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Student assessment: An exploratory mixed methods study of teachers' perceptions and resulting practices

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Kathy J Grover
Abstract:
Federal and state accountability requirements have raised the stakes on student achievement testing. Teachers' perceptions of accountability testing influence classroom instruction (Wiliam, 2005). Teacher instruction greatly impacts student learning (Schmoker, 2006). This mixed method study examined teachers' perceptions of assessment and instruction. Analysis of data from case studies of three classroom teachers revealed three themes relating to assessment and instruction. The themes were further investigated by means of a Likert survey. The case study and survey methodologies provided descriptive data of teachers' beliefs regarding the value of various assessment types, the influence of different types of assessment on teaching practice, and the usefulness of various assessments as indicators of student learning. The results indicated that while teachers recognize the importance of preparing students for high-stakes testing, they value and depend on teacher observations and results of teacher-created assessments to measure student learning and inform instruction. A call for educational leaders to understand, communicate, and educate others regarding the value of formative and summative assessment was made. Interview data revealed a need for training of pre-service teachers and sustained training of in-service teachers in the analysis of assessment data, implementation of research-based instructional strategies, methods of differentiating instruction in the classroom, and effective use of teaching resources.

TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES............................................ix LIST OF FIGURES............................................x CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION.................................1 Background............................................1 Theoretical Framework.................................7 Statement of the Problem..............................9 Purpose of the Study............................10 Research Questions..............................11 Limitations..........................................12 Design Controls......................................13 Definitions of Key Terms.............................14 Summary..............................................16 CHAPTER TWO - REVIEW OF LITERATURE........................18 Introduction.........................................18 Assessment Theory....................................18 Accountability and Student Achievement...............23 Federal Accountability Requirements..................24 State Accountability Requirements....................25 Summative Assessment.................................26 Formative Assessment.................................28 Research-Based Instructional Strategies..............32 Teacher Support......................................36 Summary..............................................39 CHAPTER THREE - METHODS...................................41 Introduction.........................................41 Research Questions...................................42

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Population and Sample................................43 Case Study Design....................................44 Survey Design........................................45 Rationale for Mixed Method Research..................47 Study Design.........................................48 Data Analysis........................................50 Credibility and Consistency..........................51 Researcher's Biases and Assumptions..................53 Summary..............................................54 CHAPTER FOUR - RESULTS....................................55 Introduction.........................................55 Organization of the Chapter..........................57 Phase I: Qualitative Case Studies....................58 Participants and Demographics...................58 Mrs. Tracy......................................59 Mr. Daniels.....................................60 Mr. Johnson.....................................62 Case Study Protocol.............................62 Interviews......................................63 Documents.......................................63 Process of Analysis.............................64 Themes..........................................64 Phase II: Quantitative Survey........................65 Online Survey Population........................65 Rationale for Survey............................65 Themes..........................................66 Value of Assessments............................66

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Influence of Assessment on Practice.............71 Assessment as Indicator of Learning.............77 Summary..............................................80 CHAPTER FIVE - DISCUSSION.................................82 Introduction.........................................82 Summary of the Findings..............................84 Limitations of the Study.............................91 Conclusions..........................................92 Theme One.......................................92 Theme Two.......................................93 Theme Three ....................................93 Recommendations for Future Research..................94 Implications for Practice............................96 Summary..............................................97 REFERENCES................................................99 APPENDIX A...............................................109 Letter of Introduction..............................110 APPENDIX B...............................................111 Interview Questions.................................112 APPENDIX C...............................................113 Letter of Informed Consent..........................114 Informed Consent Form...............................116 APPENDIX D...............................................117 List of Data Codes..................................118 APPENDIX E...............................................119 School Documents....................................120 APPENDIX F...............................................121

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Perceptions and Practices Survey....................122 APPENDIX G...............................................123 Notice of Final Oral Presentation...................124 VITA.....................................................125

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LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Demographics: Participants' School Districts....59

