California Teacher Performance Assessment Glossary of Terms (alphabetical order)

Academic Content Standards for Students – California state-adopted standards that describe the knowledge and skills students are expected to master at each grade level within a content area.

Academic Language – Refers to the language of literacy and books, tests, and formal writing.

Adaptations - Changes made by a teacher to lesson or assessment components, usually to the lesson format or to a test, that allow students to participate in the lesson or the assessment. For example, adaptations can include use of different or additional resources, assistance from another student or adult, additional time, etc.

Analysis – A response that is grounded in evidence and deals with reasons, rationales, and interpretations of data and information.

Artifact – A document used or produced by a teacher candidate while planning instruction, during instruction, or as part of an assessment that will help TPA assessors better understand the activity featured in a videotape or written about in a response. This might include, but is not limited to, student work, lesson plan(s), unit plan(s), an assessment instrument, a rubric, task directions, assessment directions, etc. An artifact as evidence can assist an assessor in understanding a teacher’s analysis and rationale.

Assessment - The formal or informal process of collecting evidence about student progress, analyzing and evaluating progress, communicating about progress, and adjusting teaching practice based on reflection on a teacher’s practice. There are multiple forms of assessment, including achievement or other standardized tests, exercises or assignments that enable teachers to measure student progress, student work, and feedback from parents or other family members.

Entry-Level Assessment - Used by a teacher to determine whether students possess crucial prerequisite skills and knowledge expected at their grade level. By using entry-level assessment, the teacher is asking: "To what degree do my students already know and understand the content of the standards I am planning to teach for this unit of study?" The results of entry-level assessments help guide the teacher in setting the course of initial instruction and determining modifications for specific students or groups of students.

  • Progress Monitoring Assessment: Frequent monitoring of student performance during instruction that yields assessment data on whether students are progressing adequately toward achieving the frameworks or academic content standards for the lesson or unit, and that can be used immediately to adjust instruction. By using progress monitoring assessment, the teacher is asking: "To what degree are my students achieving the content of the standards I am teaching?" "Are they progressing adequately?" "Do I need to adjust how I am teaching?" "Do they need re-teaching?"
  • Summative Assessment: Measures the depth of understanding and the generalization and transference of skills and knowledge required for mastery of the grade-level frameworks or academic content standards. When using summative assessment, the teacher is asking: "To what degree have my students achieved the content of the standards I have taught? " "Do I need to re-teach any key concepts?" "Can the class move forward to a new unit of study?"

CCTC – The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is an agency in the Executive Branch of State Government. The agency serves as a state standards board for educator preparation for the public schools of California for the licensing and credentialing of professional educators in the state, for the enforcement of professional practices of educators, and for the discipline of credential holders in the State of California.

CA Teaching Performance Assessment (CA TPA) – The state-approved assessment that measures aspects of the Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) that describe what California teachers need to know and be able to do before receiving a Preliminary Credential.

CA Teaching Performance Assessment Tasks - Four inter-related yet separate performance tasks that are designed to measure aspects of the TPEs and to reflect what beginning teachers should know and be able to do before receiving a Preliminary Credential.

Content Area – An academic discipline such as English/language arts, mathematics, science, or history/social science, foreign language, etc.

English Language Development – Instruction designed and structured specifically for limited English proficient students to develop their English language skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

English Learner – A student who uses a primary language other than English and who has developing proficiency in English as a goal.

Evidence - Any information produced by a teacher candidate or by students that documents teaching performance and can be linked to the Teaching Performance Expectations.

Focus Student(s) – Selected students who allow a teacher candidate to demonstrate his or her ability to collect information, plan instruction and assessment, make adaptations, and reflect.

  • The range of students includes English learners and other students with special needs or challenges.

Framework – California curriculum frameworks describe and define the content and instructional program teachers are expected to deliver within a content area at each grade level.

Instructional Plan - A set of decisions made by the teacher during planning that outlines the sequence and organization of an instructional experience.

Instructional Strategies - What the teacher does during instruction to actively engage students with the content.

Lesson - A period of instruction; an assignment or exercise in which something is to be learned; an act or an instance of instructing; teaching; an experience, example, or observation that imparts new knowledge.

Linguistic Background – A student’s linguistic background is made up of the languages and language experiences that have been part of his or her life experiences.

Pedagogy - The art or profession of teaching; training or instruction.

Prompt - A question or statement that elicits a teacher candidate’s response within the performance tasks.

Reflection – The act of stepping back and taking a fresh look at one’s practice and how it is affecting student learning. A candid and structured self-analysis about teaching and learning. A thought process that occurs after a teaching situation. This is the thinking that allows a teacher to make decisions about how she would approach similar situations in the future. She could decide to do something the same way, differently, or not at all.

Student Activities – What students do during an instructional experience.

Student Characteristics – Attributes of students such as cognitive, linguistic, social and physical development and background experiences.

Students with Special Needs - Students with an active Individual Education Plan or a Section 504 Plan.

Subject Matter – A strand or branch of content within a content area or discipline. Or, the specific concept(s) or skill(s) within the content area that is being taught and that is the subject (or focus) of the lesson.

Task-specific Rubric – A set of explicit criteria for each performance task that is organized by TPE domains and is used to measure teacher candidate responses. Each rubric is unique to a performance task.

Task Response - A teacher candidate’s response to assessment questions for a given performance task. In addition to a candidate’s written response, a task response may include instructional and assessment artifacts, student work, videotape (for Task 4 only), etc.

Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA) – Any assessment that measures aspects of the Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) that describe what California teachers need to know and be able to do before receiving a Preliminary Credential.

Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) – Describe what California teachers need to know and be able to do before receiving a Preliminary Credential.

Teaching Strategies – A combination of instructional methods, learning activities, and materials that actively engage students and appropriately reflect both learning goals and students’ developmental needs.

TPA Assessor – An expert in pedagogy or a California credentialed educator who is a classroom teacher or administrator. He or she also must have satisfactorily completed a comprehensive, approved training program to score one or more TPA task(s).

Unit of Study - A group of related lessons supported by a common goal or theme. The time interval should be sufficient to present evidence of students’ skill or understanding of the topic.