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An investigation into the relationships among middle school teachers' beliefs about collaboration, their perceptions of formative assessment, and selected teacher characteristics

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Liz R Baynard
Abstract:
The purpose of this descriptive study is to examine the relationships among middle school teachers' beliefs about collaboration, their rationale for using common formative assessments, and selected teacher characteristics that might help explain these beliefs and rationale. Previous research separately shows that collaboration and formative assessment practices each influence higher student achievement. Previous research also suggests that these practices are underused and usually not connected programmatically. This study aims to understand the gap between research supported education theory and classroom teaching practices. A parallel mixed methods design that merges interview data and survey data was used for this study. Seventy-six middle school teachers from two middle schools were purposefully selected to complete an online survey about teacher characteristics, collaboration, and common formative assessments. The school sites were selected because they have a mandate that requires teachers to use common formative assessments and to collaborate regularly in professional learning communities (PLCs), thereby ensuring that the participants have experience with the practices being examined. The findings indicate that teachers believe collaboration benefits instruction and assessment informs instruction. The findings suggest that age might play a role in the relationship between teacher beliefs and assessment. They also suggest that the degree to which teachers get along with each other influences the success of a collaborative group and that collaboration is not limited to structured meetings.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page List of Tables……………………………………………………………………………iv List of Figures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .v Abstract................................................................................................................………vi Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 1 Chapter 1 .......................................................................................................................…4 Purpose ..................................................................................................................7 Rationale ...............................................................................................................8 Emphasis of assessment and collaboration in the standards ...............................11 Assessment and collaboration in science ............................................................12 Assessment and collaboration in English and reading ........................................14 Assessment and collaboration in social studies ..................................................15 National attention on assessment and collaboration ...........................................16 Assessment and collaboration in schools ............................................................19 Identifying a mutually beneficial situation .........................................................20 Definitions...........................................................................................................22 Chapter 2 .........................................................................................................................23 Collaboration.......................................................................................................24 Benefits of Collaboration ....................................................................................25 Sharing ................................................................................................................25 Outputs ................................................................................................................27 Environmental Factors Relating to Collaboration ..............................................29 Factors that encourage collaboration ..................................................................29 Factors that discourage collaboration .................................................................31 Time ....................................................................................................................31 Tradition ..............................................................................................................32 School culture and teacher attitudes ...................................................................33 Assessment ..........................................................................................................35 Diagnostic assessment ........................................................................................35 Formative assessment .........................................................................................36 Feedback .............................................................................................................37 Frequency of assessment.....................................................................................39 Grading practices ................................................................................................40 Formative Assessment Examples .......................................................................40 Formative Assessment Benefits ..........................................................................42 Factors Related to Formative Assessment ..........................................................43

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Outside factors that encourage formative assessment ........................................43 Barriers ................................................................................................................44 Consistency in implementation ...........................................................................46 Beliefs and Values about Formative Assessment ...............................................47 Negative views of assessment .............................................................................48 Common Formative Assessment ........................................................................49 Benefits ...............................................................................................................50 Reflective teaching..............................................................................................51 Student strengths and weaknesses ......................................................................51 Dividing the workload ........................................................................................52 Chapter 3 .........................................................................................................................56 Study Setting and Participants ............................................................................59 Study Variables ...................................................................................................63 Collaboration beliefs and practices .....................................................................63 Assessment ..........................................................................................................64 Teacher background characteristics ....................................................................65 Research Design..................................................................................................66 Instruments ..........................................................................................................68 BPCCFA Survey .................................................................................................68 Teacher background characteristics ....................................................................69 Collaboration beliefs and practices .....................................................................70 Assessment ..........................................................................................................72 Semi-structured interview ...................................................................................75 Teacher background characteristics ....................................................................75 Collaboration beliefs and practices .....................................................................75 Assessment ..........................................................................................................76 Data Collection Procedures .................................................................................77 BPCCFA Survey .................................................................................................77 Semi-structured interview ...................................................................................79 Data Analysis Procedures ...................................................................................80 Chapter 4 .........................................................................................................................84 Qualitative Results ..............................................................................................85 Descriptive statistics ...........................................................................................85 AF, TPCFA, TCB, TCP analysis results...........................................................101 Pre-analysis data screening ...............................................................................102 Exploratory factor analysis ...............................................................................106 Rotated component matrix ................................................................................111 Independent samples t-test ................................................................................113 Analysis of variance ..........................................................................................114 Factor scores .....................................................................................................119 Qualitative Results ............................................................................................121 Interview selection ............................................................................................121 Data results........................................................................................................123