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x LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 Assessments valued..............................70 Figure 2 Assessments not valued..........................71 Figure 3 Assessment influences instruction...............76 Figure 4 Assessment does not influence instruction.......77 Figure 5 Assessment as indicator of learning.............79 Figure 6 Assessment not indicator of learning............80

CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION Background In the last decade, educators were faced with increased accountability for student learning. Not only has the level of achievement for which they are being held accountable risen, but the entities requiring an accounting have also multiplied. The federal law No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has mandated standards for which states and schools are accountable (United States Department of Education [DOE], 2008b). This accountability has trickled down to classroom teachers, affecting their perceptions and practices. According to the DOE (2004b), "Schools are responsible for making sure your child is learning" (¶ 4). In addition, NCLB holds each state and school accountable for student learning through annual student achievement assessments. Although the stated purpose of NCLB was to ensure student learning with achievement assessments intended to merely hold schools accountable (DOE, 2008b), comparison of district scores gleaned from NCLB required assessments have been misused causing improper conclusions to be drawn (Popham, 2001; Reeves, 2002; Schmoker, 2006; Wiliam, 2005). In reference to accountability assessments Popham (2001) reported: This ranking system allowed parents to quickly see how their child’s school stacked up against other schools.

Perception and Practice 2 And because most educators had previously accepted the idea that scores on standardized achievement tests indicated the effectiveness of educational programs, the press soon billed these annual rankings as reflections of educational quality.... These rankings invariably lead to judgments about which educators are doing good jobs and which are doing bad jobs. And because citizens believe that high scores signify successful instruction, the annual rankings place enormous pressure on teachers to improve their students’ scores on statewide tests. (pp. 10-11) Under this enormous pressure, instructional decisions are being made based on the prior year’s assessment results (Popham, 2001; Reeves, 2002; Wiliam, 2005). Wiliam reported teachers lament, "I'd love to teach for deep understanding, but I have to raise my students' test scores” (¶ 1). Wiliam concluded that teachers do not believe that raising test scores can be achieved through teaching for deep understanding. However, in a decade of study Wiliam found that when teachers assessed students to support learning achievement increased (¶ 2). Wiliam stated, “The results to date suggest that teachers don’t have to choose [between raising test scores and teaching for deep understanding] - the best way to improve students’ test scores is to teach well” (¶ 9).

Perception and Practice 3 Student assessment is usually divided into two categories, formative and summative. Fisher and Frey (2007) explained: Formative assessments are ongoing assessments, reviews, and observations in a classroom. Teachers use formative assessment to improve instructional methods and provide student feedback throughout the teaching and learning process. Summative assessments are typically used to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional programs and services at the end of an academic year or at a pre-determined time. The goal of summative assessments is to judge student competency after an instructional phase is complete. (p. 4) Wiliam’s (2005) assessment for learning falls into the formative assessment category, while annual accountability tests fall into the summative assessment category. Popham (2001) posited that summative standardized assessments are the preferred assessment type for high-stakes tests, such as those required by NCLB, because the tests are prepared by experts, are therefore believed to be valid and reliable, and are ready to administer. Many effective methods of formative assessment require teachers’ resources, time, and knowledge of effective assessment practices (Popham, 2001). Teachers must (a) determine the essential objectives to be assessed, (b) select the method of assessment, (c) develop the assessment and scoring instrument, (d) administer the assessment, (e)

Perception and Practice 4 score the assessment, (f) analyze the assessment results, (g) provide student feedback, (h) reflect on strategies to improve results, and, finally, (i) implement those strategies intended to increase student achievement (Chappius, S., Stiggins, Arter, & Chappius, J., 2005). Informal assessment through teacher observation appears to take less time than written forms, but the same purposeful planning, implementation, reflection, and analysis should occur. Of course, written forms require the teacher to take time to script at least an assessment and scoring instrument (Earl, 2003; Popham, 2001). If not purposefully analyzed, these forms of assessment may serve only to give a snapshot of what students know and can do. With purposeful analysis, formative assessment results can prescribe the next steps of instruction (Schmoker, 2006). Stiggins, Arter, Chappius, J. and Chappius, S. asserted, "Used with skill, assessment can motivate the unmotivated, restore the desire to learn, and encourage students to keep learning, and it can actually create - not simply measure - increased achievement" (2006, p. 3). The purpose of this type of assessment is to inform instruction, or provide information that will help in planning future instruction, in order to increase individual student achievement through differentiation of instruction and assessment (Stiggins et al.). Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock (2001) found that corrective, timely, and criterion-specific feedback is one

