Teacher Education

Understanding the PPAT Assessment: A Beginner’s Guide

Understanding the PPAT Assessment: A Beginner’s Guide

How do you know that a teacher candidate is ready to take on the classroom? 

One answer is the PPAT assessment: an online portfolio that measures teacher candidates’ abilities and readiness to teach. 

The PPAT assessment was developed by ETS and includes both formative and summative components. ETS has put together an incredible handbook with in-depth information on everything you need to know about the assessment. But if 57 pages are too much and you’d just like a broad overview, we’ve got you covered.

We’re outlining the PPAT assessment process and the main components below. 

The PPAT Assessment Process

As found in the handbook, The PPAT assessment has four tasks:

Task 1: Knowledge of Students and the Learning Environment

Task 1 is about culturally responsive pedagogy—learning more about students, their families, and the school environment. 

Task 2: Assessment and Data Collection to Measure and Inform Student Learning

Task 2 is all about using data and assessments to measure and inform student learning. 

Task 3: Designing Instruction for Student Learning

Task 3 requires candidates to demonstrate their skills in lesson planning, instructional design, and technology incorporation. 

Task 4: Implementing and Analyzing Instruction to Promote Student Learning

Task 4 is proof that candidates can apply the first 3 tasks. This task also requires candidates to adjust instruction and demonstrate an understanding of reflective practice. 

Each task has a number of steps and requires candidates to submit evidence. Evidence should demonstrate skill proficiency and include written commentary, instructional artifacts, and a video in Task 4. 

Written Commentary

The PPAT assessment tasks encourage three kinds of writing: descriptive, analytical, and reflective. Candidates must use these styles of writing to explain everything that took place in a lesson. 

The PPAT handbook suggests that written responses:

  • Answer everything asked
  • Clearly demonstrate to the raters that candidates have a thorough understanding of each guiding prompt
  • Explain key thoughts and ideas
  • Are reviewed for completeness and quality

Encourage your candidates to review written responses in the Library of Examples to see what strong writing looks like and understand what’s expected. As a mentor, you should not review, edit, or score candidates’ work. Instead, provide feedback by asking questions to help candidates understand what they’re aiming to accomplish. 

Instructional Artifacts

In addition to some form of written response, tasks require other types of evidence or artifacts. Artifacts may include a lesson plan, rubric, scoring guide, anecdotal notes from students, or student work samples. 

Have your candidates outline the types of evidence required for each task. As they choose artifacts, remind them that each artifact should connect, support, and enhance the written commentary. When discussing artifacts, candidates should not identify themselves, their students, their colleagues, or their school. Instead, they should refer to students as “student 1” and places as “my school”. 


A 15-minute video is required to pass the PPAT assessment. Videos should show how you interact with students, create a positive learning environment, and engage students in learning. The video is an artifact—the evidence or proof of what’s written in your commentary. 

Candidates can only upload one video file, which may include either one continuous fifteen-minute segment or three separate five-minute segments. Because the video should represent an authentic view of your classroom, videos should not be edited in any way. 

To help your candidates get comfortable on camera and reflect on their teaching practice, have them film several practice videos. GoReact is the best way to help students feel comfortable in front of the camera. With just a webcam or smartphone, candidates can video themselves and self-reflect on their performance with ease. By utilizing GoReact, candidates won’t be left scrambling for videos at the last minute. They’ll have an entire library of GoReact video clips by the time Task 4 is due. 

Don’t forget to remind your candidates to obtain ETS permission forms early in the semester. Although it may seem inconvenient, candidates need parent/guardian permission before they can begin filming in the classroom. 

Understanding the PPAT Assessment: A Beginner’s Guide Share on X

By mastering the basics, you’ll be able to better prepare your candidates to pass the PPAT assessment. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what the PPAT assessment entails, including the written commentary, instructional artifacts, and video portion.

For more information, check out the PPAT handbook for candidates and educators or visit the ETS website.