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Qualitative Themes ...........................................................................................135 Procedural .........................................................................................................135 People ................................................................................................................138 Conceptual ........................................................................................................139 Inside the classroom ..........................................................................................141 Mixed Methods Parallel Analysis of the Quantitative and Qualitative Findings ...........................................................................................................................144 Summary of Research Findings ........................................................................147 Chapter 5 .......................................................................................................................149 Quantitative Discussion ....................................................................................149 TBC as they relate to each component .............................................................151 Discussion .........................................................................................................154 Research questions revisited .............................................................................156 Teacher values about sharing ............................................................................156 Teachers‘ values about assessment ...................................................................159 Sharing improves instruction and TBC .............................................................161 Assessment informs instruction and TBC.........................................................164 Uncorroborated codes .......................................................................................165 Struggling students............................................................................................166 Concerns ...........................................................................................................166 Personal teaching style ......................................................................................167 Time ..................................................................................................................167 Implications for Practice ...................................................................................168 Implications for Future Research ......................................................................171 Limitations ........................................................................................................172 Appendix A: Survey. . . .……..……………………………………………………… 175 Appendix B: Interview Protocol………………………………………………………182 List of References..……………………………………………………………………184

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LIST OF TABLES

Table Page 1. Collaboration Beliefs and Practices Instruments .......................................................71 2. Assessment Factors and Perceptions Instruments......................................................74 3. Proposed Analysis of Collaboration and Common Formative Assessment ..............83 4. KMO and Bartlett‘s Test .........................................................................................103 5. Anti-Image Matrix ...................................................................................................105 6. Initial Eigenvalues ...................................................................................................108 7. Rotated Component Matrix......................................................................................112 8. Descriptives by Age Group for Assessment Informs Instruction ............................115 9. Multiple Comparisons Assessment Informs Instruction ..........................................117 10. Means for Age Group on Factor Scores ................................................................120 11. Teacher Background Characteristics Represented in Interviews ...........................122 12. Open Codes Identified for this Study…………………………………………… 124 13. Characteristic Evidence of Codes for Interviews ……………………………… .127 14. Themes identified in the interviews………………………………………………133 15. Frequency of Axial Codes…………………………………………………… .…145

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page 1. Relationships Examined...........................................................................…………..58 2. Age demographic information on the survey participants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 3. Subject taught by the survey participants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 4. Years of teaching experience of the survey participants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89 5. Survey responses regarding statements about common assessment, PLC procedures, and teacher opinions relating to PLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 6. Survey responses regarding benefits of using common assessment. . . . . . . . . . . . . .92 7. Survey responses regarding teacher preference for working in isolation on common assessments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 8. Survey responses regarding teacher participation in PLC meetings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 9. Survey responses regarding teacher knowledge of department-wide policies. . . . . . 96 10. Survey responses regarding uses of PLC meeting time. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 11. Survey responses regarding co-designing assessments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 12. Survey responses regarding sharing data. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 13. Survey responses regarding making instructional decisions based on data. . . . . . . 100 14. Scree Plot of Eigenvalues for survey data. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 15. The merging of the original factors with the components identified in the exploratory factor analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .153

ABSTRACT

AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE RELATIONSHIPS AMONG MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS‘ BELIEFS ABOUT COLLABORATION, THEIR PERCEPTIONS OF FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT, AND SELECTED TEACHER CHARACTERISTICS

Liz R. Baynard, Ph.D

George Mason University, 2011

Dissertation Director: Dr. Erin Peters Burton

The purpose of this descriptive study is to examine the relationships among middle school teachers‘ beliefs about collaboration, their rationale for using common formative assessments, and selected teacher characteristics that might help explain these beliefs and rationale. Previous research separately shows that collaboration and formative assessment practices each influence higher student achievement. Previous research also suggests that these practices are underused and usually not connected programmatically. This study aims to understand the gap between research supported education theory and classroom teaching practices. A parallel mixed methods design that merges interview data and survey data was used for this study. Seventy-six middle school teachers from two middle schools were purposefully selected to complete an online survey about teacher characteristics, collaboration, and common formative assessments. The school sites were selected because they have a mandate that requires teachers to use common formative assessments and to collaborate regularly in professional learning communities