Perception and Practice 5 of the top nine strategies employed by teachers to improve student achievement. Using formative assessment throughout a unit of study reveals a student's level of understanding to the teacher. Formative assessment meeting Marzano et al.’s (2001) feedback criteria, which is that the feedback is corrective, timely and criterion-specific, reveals the teacher's expectation to students, and also allows teachers to make informed instructional adjustments. This teaching and learning process allows teachers to check student learning without waiting for a summative assessment to reveal students' misunderstandings (Fisher & Frey, 2007). Sagor (2003) pointed out that the perception of an external locus of control has negative effects on the potency of teacher efforts. Sagor posited that the perception of assessment as an outside requirement placed on teachers and students, as in the case of most high-stakes tests, robbed teachers of a sense of efficacy. However, when assessment was perceived as a tool in the process of teaching and learning, locus of control was returned to teachers, resulting in practices that increased student achievement (Sagor). Sagor recommended teachers attend to careful lesson planning; monitor the lesson for success, or use formative assessment; adjust instruction as needed to meet particular student needs; use other more explicit forms of formative assessment throughout teaching an objective; and record the results of the effort. When teachers focused

Perception and Practice 6 on behaviors they could control, assessment was perceived as a useful tool instead of a threat (Sagor). Neesom (2000) found in her report on behalf of the Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA) that Great Britain’s teachers “feel that there are ‘mixed messages’ about assessment and that there is more pressure on summative assessment than support for formative assessment” (p. 6). Neesom’s report also called for educational policy makers to officially and explicitly recognize the role of formative assessment in a standards-driven system. Teachers were confused about the difference between formative and summative assessment and how to implement formative assessment in addition to other myriad responsibilities (Neesom). This confusion and misunderstanding spurred Neesom to include a call for training in formative assessment for all of Great Britain’s educators (Neesom). Fisher and Frey (2007) cited the Bloom and Broder (1950) study which showed that formative assessment, or "checking for understanding" (p. 1), ensures students’ true understanding of content and skills embedded in the lesson objective. Fisher and Frey claimed that formative assessment also exposes students to a variety of learning strategies, thereby increasing student understanding. NCLB placed the responsibility for student learning on public schools (DOE, 2004b). In the public school system, classroom teachers stand at the front line of that responsibility. Teachers’ perceptions and beliefs regarding

Perception and Practice 7 the teaching and learning process impact students every day. What are the perceptions of today’s teachers regarding student assessment and their instructional practice? The Bloom and Broder study reported the benefits of formative instruction in 1950 (Fisher & Frey, 2007). Fifty years later Neesom’s (2000) QCA report called for training in formative assessment for Great Britain’s educators. What are teachers’ perceptions and practices regarding assessment nine years later? Do educators have a common understanding of assessment? Do teachers understand the potential benefits of formative assessment? How are teachers using assessment to improve student achievement? In spite of years of research these questions are pertinent today. Theoretical Framework Assessment theorists agree that instruction and assessment are cyclical in nature (Gardner, 2006; Nicol, 2007; Popham, 2001). According to Erwin (1991), assessment theory is: ... the systematic basis for making inferences about the learning and development of students. More specifically, assessment is the process of defining, selecting, designing, collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and using information to increase students' learning and development. (p. 15) Understanding the purpose of assessment is critical when analyzing results. Sometimes assessment results are used to make a point for which the assessment is not suited.

