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Educator Effectiveness:

Effect of Performance-Based Teacher Certification on Teacher Recruitment, Retention, and Effectiveness

October 2019


What is the effect of performance-based teacher certification on teacher recruitment, retention, and effectiveness?


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Thank you for the question you submitted to our REL Reference Desk. We have prepared the following memo with research references to help answer your question. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles on the effect of performancebased teacher certification on teacher recruitment, retention, and effectiveness.

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. Also, we searched the references in the response from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive, and other relevant references and resources may exist. References provided are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. We do not include sources that are not freely available to the requestor.

Research References

Darling-Hammond, L., Newton, S. P., & Wei, R. C. (2013). Developing and assessing beginning teacher effectiveness: The potential of performance assessments. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 25(3), 179–204. Full text retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “The Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) is an authentic tool for evaluating prospective teachers by examining their abilities to plan, teach, assess, and reflect on instruction in actual classroom practice. The PACT seeks both to measure and develop teacher effectiveness, and this study of its predictive and consequential validity provides information on how well it achieves these goals. The research finds that teacher candidates' PACT scores are significant predictors of their later teaching effectiveness as measured by their students' achievement gains in both English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. Several subscales of the PACT are also influential in predicting later effectiveness: These include planning, assessment, and academic language development in ELA, and assessment and reflection in mathematics. In addition, large majorities of PACT candidates report that they acquired additional knowledge and skills for teaching by virtue of completing the assessment. Candidates' feelings that they learned from the assessment were the strongest when they also felt well-supported by their program in learning to teach and in completing the assessment process.”

Goldhaber, D., Cowan, J., & Theobald, R. (2017). Evaluating prospective teachers: Testing the predictive validity of the EdTPA. Journal of Teacher Education, 68(4), 377–393.

From the ERIC abstract: “We use longitudinal data from Washington State to provide estimates of the extent to which performance on the edTPA, a performance-based, subject-specific assessment of teacher candidates, is predictive of the likelihood of employment in the teacher workforce and value-added measures of teacher effectiveness. While edTPA scores are highly predictive of employment in the state’s public teaching workforce, evidence on the relationship between edTPA scores and teaching effectiveness is more mixed. Specifically, continuous edTPA scores are a significant predictor of student mathematics achievement in some specifications, but when we consider that the edTPA is a binary screen of teaching effectiveness (i.e., pass/fail), we find that passing the edTPA is significantly predictive of teacher effectiveness in reading but not in mathematics. We also find that Hispanic candidates in Washington were more than 3 times more likely to fail the edTPA after it became consequential in the state than non-Hispanic White candidates.”

Goldhaber, D., & Hansen, M. (2009). Race, gender, and teacher testing: How informative a tool is teacher licensure testing? American Educational Research Journal, 47(1), 218–251. Full text retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Virtually all states require teachers to undergo licensure testing before participation in the public school labor market. This article analyzes the information these tests provide about teacher effectiveness. The authors find that licensure tests have different predicative validity for student achievement by teacher race. They also find that student achievement is impacted by the race/ethnicity match between teachers and their students, with Black students significantly benefitting from being matched with a Black teacher. As a consequence of these matching effects, the uniform application of licensure standards is likely to have differential impacts on the achievement of White and minority students.”

Petchauer, E., Bowe, A. G., & Wilson, J. (2018). Winter is coming: Forecasting the impact of edTPA on Black teachers and teachers of color. Urban Review: Issues and Ideas in Public Education, 50(2), 323–343. Full text retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “This article traces how high-stakes teacher exams have shaped the career entry opportunities for Black teachers and makes recommendations for the emerging era of high-stakes performances exams brought about by the edTPA. We begin our analysis in the 1980s and the testing for competencies movement during which scholars critiqued the rising use of high-stakes standardized licensure exams as gatekeepers into teacher education programs. Although the most severe predictions from this crisis moment did not come to fruition, we ask what it can tell us today about exams like the edTPA and how it may impact Black teachers. We outline three findings from the emerging edTPA scholarship in response to this question: (1) mixed and alarming results from edTPA racial bias reviews, (2) institutional resources and unequal distribution, and (3) how the exam may constrain or permit justice. We make recommendations for teacher education programs and for scholars conducting research at the intersection of edTPA and racial bias.”

Stewart, A. R., Scalzo, J. N., Merino, N., & Nilsen, K. (2015). Beyond the criteria: Evidence of teacher learning in a performance assessment. Teacher Education Quarterly, 42(3), 33–58.

From the ERIC abstract: “U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (2009) underscored the need for better assessments of the pedagogical skills of new teachers when he identified the efforts of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and its 800 colleges and universities to improve student learning through developing a national assessment of teacher candidate readiness, a performance-based assessment modeled after the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT). The PACT, a teaching performance assessment, is designed to measure effective teaching through assessing five domains (with rubrics covering Assessment, Reflection, Academic Language, Planning, and Instruction). The purpose of this study was to examine what teacher candidates made visible about their practices and understandings of the teaching and learning process in constructing their performance assessments. This study was designed to examine the kinds of teaching practices teacher candidates utilized in the classroom, specifically examining how candidates who scored highest on certain PACT rubrics (in the domains of Assessment, Reflection, and Academic Language) planned instructional supports, assessed, and reflected in ways significantly different than those who scored lowest on PACT rubrics. For this study, the authors examined 12 performance assessments completed by preservice teachers from a Central Coast California Teacher Education Program. Although various types of assessments are required during this program, PACT offers the most comprehensive evidence of how teacher candidates engage in the practice of teaching and learning after having participated in a variety of teacher preparation courses and while completing their fieldwork. This study adds much to the literature on what performance assessments make visible about whether teacher candidates can engage in effective teaching practices and what elements of the teacher education program design need to be further revised and/or developed to strengthen preservice candidates' ability to plan engaging and effective lessons.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • [(“performance-based teacher assessment”) AND (“recruitment” OR “retention” OR “effectiveness”)]
  • [(“performance-based assessment”) AND (“preservice teachers” OR “teacher competency testing” OR “teacher certification”) AND (recruitment OR retention OR effectiveness)
  • [“competency-based teacher education” AND (recruitment OR retention OR effectiveness)]
  • motivations to enter alternative teacher certification programs
  • reasons to enter alternative teacher certification programs

Databases and Resources

We searched ERIC for relevant, peer-reviewed research references. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched the What Works Clearinghouse.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published from 2004 to present, were include in the search and review.
  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order; (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, and so forth), study duration, and so forth; and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by stakeholders in the Southwest Region (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest at AIR. This memorandum was prepared by REL Southwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-91990018C0002, administered by AIR. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.