(PLCs), thereby ensuring that the participants have experience with the practices being examined. The findings indicate that teachers believe collaboration benefits instruction and assessment informs instruction. The findings suggest that age might play a role in the relationship between teacher beliefs and assessment. They also suggest that the degree to which teachers get along with each other influences the success of a collaborative group and that collaboration is not limited to structured meetings.

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PREFACE

Based on eight years of working in K-12 schools I have observed Professional Learning Communities (PLC) content teachers working collaboratively to improve student learning through reflection on instruction and learning, in two conditions: (a) implemented as successful collaborative groups and (b) implemented as punitive, unsupportive groups. In the case where professional learning communities have been implemented successfully, all teachers supported each other by sharing materials, lesson plans, and assessments, and by co-creating classroom materials. In the case where professional learning communities have been implemented unsuccessfully, teachers often felt threatened by their colleagues and did not support one another; teachers only focused on the achievement of their individual students. Two distinct experiences at the same school with two different PLCs exemplify the differences between a collaborative, successful PLC and a punitive, unsuccessful PLC. As a member of a productive science PLC, I recall working with my PLC team to design activities around a newly available piece of technology. The PLC leader announced at a meeting that we now had wikis available and we were challenged to figure out a way to use them in the classroom. We spent the meeting working on ideas together and developed a wiki vocabulary tool for all of our students to use.

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This positive PLC experience contrasts vividly a negative PLC event experienced several years earlier while I was working with a different group of people. During my first year teaching mathematics, I worked with an unproductive, punitive PLC. While attending a mathematics PLC meeting I was asked to share my students‘ scores on a recent assessment. After sharing my scores my PLC leader told me that I had to work harder to get my scores up, and when I requested some of her materials she avoided sharing her resources with me and redirected all the responsibility toward me. These two incidents capture only two examples, but the cases speak to the overall tone of all the respective PLC meetings. The mathematics PLC was punitive, and not helpful to daily teaching, while the science PLC was collaborative and helpful to daily teaching. The perception of the administration was that both PLCs were highly productive because the overt actions observed by the administrators looked the same with both PLCs: common assessments were given and PLCs met regularly. However, as I learned during several individual meetings with the school principal, the administration was unaware of the two very different processes that the groups enacted which resulted in the same observable outcomes. The view of the administration was obscured because of their limited engagement with the actual daily events of the PLC; administrators rarely attended PLC meetings and rarely asked for feedback from PLC members. And, it is the experience that is significant to the teacher, not the end result; therefore I think the process teachers experience needs to be investigated further so that it can be determined what makes PLCs significant to teachers. It is important to disentangle collaboration beliefs, collaboration practices, assessment values, assessment beliefs, and perceptions of

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common formative assessment uses so that the embedded processes and experiences can be determined and understood.

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CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this study was to describe teachers‘ beliefs and practices of peer collaboration and their opinion of using common formative assessment (teachers working together to design and administer assessments). Collaboration in the context of this paper is defined as educators working together to raise the achievement of all students (Clement & Vandenberghe, 2000). Common assessment is of national importance because 4.35 billion dollars of federal funding of the ―Race to the Top Program of 2009‖ (Race to the Top) has been made available to the states in an effort to reform state and local K-12 education. Race to the Top applicants are awarded funding based on selection criteria that include implementing common standards, transitioning to high-quality assessments, and designing and implementing common assessments (U.S. Department of Education, 2010b). Additional emphasis on common assessments is evident in the congressional act, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), more commonly referred to as ―The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,‖ which carries with it $24.4 billion dollars in federal funds available to states that implement assessments at specific grade levels that show student improvement over the year (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). Assessment, as defined by Popham (2003), refers to any activity designed to uncover covert abilities, skills, or knowledge using an overt action. The terms test and assessment are used interchangeably in the assessment community (Popham, 2003), but