Perception and Practice 8 Popham (2001) asserts that high-stakes achievement tests are not designed to inform instruction. According to Marzano et al.’s (2001) findings, high-stakes achievement test results are not available soon enough to provide meaningful feedback to students, and specific feedback is rarely given to a student regarding his or her results on high-stakes achievement tests. Researchers agreed that the primary purpose of high-stakes tests is to determine the quality of curriculum and programs not to inform educators of the level of individual student achievement (Fisher & Frey, 2007; Popham, 2001; Wiliam, 2005). Popham (2001) declared the primary purpose of classroom testing is to collect information about student learning. Student responses to classroom assessments allow teachers to choose more effective instructional strategies, thereby increasing the likelihood of student understanding (Popham). To improve student achievement, analysis of classroom assessment results is more suitable than analysis of high- stakes test results. Classroom assessment data can be analyzed rapidly, feedback given to students quickly, and adjustments made to instruction immediately (Popham). Popham (2001) suggested four guiding principles, which naturally align with assessment theory, for assessment to increase instructional effectiveness and student achievement within the classroom. These four guiding principles provided a framework for considering the quality of assessment which classroom teachers may encounter. They are: (a) test only

Perception and Practice 9 indisputably important learner outcomes and formally test infrequently; (b) use a variety of assessment methods to pinpoint characteristics of learner outcomes; (c) use student responses to assessments to inform future instruction; and (d) use affective assessment to make group- focused inferences for instruction (Popham). While high-stakes testing fits into Popham's (2001) assessment framework, high-stakes tests are to be administered infrequently and should assess only standards identified as essential. If teachers' perceptions regard high-stakes tests above other forms of assessment, the use of other forms of quality assessment may be underplayed. Regular classroom assessment to monitor student learning to inform instruction and thereby increase student achievement may be left unused. Statement of the Problem Assessment of student learning takes many forms and is accomplished at various times during the learning process. For optimum increases in student achievement, student work is analyzed and used to plan future instruction in a timely fashion (Marzano et al., 2001). With the current focus on high-stakes testing, classroom teachers may perceive high- stakes tests results as more valuable than formative assessment results of student work when making instructional decisions (Black & Wiliam, 1998; Popham, 2001). Educators often lose sight of their primary purpose, to facilitate student learning. Conversations among teachers

Perception and Practice 10 become focused on defending or maligning accountability tools, the negative effects of accountability, how to target accountability measures (Reeves, 2002), and how to best teach test-taking strategies rather than how to best teach the skills and content of the standards being tested. With funding, accreditation, and school's reputations depending on accountability measures, how can educators remain focused on their primary purpose? The problem to explore is the impact of high-stakes accountability on teachers’ perceptions of student assessment and instructional practice. Purpose of the Study NCLB mandates that student achievement is assessed annually in communication arts and mathematics in grades three through eight and once in high school, and science achievement is to be assessed once in each of three grade spans (Simon, 2004). Wiliam (2005) discovered that although teachers desire to teach for deep student understanding, teachers believe a majority of instructional time must be spent preparing students for federally-mandated assessments. Wiliam found that teacher time was more effectively used analyzing students' work and making instructional adjustments based on that analysis than directly focusing on preparing for a test. Focusing on students, centering concern on what and how they are learning, and adjusting instruction each day are pathways to achieving desirable expectations (Black, 1998; Black & Wiliam, 1998; Popham,

Perception and Practice 11 2001). Given these findings, it is important to gauge teachers' perceptions of assessment and how those perceptions impact teaching practices, which in turn impact student achievement. As a result, the purpose of this study was to determine teachers' perceptions of student assessment and how those perceptions impact teaching practices. Research Questions The dynamic nature of qualitative research requires the researcher to be flexible in the process of developing research questions (Marshall & Rossman, 2006). During the initial review of related literature for this study, the need for teachers to prioritize classroom formative assessment to inform instruction became apparent. Although teacher concerns about accountability were briefly commented on in the literature, the link between teachers’ perceptions of assessment and resulting instructional practices was given little attention. The overarching questions guiding this study were developed to understand the link between teachers’ perceptions of student assessment and teaching practices: 1. What is the link between student assessment and teaching practices of teachers? 2. What do teachers consider when making initial instructional decisions? 3. What do teachers consider when making instructional revisions?

