Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Berkeley Review of Education, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 35-61


Copyright 2010 Cochran-Smith et al.


There are many controversies related to the increasingly widespread theme of “social justice” in teacher education, including debates about whether and/or how promoting pupils’ learning is part of this theme. This article briefly discusses the concept of teacher education for social justice in terms of pupils’ learning and then considers this notion in terms of the current press to hold teacher education accountable for learning. The article then presents the results of the “Teacher Assessment/Pupil Learning” (TAPL) study, an analysis nested inside a larger qualitative study about learning to teach over time in a preparation program with a stated social justice agenda. The purpose of the TAPL analysis was to evaluate the outcomes of teacher education for social justice by assessing the intellectual quality of assessments created or used by teacher candidates during the student teaching period and also to assess the quality of their pupils’ responses to those assessments. The project used Newmann and Associates’ (1996) framework of “authentic intellectual work” and the scoring system that emerged from that framework because of their general consistency with the idea of social justice. Drawing on scored examples of teacher candidates’ assessments and pupils’ work samples, the article shows that many teacher candidates created cognitively complex and authentic learning opportunities for their pupils and that when pupils had more complex classroom assignments, they produced higher quality work. The article concludes that although it is complex, it is possible to construct teacher education assessments, such as the TAPL, that focus on pupil learning outcomes in ways that are consistent with social justice, especially preparation for a democratic society.