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Teacher Performance Assessment

In California, all teacher candidates must complete a Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) in order to earn a preliminary credential.  The TPA requires candidates to complete defined tasks relating to subject-specific pedagogy, designing and implementing instruction and student assessment, and culminating teaching experiences or events. At Cal State San Marcos, teacher candidates complete the CalTPA, which consists of two instructional cycles (submissions) completed over the course of a credential program. CalTPA cycles are scored by trained assessors who are experts in the content for their assigned assessments. Candidates will submit CalTPA materials on or before the due dates set by the School of Education, and will receive their scores about three weeks later. Candidates must successfully complete and pass both CalTPA cycles in order to be recommended to receive a preliminary California teaching credential.


  • Candidates enrolled in a preliminary credential program receive support through their enrollment in the CalTPA support classes (EDUC 590A for Fall, and EDUC 590B for Spring).

    The CalTPA instructional cycles (Cycle 1 for the fall semester and Cycle 2 for the spring semester) are based on the pedagogical sequence of Plan, Teach and Assess, Reflect, and Apply:

    • Instructional Cycle 1 focuses on getting to know students' assets and needs and using that information for instructional planning. Candidates will be asked to demonstrate how they use knowledge of their students to craft instructional strategies to reach those students, including developing academic language instruction, implementing educational technology, monitoring student learning, and making appropriate accommodations and/or modifications during the teaching of a single lesson. In addition, candidates will demonstrate how they establish a positive learning environment and provide social and emotional support through interactions with students.
    • Instructional Cycle 2 focuses on crafting an assessment and instructional plan over a series of 3-5 lessons. In this instructional cycle candidates will use what they know about their students and learning context to plan and teach a learning segment (or mini-unit), providing feedback to students along the way. Candidates will use three primary types of assessment: 1) informal assessment—monitoring of student learning and adjusting instruction while teaching to maintain active engagement in learning; 2) student self-assessment—engaging students in reflecting on their own progress relative to set criteria; and 3) formal assessment—collecting and analyzing student assessment data gathered at the end of the learning segment, using that data to plan and modify further instruction. In addition, candidates must address students’ academic language needs and must integrate student use of technology into at least one lesson.

This page will continue to be updated as more information becomes available on the CalTPA.