Perception and Practice 12 4. What are teachers' perceptions regarding student assessment? 5. How can teachers optimize student assessment to improve teaching practices? Limitations Mixed methods research, or research done by analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data, has not always been viewed as legitimate research (Cresswell, 2008). However, in the last few decades as researchers debated the merits of mixed methods research procedures for the design have been developed and the design has become more acceptable (Creswell). In the case of this study, the people interviewed were selected to fit a particular profile for specific purposes of the study, and the people surveyed in order to strengthen the investigation were from the same state. In addition, response to the survey was voluntary which could indicate that respondents had greater experience, knowledge or interest in the topic than did non- respondents, thereby skewing the results. Therefore, it should not be attempted to generalize the results of this study. This study will be limited by the following factors: 1. The collection of data was limited to one academic semester. 2. The location of the study was a Midwest state.

Perception and Practice 13 3. The online survey data was limited to the respondents who chose to complete and submit the survey. 4. The researcher relied on all respondents to answer all questions thoughtfully and honestly. 5. Researcher bias was monitored by the committee of educational advisors. Design Controls Bryman (n.d.) noted: Triangulation refers to the use of more than one approach to the investigation of a research question in order to enhance confidence in the ensuing findings.... The term triangulation derives from surveying, where it refers to the use of a series of triangles to map out an area. (¶ 1) For the purposes of this study, an online, anonymous Likert scale survey was offered to eighty-two thousand, eight hundred eighty-five public school educators (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education [MODESE], 2009a) in a Midwest state. In addition, three public school fifth grade teachers from the same state were interviewed using open questions. This between-method triangulation of research involved the use of more than one research method to check the level of agreement between the two sets of resulting data (Bryman, n.d.). The qualitative interview data and the quantitative survey data were analyzed

Perception and Practice 14 separately and then together to draw conclusions and determine implications. The emergent research design in which the data is analyzed in an ongoing manner allowing findings to inform the next steps of the research is common in qualitative research, however non-emergent qualitative designs in which the data is first collected and then analyzed using qualitative methods also reveals important findings (Maykut & Morehouse, 2005). For purposes of this study, the non- emergent method was used with the minor exception of additional questions that evolved during interviews. Anonymity of all participants was ensured in order to elicit honest responses. Following the collection and review of qualitative data from teacher interviews, an online survey was developed based on themes that emerged from the review of that data. The survey was made available to teachers state-wide in an effort to lead to "generalizable results through the. . . quantitative data" (Creswell, 2008). Once again, anonymity of participants was ensured to elicit honest responses on the survey. Definitions of Key Terms The definitions of key terms of this study are provided: Assessment as learning. Assessment used to inform an individual student of his or her own level of understanding (Black, 1998; Earl, 2003).

Perception and Practice 15 Assessment for learning. Formative assessment activities used by teachers to collect information to modify instruction in order to meet student needs (Black & Wiliam, 1998). Assessment of learning. A summative evaluation of a student’s progress or achievement (Black & Wiliam, 1998). End of Course Exams. The End of Course (EOC) Exams are mandated standardized norm and criterion-referenced tests given to all Missouri high school students upon the completion of Algebra I, Biology I and English II (MODESE, 2008b). Enduring Understanding. The term enduring refers to the big ideas, or the important understandings, that we want students to ‘get inside of’ and retain after they've forgotten many of the details. Put differently, the enduring understandings provide a larger purpose for learning the targeted content: They implicitly answer the question, Why is this topic worth studying? (McTighe & Wiggins, 1999, ¶ 4). Essential Standards. The concepts identified by national content area organizations as the most important to student achievement and occurring most often on state standardized tests (O'Shea, 2005). Open Question. Questions requiring the respondent to give an answer that requires more than simple recall of facts. Open questions may have more than one correct answer

