Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

When the Teacher Is the Test Proctor

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

When the Teacher Is the Test Proctor

Article excerpt

This study investigates what grade-3 teachers say they would do if faced with common test administration dilemmas--and why. Grade-3 teachers with experience administering Ontario's provincially mandated assessment were recruited through professional association newsletters and Toronto-area newspapers. They responded to an on-line questionnaire (n = 98) or an hour-long interview (n = 40). Many teachers predicted that they would not follow the test administration instructions. Their rationales included (a) supporting the students to do their best work, (b) ensuring a positive testing experience for the students, and (c) maintaining their pedagogical routines and their relationships with the students. The findings highlight the ethical dilemmas teachers may experience when proctoring tests.

Key words: large-scale assessment, standardized testing, test administration, Ontario education

Les auteures analysent ce que des enseignants de 3e annee feraient selon eux s'ils etaient confrontes avec les dilemmes courants relies a l'administration de tests et les raisons pour lesquelles ils agiraient ainsi. Des enseignants de 3e annee habitues a faire passer des tests provinciaux en Ontario ont ete recrutes par le biais d'annonces dans des bulletins d'associations professionnelles et des journaux de la region de Toronto. Ils ont repondu a un questionnaire en ligne (n = 98) ou participe a une entrevue d'une heure (n = 40) ; pres de 80 % des enseignants dans les deux groupes provenaient de la Region du Grand Toronto. De nombreux enseignants ont indique qu'ils ne suivraient pas les directives au sujet de l'administration des tests parce qu'ils veulent, entre autres : (a) aider les eleves a faire de leur mieux, (b) faire en sorte que les eleves aient une experience positive des tests et (c) suivre leurs methodes pedagogiques habituelles et conserver leurs liens avec les eleves. Les conclusions des auteures mettent en evidence les dilemmes ethiques auxquels les enseignants peuvent faire face lorsqu'ils surveillent l'administration de tests.

Mots cles : tests communs, tests normalises, administration de tests, education en Ontario.

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In many jurisdictions, elementary teachers not only prepare their students to take large-scale assessments, but also administer the assessments to their students. Much has been written about what teachers should and should not do to prepare their students to take large-scale assessments (e.g., Cohen & Hyman, 1991; Crocker, 2006; Haladyna, Nolen, & Hass, 1991; Mehrens, 1991; Mehrens & Kaminski, 1989; Mehrens, Popham, & Ryan, 1998; Popham, 1991). Less has been written about test administration, perhaps because what teachers should do in administering large-scale assessments is thought to be both unambiguous and uninteresting--to strictly follow the test administration instructions provided by the test developer. Not surprisingly, most research on test administration has focused on detecting deviations from the instructions (e.g., Cizek, 1999, 2003). The reasons teachers choose to follow--or not to follow --the instructions have received little attention.

This study investigates what teachers predict they would do if faced with common test administration dilemmas--and why. The study involved grade-3 teachers with experience administering Ontario's provincially mandated assessment, who were recruited through professional association newsletters or Toronto-area newspapers. Almost 100 responded to an on-line questionnaire and 40 took part in an hour-long interview; almost 80 per cent of both groups were from the greater Toronto area. Of particular interest were the rationales given by those teachers who said they would not follow the test administration instructions.

WHY DOES TEST ADMINISTRATION MATTER?

Research studies have found that how tests are administered affects the results. For example, in a study by Flynn and Anderson (1976), economically disadvantaged grade-7 students in California scored significantly higher on an arithmetic test when the instructions were delivered warmly than when the instructions were delivered perfunctorily. …

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