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this study will use the term assessment. Assessment activities can be formal measures of student learning, such as written tests, or assessments can be informal measures of student learning, such as teacher questioning of individual students and student groups or observations of individual students and student groups. Most assessments fall into two categories, summative and formative. Summative assessment refers to an assessment of learning that occurs after instruction and is often used to grade, rank, or hold students accountable (Popham, 2003). Formative assessment differs from summative assessment in purpose and implementation with the purpose to inform instruction and implementation occurring during instruction. The term formative assessment was first used by Michael Scriven (1967) and was defined as a method for enabling teachers to make timely instructional decisions using student data. Formative assessment can involve formal and informal methods for collecting student data. Any opportunity for a student to demonstrate learning, such as observations, performance tasks, portfolios, science laboratory activities, and paper/pencil tests, can be used as a formative assessment if teachers and students then make decisions based on the data from the assessment (Popham, 2003). The intent of formative assessments is not to assign grades, but to provide information to students and teachers during instruction. The idea that formative assessment forms instruction and informs students and teachers is generally agreed upon in the literature (e.g., Ainsworth & Viegut, 2006; Bell & Cowie, 2001; Black & William, 1998; Fisher & Frey, 2007; Popham, 2003; Reeves, 2007). Formative assessment enables teachers to make timely and data-based instructional decisions that ensure individual student learning needs are

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met. One variation on formative assessment is common formative assessment. The term common formative assessment is defined by Larry Ainsworth and Donald Viegut in Common Formative Assessments (Ainsworth & Viegut, 2006). Common formative assessments are frequent, collaborative, moldable, and responsive assessments designed by teachers who work collaboratively to help a group of students develop agreed upon knowledge and skills. A critical element of common formative assessment is the collaborative work in which teachers engage. The idea of collaboration is often operationalized in schools through professional learning communities (PLCs). Professional learning communities are structured in a similar way to the communities of practice discussed by Wenger (1998). Wenger argues that learning communities encourage professional growth because members bond over common purpose and use their developed personal relationships to strengthen their professional growth (Wenger, 1998). One purpose of the PLC is to develop assessments all members of the group give simultaneously to their students and then return to a follow-up meeting to discuss results and future instruction. Collaboration is defined and explained in the research on Professional Learning Communities by DuFour, Eaker, and DuFour (2006) in Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work. DuFour, Eaker, and DuFour (2006) describe a professional learning community as collaborative learning among colleagues used in schools as a way to organize teachers into working groups. Collaboration is often facilitated through participation in PLCs. As explained by Reynolds (2009), PLCs allow for frequent interaction among colleagues across all levels of experience which allows

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teachers to maintain a sense of shared responsibility for the success of all students involved, not just for the ones in their own classrooms. Collaboration in the context of this paper refers to working with colleagues to reach a consensus on the knowledge and skills necessary for the success of a shared group of students (DuFour et al., 2006). This research describes how teacher background characteristics might explain relationships among collaboration beliefs, collaboration practices, assessment factors, and perceptions of common formative assessment use. Collaboration beliefs and practices include the aspects of sharing, outputs, and productivity. Common formative assessment aspects include ideas such as evaluating teaching, diagnosing students‘ strengths and weaknesses, implementing new instructional strategies, and dividing the workload. It has been established in the literature that teachers who use formative assessment, collaboration, and common formative assessment implement instruction that results in improved student learning (Ainsworth & Viegut, 2006; Black & Wiliam, 1998; Fuchs & Fuchs, 1986; Fontana & Fernandes, 1994; Graham, 2007). It has also been found that although productive, teachers rarely use collaboration, formative assessment and common formative assessment practices (Cizek, Fitzgerald, & Rachor, 1996; Forbes, 2007; Graham, 2007; Maclellan, 2001; McNair, Bhargava, Adams, Edgerton, & Kypros, 2003). This study explored the relationships among collaboration beliefs, collaboration practices, assessment factors, and perceptions of assessment use in order to understand the role selected teacher characteristics played in these relationships. Purpose

