licensure;

  • strongly oppose the use of standardized high-stakes assessments during candidates’ student-teaching experiences; and

  • encourage its members to engage in critical scholarship and teaching about teacher candidate performance assessments.

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