Public education reform was triggered a decade earlier by a report, A Nation at Risk, which claimed that U.S. students generally achieved at lower skill levels than those of other industrialized nations (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). The Goals 2000: Educate America Act enacted by Congress in 1994, provided the framework for education reform for the 21st Century. This legislation called for the establishment of high-quality, internationally competitive content and performance standards for all students, promoted the use of technology to enable all students to achieve national goals, and emphasized the need for teacher education and professional development. Teachers were to be given the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to instruct and prepare students for the next century. They were to have access to programs to improve professional skills and encouraged "to use emerging new methods, forms of assessment, and technologies" (The National Education Goals Panel, 1998, Goal 4, p. 1).
Three themes of significance for this study converged in recent education reform documents concerning the preparation of teachers for the 21st Century: teacher accountability to professional content and certification standards, performance-based authentic assessment for both teachers and students, and the need for educators to have technological expertise. The U.S. Department of Education's New Teacher's Guide stated: "The highest academic standards, the best facilities, the strongest accountability measures, and the latest technology will do little good if we do not have a teaching force of the highest quality" (1997, September, p. 1). Providing well-prepared, technological literate teachers who meet high professional standards has presented a challenge to pre-service teacher training institutions.
2000: Educate America Act encouraged states to coordinate their
own standards reform efforts and provided funds to states and school districts
for better teacher training and professional development. In California,
the Challenge school district reform initiative called for fundamental
changes needed to move to a high-performance, standards-based system of
public instruction for all students (California
Department of Education, 1998). The California Commission on Teacher
Credentialing (CTC) began to redesign their program approval and evaluation
process for teachers. The
California Standards for the Teaching Profession (1997) document presented
updated standards for professional teaching practice. The Advisory Task
Force on Teacher Preparation for Reading
Instruction established additional literacy standards and factors to
be considered in September of 1997.
In April of 1997, the U.S. Department of Education Studies
of Education Reform published a research report on 16 school sites that
were developing and implementing performance assessments for students.
The purposes of performance assessment were stated as: monitoring student
progress, holding schools and teachers accountable for student achievement,
certifying student skills and capabilities, achieving better alignment
of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and informing and influencing
curriculum and instructional practice. Performance assessment was defined
as including alternative assessment, authentic assessment, and performance
assessment. Alternative assessment was distinguished from traditional multiple-choice
testing, authentic assessment involved real world tasks and contexts, and
performance assessment referred to student demonstration, performance,
or product development. Portfolios, described as collections of student's
work and developmental products, were included among the possible authentic
assessment tasks (U.S.
Department of Education, 1997a).
According to the 1997 U.S. Department of Education Studies of Education Reform, "the potential for applying new information and communications technology to performance assessment remains unrealized at all levels of education" (p.7). The report stated that technology offers possibilities for integrating assessment into the classroom, but knowledge in how to use technology in conjunction with performance assessment is lacking. The report described the problem as a "lack of technology experience and equipment, coupled with a lack of knowledge about how to develop and implement performance assessments" (p. 6).
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) issued a report called "Technology and the New Professional Teacher: Preparing for the 21st Century Classroom" in 1997. The NCATE Task Force on Technology and Teacher Education recommended that NCATE stimulate more effective uses of technology in teacher education programs. In order to prepare students to teach in tomorrow's classrooms, "they must experiment with effective applications of computer technology for teaching and learning in their own campus practice" (NCATE, 1997). The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) presented guidelines for accreditation to NCATE for the use of technology in teaching and learning in schools of education (1995).
NCATE has challenged higher education to incorporate technology across the entire teacher education program, not just as a "computer literacy" class added to the existing curriculum (1997, p.7). A study done by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) entitled "Teachers and Technology: Making the Connection," stated that far too many colleges of education are teaching about technology as a separate subject, rather than teaching with technology across the curriculum (OTA, 1995). A 1996 study of 56 colleges of education sponsored by the Northwest Technology Consortium (NETC), resulted in two recommendations: technology needs to be a pervasive part of how faculty teach; and preparation of pre-service teachers to use and integrate technology in their future classrooms needs to be emphasized (Queitzsch, 1997).
The NCATE task force stated that "today's teacher candidates will teach tomorrow as they are taught today" (p.4). This report emphasized that teacher education has the responsibility to prepare students for teaching in the 21st Century, even though that future is impossible to predict with the rapid developments in technology. The task force stated that teacher education is in a time of transition, calling for experimentation and a new attitude that is "fearless in the use of technology" (p.6). NCATE recommended that teacher education programs provide early experiences for their students and that technology be integrated into other education reform efforts (p. 8). This study focused on the use of technology as a tool for performance assessment of teacher candidates as evidence of achieving certification standards.
Research in the use of technology as a tool for performance
assessment, particularly in the form of the electronic portfolio, has been
seriously lacking at all levels of education (U.S.
Department of Education, 1997a, p. 6). Future teachers have been required
to carry out educational reform in the classrooms of the future by being
technologically literate, accountable to rigorous standards, and knowledgeable
in the use of performance assessment integrated with instruction. However,
the school reform study on assessment of student performance (1997) emphasized
that knowledge of how to use technology in performance assessment has been
lagging behind (p. 5). The
NCATE task force challenged teachers to experiment and incorporate
technology into their teaching and learning, even when future technology
is impossible to anticipate (p. 10).
The potential for using computer technology as a tool
for assessment has been explored in a small Northern California university
teacher preparation program. Multiple subjects credential students enrolled
in reading methods classes participated in an electronic portfolio project.
The electronic portfolio provided a framework in which teacher candidates
demonstrated mastery of course objectives based on state teacher certification
standards. The researcher designed templates using Hypertext Markup Language
(HTML), a web page authoring language, as well as Hyperstudio, an interactive
authoring program. Both programs allowed the student to organize and present
evidence in the form of text, graphics, sound files, and video. Students
were able to include personal reflections, course assignments, photographs,
pictures, audio recordings, and video within the electronic framework.
Whether the electronic portfolio could be considered an effective tool
for documenting teacher candidate performance and the achievement of course
objectives was the primary question investigated in this study.
Although the primary focus of this study was on the teacher
candidate's perception of the electronic portfolio process, the researcher
examined the electronic portfolio project from the course professor's point
of view as well. The process of designing the software templates and implementing
the electronic portfolio project in the reading methods class was investigated.
It was believed that the electronic portfolio project had the potential
to enhance the education of teacher candidates and prepare them for using
an emerging multimedia computer technology in their future classrooms.
1. What effect does incorporating technology have on the development of a portfolio for teacher candidates?
2. To what extent does the electronic portfolio process encourage self-assessment and reflection?
3. In what ways does the electronic portfolio provide evidence of student learning and achievement in line with course objectives?
4. What are the problems encountered in putting together the portfolio electronically?
5. What do students perceive as the strengths and/or weaknesses of creating a portfolio electronically?
6. What are the course professor's perceptions concerning the effectiveness of the electronic portfolio as a tool for assessment?
Copyright 1999 by Carla Hagen Piper