Perception and Practice 16 and often require a description, explanation or justification. Scoring guides must be developed in order to consistently score open questions. Response to Intervention. Response to Intervention (RtI) is a new and highly-effective approach to help identify students at risk for learning disabilities and work with all students to ensure their educational success (National Center for Learning Disabilities [NCLD], 2007). Summary Teachers have been assessing students for many years. United States public school teachers now have the added pressure of high accountability for their students' achievement levels on annual high-stakes tests (DOE, 2008b). This turn of events in American education has redirected the focus of educators from meeting the instructional needs of students to concern about preparing students for annual high-stakes tests (Popham, 2001; Wiliam, 2005). Over many years researchers called educators to view assessment through the lens of student learning rather than the lens of high test scores (Neesom, 2000; Reeves, 2002). Instead of assessment evoking images of students sitting over test booklets for hours, assessment would bring to mind teachers and students investigating, reflecting and collaborating to improve student learning based on the results of formative assessments. This study sought to reveal the current state of teachers’ perceptions of student

Perception and Practice 17 assessment and how those perceptions influenced their instructional practices. In Chapter Two, a review of literature related to schools’ accountability for student learning, types and purposes of student assessment, assessment best practices, resulting instructional practices and calls for professional support was presented. A description of the research design and methodology used to analyze findings was explained in Chapter Three. Qualitative and quantitative data and research findings were shared in Chapter Four. In Chapter Five, conclusions and recommendations for action and further study were shared.

Perception and Practice 18

CHAPTER TWO - REVIEW OF LITERATURE Introduction Schmoker (2006) declared, “... the single greatest determinant of learning is not socioeconomic factors or funding levels. It is instruction. A bone-deep, institutional acknowledgment of this fact continues to elude us" (p. 7). Linking assessment to instruction, Schmoker continued, “For the majority of lessons, no evidence exists by which a teacher could gauge or report on how well students are learning essential standards" (p. 16). Schmoker denied that this was discouraging information; rather he concluded that with a change in perception educators could take “immediate productive action" (p. 16) by improving instruction and providing ongoing assessment of student learning. In an era of high-stakes accountability this is good news indeed. A review of literature is presented in this chapter beginning with a discussion of assessment theory, followed by current accountability requirements. Two categories of assessment are then examined with details of the types of assessment that fit into each. Strategies for classroom instruction based upon assessment results and recommended professional support for educators follow. Assessment Theory According to Erwin (1991), assessment theory is:

Perception and Practice 19 ... the systematic basis for making inferences about the learning and development of students. More specifically, assessment is the process of defining, selecting, designing, collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and using information to increase students' learning and development. (p. 15) Popham (2003) expanded the understanding of assessment theory applied to the classroom by listing the types of decisions that testing can inform. They are: 1. Decisions about the nature and purpose of the curriculum. 2. Decisions about students’ prior knowledge. 3. Decisions about how long to teach something. 4. Decisions about the effectiveness of instruction. (pp. 5-6) Clearly, these decisions complete the teaching-learning feedback loop that is the basis of formative assessment. Popham maintained that teachers made better instructional decisions when they properly used assessment results. In an earlier work, Popham (2001) suggested four guiding principles, which naturally align with assessment theory, for assessment to increase instructional effectiveness and student achievement within the classroom. These four guiding principles provided a framework for considering the quality of assessment which classroom teachers may encounter. They are: (a) test only indisputably important learner outcomes and formally test infrequently;

