A case study of elementary teacher candidates’ preparation for a high stakes teacher performance assessment

  • Susan Swars AuslanderEmail author
  • Stephanie Z. Smith
  • Marvin E. Smith
  • Kayla Myers


Increased accountability demands are being placed on teacher preparation programs across the USA to demonstrate competencies of their teacher candidates. As a means of evaluating teacher candidates’ instructional effectiveness and readiness for their own classrooms, some programs are using standardized teacher performance assessments, with faculty navigating how to respond to these requirements while maintaining a focus on desired learning outcomes of methods courses. This study’s elementary teacher preparation program is located in one of the states recently requiring successful completion of the Elementary Education edTPA, which includes four tasks with one focused on mathematics (i.e., Math Task 4). A case study design was used to explore the preparation of teacher candidates (N = 51) for edTPA during a mathematics methods course emphasizing Cognitively Guided Instruction that included a simulated Math Task 4 assignment. The study specifically investigated changes in mathematical beliefs across the course and perspectives on engagement in the simulated Math Task 4. Data were collected via two belief surveys: an open-ended questionnaire and individual interviews of six participants. The quantitative findings show two important course intentions—that pedagogical beliefs would shift toward more cognitive alignment and teaching efficacy beliefs would increase—were not realized. The qualitative data provide insights into some of the struggles associated with edTPA, including pronounced anxiety and substantial misalignment with classroom placements, serving as a filter for learning and change during the course.


Mathematics teacher preparation Elementary teachers Standardized teacher performance assessments Mathematics methods courses Cognitively Guided Instruction Teacher beliefs 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Swars Auslander
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephanie Z. Smith
    • 1
  • Marvin E. Smith
    • 2
  • Kayla Myers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Early Childhood and Elementary EducationGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Elementary and Early Childhood EducationKennesaw State UniversityKennesawUSA

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