Strengthening the Preparation of Early Childhood Teacher Candidates through Performance-Based Assessments

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Performance-based assessments require teacher candidates to demonstrate proficiency on specific teaching tasks and apply knowledge in authentic settings. This article describes the development and use of performance-based assessments (PBAs) for advancing the learning and evaluation of teacher candidates in an early childhood special education teacher preparation program. Teacher candidates completed PBAs under supervision during culminating practica experiences at three age levels (infant/toddler, preschool, and primary practicum). Methods for determining proficiency on national (Council for Exceptional Children) and state (Colorado teacher licensure) standards are described, along with the challenges and opportunities presented by the use of PBAs. Performance-based assessment data over a 5-year period indicate teacher candidate performance meeting and exceeding national standards and state licensure requirements.