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Teaching new dogs new tricks: Teacher leadership in the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT)

Chase Nordengren

Institutions that work with teachers and teaching, from school districts to unions to preparation programs, find themselves under enormous pressure to define who teachers ought to be and what capabilities they ought hold, before outside forces define those ideas for them. Still, consensus is hard to find. While other professions "manage reform" through mandatory accreditation and licensing, teaching does not control or require its own process of accrediting preparation programs or licensing teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2010b, p. 38). Two movements in particular now wrestle in this tense space. Advocates of teacher performance assessments (TPAs), a set of formative and summative assessment tools for teacher candidates, argue the promotion of more complex instruments of evaluation can better shape and inform a public understanding of the complex nature of teaching and learning. Simultaneously, advocates and scholars of teacher leadership increasingly recognize how leadership includes a diverse set of changing skills and sets of knowledge. This article examines these movements at their intersection, exploring how a common teacher performance assessment--the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT)--understands and evaluates skills for teacher leadership. Understanding the importance of training teachers to work together with and through adults, this study finds gaps in PACT's focus on how teachers interact with one another, socially transmitting norms of professional practice. This article poses the following questions: (1) How do summative evaluation documents for the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) describe working with and through colleagues? and (2) How do those documents represent the concept of teacher leadership present in academic work on school leadership?

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