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The purpose of this study was to explore teacher beliefs, rationale and characteristics. This mixed methods parallel design, also known as concurrent design, merged both qualitative and quantitative data to better understand teacher collaboration practices, teacher collaboration perceptions, assessment factors, and teacher perceptions of common formative assessment as they relate to teacher background characteristics (TBC). The school sites selected for this study have been implementing common formative assessments for five years. Both school sites have been recognized by the education community as models of professional learning communities, as evidenced by, district and state requests to observe the schools‘ PLC in action, and by the national presentations both principals have made on this topic. The literature suggests that both collaboration and common formative assessment are not highly practiced (Cizek, Fitzgerald, & Rachor, 1996; Forbes, 2007; Graham, 2007; Maclellan, 2001; McNair, Bhargava, Adams, Edgerton, & Kypros, 2003), and the examination of the beliefs of teachers about common formative assessment at the chosen sites provides an opportunity for specific information. Ainsworth and Viegut (2006) argue that formative assessments are most powerful when they are designed, implemented, and analyzed collaboratively, often within a PLC. They and DuFour further argue that the critical link between formative assessment and common formative assessment is collaboration. This study seeks to describe the relationships among selected teacher background characteristics, collaboration practices, collaboration beliefs, perceptions of common formative assessment use, and aspects of common formative assessment that are valued by the teachers. Rationale

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The ―No Child Left Behind Act of 2001‖ (NCLB) and ―Race to the Top Program of 2009‖ are evidence of the growing movement in education to encourage teachers to use assessment. Assessment is the expectation of administrators and PLCs were often used by school districts as a means to compose assessments. . These movements have led administrators and school district leaders to devote significant time to the implementation of PLCs. NCLB is federal legislation introduced by President George W. Bush in 2001 that sets high standards and measurable goals by enacting a standards-based education model. NCLB brings the idea of the education achievement gap to the forefront. The achievement gap refers to the observed disparity among student subgroups on performance in school, generally divided by race, ethnicity and gender. A critical component of this legislation requires states to create and administer basic assessments to all students at specific grade levels. This emphasis on assessment as a tool for accountability has increased the pressure on individual schools and teachers to collect data throughout the year so that they can prepare students for the state accountability tests. There is increased emphasis on individual accountability as a result of NCLB and the self-authored assessments many teachers use to monitor their students‘ progress in a standards-based curriculum serve to address the need for accountability. The Race to the Top Fund is an incentive program designed to instigate reforms in K-12 education in four areas (U.S. Department of Education, 2010b):

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 Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;  Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;  Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and  Turning around our lowest-achieving schools. All states are eligible to apply for Race to the Top funding with awards being given to the states with the most achievable and ambitious plans for reform. State applications for funding are scored on a 500 point scale, with 70 points devoted to standards and assessment. The specific criteria evaluated relating to standards and assessment include: developing and adopting common standards; supporting the transition to enhanced standards and high-quality assessments; and, developing and implementing common, high-quality assessments. Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Race to the Top resulted in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Tennessee being awarded funding (U.S. Department of Education, 2010a). The emphasis on adopting common standards paves the way for collaboration because the consensus about what to teach is mandated for the teachers and establishes a common goal. The Common Core Standards Initiative is a state-led effort facilitated by the National Governor‘s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School

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Officers (CCSSO) (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted common core standards, with Oregon most recently adopting common core standards October 29, 2010 (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010). If teachers are addressing the same content across classrooms then it becomes more natural and efficient to share ideas because they are working with the same material. The drive to develop high quality assessments encourages formative assessment in classrooms because teachers need to know how their students are performing prior to the end-of-the- year summative assessments. Emphasis of assessment and collaboration in the standards. Each of the governing associations for the core content areas advocates for assessment of some type as seen in the National Science Education Standards (NSES), the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) standards, and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). Each organization includes both standards for content and standards for assessment. In addition to addressing content and assessment, each of the content areas includes suggestions on collaboration. Even though the publications from the governing organizations devote significantly less attention to collaboration than they do to assessment, at least by addressing collaboration a clear message of value is sent. National Science Education Standards were established by the National Research Council (NRC) in 1996 and provide an overview of the guiding research-based principles in