Perception and Practice 20 (b) use a variety of assessment methods to pinpoint characteristics of learner outcomes; (c) use student responses to assessments to inform future instruction; and (d) use affective assessment to make group-focused inferences for instruction (Popham). Popham's (2001) first concern was the number of standards that teachers are expected to teach in a school year. There has been a call to limit the standards taught per year to those that are of greatest importance (Black & Wiliam, 1998; O’Shea, 2005; Popham, 2001; Popham, 2003; Reeves, 2000; Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Wiggins and McTighe (2005) called these most important concepts “enduring understandings" (p. 10). O’Shea (2005) refered to these concepts as “essential standards” (p. 58), and recommended identifying critical standards by consulting national subject area standards as well as determining the state standards tested most frequently or weighted most heavily. Popham agreed that national standards should inform the identification of indisputably important learner outcomes. Identifying these most important concepts narrows the target for assessment and allows for more in-depth instruction. The second assessment framework strategy recommended by Popham (2001) is to offer a variety of assessment methods. Gregory and Chapman (2002) supported the use of differentiated forms of assessment for students due to multiple learning styles and ability levels of students within a classroom. Similarly, Gregory and Chapman

Perception and Practice 21 identified a variety of purposes for assessment, which require different types of assessments. Beginning with pre- assessments to determine what students already know and are able to do, teachers may differentiate instruction and assessment for varying ability levels and learning styles within the classroom (Gregory & Chapman). During the instructional process, formative assessments are recommended to monitor student progress and inform future instruction (Gregory & Chapman, Popham). Once students have mastered the skill and/or concept, differentiated summative assessments are prepared to meet student’s individual learning styles and ability levels (Gregory & Chapman). Popham's (2001) third assessment framework principle involves using student assessment data to guide future instruction. Teachers’ perception of assessment was the focus of this research, therefore it was vital to focus primarily on the assessment practices that are most valuable to teachers. Popham (2001) posited that assessment literate teachers understand that the richest, most meaningful data for their purpose is formative assessment. Teachers have the responsibility of facilitating student learning. Students must begin their learning journey at their current level of understanding. Therefore, it is imperative that teachers identify the current level of understanding of their students on a continuing basis. Popham’s findings regarding assessment were not unique, other researchers have reported similar findings. The Bloom and Broder study of 1950 called

Perception and Practice 22 for formative assessment of students to inform instruction and remediation (Fisher & Frey, 2007). Black and Wiliam's (1998) ongoing work in assessment for learning presented the same research-based findings. Blythe, Allen and Powell (1999) acknowledged the importance of assessing student work and cited the following benefits of the practice: understanding each student's response to an assignment; defining levels for student performance in general; understanding one's own teaching and assessment practices; and, improving one's observation and interpretation skills. Popham’s (2001) fourth assessment framework strategy is often discussed by researchers but rarely implemented explicitly and with purpose in the classroom. This strategy addresses student affect (Popham). According to Gregory and Chapman (2002), students must believe they can learn, recognize the learning as useful to them personally, believe they belong in the classroom, and believe they have an important and active role in their own learning and behavior. Gregory and Chapman cited the research of leading psychology, brain, and education researchers Abraham Maslow, Eric Jensen and William Glasser respectively, regarding students' affective needs. Although the wording may change, each researcher found that students need to feel emotionally and physically safe; students need to believe they have the ability and opportunity to reach their goals and potential; students need to believe they are loved and accepted; and students need to believe they are able to celebrate and have

Full document contains 138 pages
Abstract: Federal and state accountability requirements have raised the stakes on student achievement testing. Teachers' perceptions of accountability testing influence classroom instruction (Wiliam, 2005). Teacher instruction greatly impacts student learning (Schmoker, 2006). This mixed method study examined teachers' perceptions of assessment and instruction. Analysis of data from case studies of three classroom teachers revealed three themes relating to assessment and instruction. The themes were further investigated by means of a Likert survey. The case study and survey methodologies provided descriptive data of teachers' beliefs regarding the value of various assessment types, the influence of different types of assessment on teaching practice, and the usefulness of various assessments as indicators of student learning. The results indicated that while teachers recognize the importance of preparing students for high-stakes testing, they value and depend on teacher observations and results of teacher-created assessments to measure student learning and inform instruction. A call for educational leaders to understand, communicate, and educate others regarding the value of formative and summative assessment was made. Interview data revealed a need for training of pre-service teachers and sustained training of in-service teachers in the analysis of assessment data, implementation of research-based instructional strategies, methods of differentiating instruction in the classroom, and effective use of teaching resources.