Secondary Teachers' Conceptions and Practices of Assessment Models: The Case for Mathematics Teachers in Jordan

Article excerpt

Introduction

In his paper, assessment crisis, Stiggins (2002) argues the side effects of the standardized testing ideology that is dominating the accountability and schools improvement in United States. He asserted the fact that another huge segment of student population (who cannot met the standardized test requirements), when confronted with an even tougher challenge than the one that it has already been failing at, will not redouble its efforts--a point that most people are missing. He warns that these students will see both the new high standards and the demand for higher test scores as unattainable for them, and they will give up in hopelessness.

Stiggins's paper was a call to the assessment shift from assessment of learning that is represented by the standardized test ideology to the assessment for learning. The effect of assessment for learning, as it plays out in the classroom, is that students keep learning and remain confident that they can continue to learn at productive levels if they keep trying to learn. In other words, students don't give up in frustration or hopelessness.

Despite the widespread research base and numerous articles advocating the use of formative assessment (Andrade & Cizek, 2010; Borko, 2004; Goedhart & Hoogstraten, 1992; Reeves, 2007) or the calls for the shifts from assessment of learning (AOL) to both assessment for learning (AFL) and assessment as learning (AAL) practices in teachers' classrooms, actual adoption and use of such strategies lags considerably behind what is being promoted nationally and internationally. This fact presents a pressing need to answer what, how, and why needed to move this agenda ahead. To do that our efforts should involve knowledge of the content of AFL and AAL, an approach to professional development that supports teachers' adoption and use of such ideas, and teachers making sense of how to enact both AFL and AAL ideas in their classrooms (Thompson & William, 2007; Lamb & Tschillard, 2005).

One of the primary causes for these discrepancies may be due to variations in what is interpreted as formative assessment or assessment for learning and whether it represents a comprehensive integrated approach to classroom assessment in a degree it becomes part of the day to day teaching and learning practices.

Assessment for learning occurs throughout the learning process. It is designed to make each student's understanding very obvious in a way it enables teachers to properly decide what they can do to help students progress. In assessment for learning, teachers use assessment as an investigative tool to find out as much as they can about what their students know and can do, and what confusions, preconceptions, or gaps they might have. So, the AFL is a continuous research into the student's actions to figure out the achievement gaps in his performance, and this what makes the AFL more comprehensive than the usual formative assessment practices which lack the involvement of the student in the assessment process.

The AFL strategies were presented as a comprehensive and integrated approach stressing student involvement in the assessment process (Stiggins, Arter, Chappius & Chappius, 2006; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman & Yoon, 2001; Wei, Darling-Hammond, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009). In addition to developing an understanding of assessment and its relationship to student motivation, the AFL strategies focused on clarifying learning targets, rubric development, providing effective feedback, student self-monitoring and self-assessment, goal setting, effective questioning and discussion, and the use of data to plan and adjust instruction and meet individual student needs.

Assessment as learning AAL focuses on students and engages them in the assessment process in a more active way, and emphasizes assessment as a process of metacognition (knowledge of one's own thought processes) for students. …