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science education. Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (2000) are guidelines authored by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics that outline recommendations that ensure that all students receive the highest quality mathematics teaching. The National Council of Teachers of English in collaboration with the International Reading Association (IRA) developed standards devoted to supporting the teaching and learning of English and language arts. In 1991, IRA and NCTE collaborated to describe standards for assessment in Standards for the Assessment of Reading and Writing (1994). The National Council for the Social Studies in 1994 developed curriculum standards, Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (1996). The associations for education practitioners in each of the content areas communicate the importance of assessment and collaboration by including assessment and collaboration recommendations in their publications as discussed below. Assessment and collaboration in science. The National Science Education Standards (1996) advocate for assessments that are formative and summative. The National Science Education Standards (1996) include a description of the purpose of assessments that emphasizes that assessments should communicate information about teaching and learning to students, educators, parents, and external stakeholders. The NSES emphasize the use of feedback as a means for enabling change at all levels, Assessment data provide students with feedback on how well they are meeting the expectations of their teachers and parents, teachers with feedback on how well their students are learning, districts with feedback on the effectiveness of their

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teachers and programs, and policy makers with feedback on how well policies are working (p.76, 1996). Additionally, the NSES insist that students learn from assessments. The assessment process outlined in the standards includes four components: data use, data collection, methods to collect data, and users of data. The term ―data use‖ includes using data to plan for teaching, allocate resources, and assign grades. Data collection is identified for the purpose of describing and quantifying student achievement, teacher preparation, and program instruments. Methods to collect data include paper/pencil testing, interviews, portfolios, and performance observation. Users of data consist of teachers, students, parents, policy makers, and administrators. These four components can be merged in different ways to meet the needs of varying populations. For example, teachers use student data collected during an observation to design teaching practices. Even without directly stating that formative assessment should be included in science curriculum the standards convey the message by including components accepted as part of formative assessment, such as using assessment data to change instructional plans. The National Science Education Standards (1996) encourage collaboration in Chapter 3: Science Teaching Standards. Teaching Standard A includes ―work together as colleagues within and across disciplines and grade levels‖ (p.30, 1996). The standards emphasis that collective planning is critical to successful teaching and the teachers should use colleagues as a resource. Assessment and collaboration in mathematics. The mathematics education community emphasizes aspects of formative assessment in their standards. The NCTM

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standards include a section on assessment, articulating that ―assessment should support the learning of important mathematics and furnish useful information to both teachers and students‖ (NCTM, 1989). The NCTM stance on assessment advocates for assessments that move learning forward and occur during instruction. NCTM standards articulate that assessment should guide teachers and students to make instructional decisions based on student learning. Mathematics assessment data should focus on understanding and can be collected through questions, interviews, writing tasks, and observations. By advocating for assessments that provide information to students and teachers, NCTM is addressing an important component of formative assessment: data should be used to inform instruction. The NCTM (1989) standards explicitly describe the benefits of collaboration, “collaborating with others--pairing an experienced teacher with a new teacher or forming a community of teachers--to observe, analyze, and discuss teaching and students' thinking is a powerful, yet neglected, form of professional development‖ (p. 89, 1989). Assessment and collaboration in English and reading. Standards for the Assessment of Reading and Writing (1994) include guidelines for creating assessments that are designed to improve the achievement of all students and to measure student progress toward national education standards. Portfolio assessments, project based assessments, and performance tasks are provided as models of credible evidence for English and language arts student data. The language arts and reading standards support formative assessment by describing assessments as a means for collecting evidence about student knowledge and minimize the use of assessments to rank students. Standards for

Full document contains 202 pages
Abstract: The purpose of this descriptive study is to examine the relationships among middle school teachers' beliefs about collaboration, their rationale for using common formative assessments, and selected teacher characteristics that might help explain these beliefs and rationale. Previous research separately shows that collaboration and formative assessment practices each influence higher student achievement. Previous research also suggests that these practices are underused and usually not connected programmatically. This study aims to understand the gap between research supported education theory and classroom teaching practices. A parallel mixed methods design that merges interview data and survey data was used for this study. Seventy-six middle school teachers from two middle schools were purposefully selected to complete an online survey about teacher characteristics, collaboration, and common formative assessments. The school sites were selected because they have a mandate that requires teachers to use common formative assessments and to collaborate regularly in professional learning communities (PLCs), thereby ensuring that the participants have experience with the practices being examined. The findings indicate that teachers believe collaboration benefits instruction and assessment informs instruction. The findings suggest that age might play a role in the relationship between teacher beliefs and assessment. They also suggest that the degree to which teachers get along with each other influences the success of a collaborative group and that collaboration is not limited to structured meetings.