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Title:Understanding teachers' use of formative assessment practices during literacy
Author(s):Geoghegan, Cristin
Director of Research:McCarthey, Sarah J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McCarthey, Sarah J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Harris, Violet J.; Parsons, Marilyn A.; Greene, Jennifer C.
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):formative assessment
professional development
Abstract:The current testing climate emphasizes the need to collect data and monitor student growth. Teachers have a paramount role in the assessment practices within their classroom spaces. Through the use of qualitative methods, this study investigated elementary teachers’ understandings and use of formative assessment during the context of literacy instruction. I conducted in-depth observations and interviews to highlight the experiences and perspectives of my participants. The study is situated within a larger context in that the classroom teachers were participating in a district-wide professional development initiative on formative assessment. Gaining the perspective of past and current administrators to learn more about the goals and implementation of the professional development initiative was also an integral component to understand the historical context and larger, macro influences. Due to the paucity of research on how teachers use assessments to inform instruction, or on why they give particular assessments, this study focuses on teachers’ understandings of formative assessment and on how student learning was assessed during the context of literacy. In relation to the professional development initiative, this study brings to the forefront that organizational conditions were influential in teachers’ understandings and use of formative assessment. Rather than formative assessment being viewed as a process or “entwined with instruction and pedagogical processes,” (Shephard, 2005b, p. 24) the focus of the initiative became directed toward developing common (and interim) assessments. Exploring learning targets and standards were reported as a main focal area for teachers in their professional learning communities. Teachers in the study expressed that formative assessment should guide and improve their classroom instruction; however, their main uses of data were to complete progress reports, place students into ability groups, assist with parent-teacher conferences, and help with reteaching. While observing classroom practices, teachers were not always aware of the components of formative that they were using during literacy instruction. This study reinforces the need to create opportunities where teachers can engage in reflection and analysis of their assessment and instructional practices.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Cristin Geoghegan
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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