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Preparing Educators

Candidate Assessment of Performance (CAP) 2015-16 Pilot

To:Massachusetts School and District Administrators and Teachers
From:Heather Peske, Associate Commissioner for Educator Effectiveness
Date:September 8, 2015


In our continued effort to prepare effective teachers in Massachusetts, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), with the support and guidance of an advisory group of external stakeholders, has developed the Candidate Assessment of Performance, or CAP, for program completion for teacher candidates. This performance assessment will be piloted by teacher preparation programs in the 2015-16 school year and will fully replace the Pre-service Performance Assessment (PPA) in 2016-17.

The purpose of the CAP is to assess the overall readiness of teacher candidates to be impactful with students on day one. There are two facets to the CAP: the content (what is being assessed) and the process (how candidates are being assessed). Districts should be reassured and excited that both the content and process of CAP are aligned to the expectations for teacher practice articulated in the MA Educator Evaluation Framework. Therefore, first-year teachers who have completed CAP will not only be better prepared to make impact with students right away, but will also be well-versed in the educator evaluation processes of self-assessment, goal-setting, and formative and summative feedback.1

Content: To determine readiness, the CAP assesses candidates' practice on six essential elements from the MA Model Teacher Rubric Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document:

  1. 1.A.4: Well-Structured Lessons
  2. 1.B.2: Adjustment to Practice
  3. 2.A.3: Meeting Diverse Needs
  4. 2.B.1: Safe Learning Environment
  5. 2.D.2: High Expectations
  6. 4.A.1: Reflective Practice

These elements were selected based on two criteria:

  1. The absence of a teacher's competency in the skill is likely to put students at risk.
  2. The element serves as an umbrella for skills outlined in other elements, in most cases other elements were pre-requisite skills to those outlined in the essential element.

Overall, we believe that the combined performance on these elements will be representative of candidates' readiness to be impactful on day one. ESE plans to collect data over time to assess the extent to which these elements are predictive of performance once employed.

Process: CAP is anchored by a 5-Step Cycle that mirrors the cycle used in the MA Educator Evaluation Framework and is designed to provide teacher candidates with ample feedback to help them refine and improve their practice. Components of the evaluation experience have been modified so that they are appropriate for the context of preparation and focused on the essential elements of practice for novice teachers. Aspects of the MA Educator Evaluation Framework that are evident in CAP include:

  • A 5-step cycle that includes self-assessment, goal setting, plan implementation, formative assessment and a summative evaluation.
  • The collection of evidence from multiple measures, including: artifacts and data from announced and unannounced observations; measures of student learning, growth or achievement; and feedback from students
  • Use of a performance rubric to focus conversations and feedback
  • The application of professional judgment to draw conclusions about performance

Evidence is collected throughout the practicum and analyzed to determine whether a candidate has demonstrated readiness at minimum threshold levels according to performance descriptors in the CAP Rubrics Download MS WORD Document for each essential element.

Rollout: During the 2015-16 academic year, teacher preparation programs will be required to participate in the CAP Pilot with a minimum of ten teacher candidates; programs will administer the PPA to assess all other candidates. It is possible that teacher candidates completing their practicum in your district during 2015-16 may be participating in the CAP Pilot. Preparation programs are responsible for communicating which assessment will be used to evaluate their teacher candidates in your district, as well as provide training and support for supervising practitioners that are working with their candidates as part of the CAP Pilot.

In addition to training that will be provided by your partnering preparation program(s), we are developing training resources to support the CAP Pilot. The resources available now are the CAP Guidelines Download MS WORD Document released on June 30, the CAP Overview Webinar, CAP FAQs, and the Educator Evaluation TEEM videos that consist of concrete examples of transformative evaluation systems across a diverse set of MA districts. We will be releasing training resources later this fall that will be posted to our website.

We believe serving as a supervising practitioner and working with teacher candidates as they complete the CAP is an exciting teacher leadership opportunity. The parallels between the supervising practitioner's own educator evaluation process and the candidate's work on CAP will present new opportunities to emphasize the importance of being self-reflective practitioners committed to continuous improvement. We hope that this new assessment sets a high bar for teacher candidate readiness and will strengthen the educator workforce in Massachusetts. Thank you for your support.

For questions or comments regarding the CAP, please email us at:


1 CAP represents the next phase of strengthening the connections between preparation and employment and is reflective of ESE's deliberate efforts to create a seamless career continuum for educators. Over the last two years, the Department has also updated the Professional Standards for Teachers Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document used by preparation programs to align with the Standards of Effective Teaching Practice used by districts in the MA Educator Evaluation Framework.

Last Updated: September 10, 2015
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