Academic journal article Education

Assessing Student Performance: A Descriptive Study of the Classroom Assessment Practices of Ohio Teachers

Academic journal article Education

Assessing Student Performance: A Descriptive Study of the Classroom Assessment Practices of Ohio Teachers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Assessment of student learning is a regular part of the school routine. A sizable amount of classroom time is devoted to the assessment of student learning. Since teachers must give even more time to the preparation and scoring of tests and other assessments, a substantial proportion of a teacher's day is devoted to issues surrounding student assessment. One could argue, then, that careful consideration of testing within formal teacher preparation programs is certainly warranted. If educators, particularly those in teacher preparation programs, are to help teachers use their student testing time efficiently and to be effective at it, more must be learned about how teachers perceive and use classroom tests and other forms of assessment (Gullickson, 1984).

For some time, there has been a perceived misalignment between what is taught to preservice teachers, in terms of assessment skills and techniques, and what inservice teachers actually practice in the schools (Farr & Griffin, 1973; Gullickson, 1986). Some have argued that measurement courses tend to overemphasize large-scale, standardized testing (Farr & Griffin, 1973; Stiggins & Bridgeford, 1985), as well as statistical analyses of classroom test data (Gullickson, 1986), neither of which serve teachers' primary measurement needs. It has been noted that teachers place much emphasis on non-test assessment and evaluation strategies (Gullickson, 1985). In his study, Gullickson (1984) reported that the average teacher did not perceive college measurement courses to be pertinent to his/her classroom testing needs and that most teachers learned how to test their students through their on-the-job experiences. We in higher education seem to have a limited understanding of the nature of assessment practices in K-12 classrooms (Stiggins & Bridgeford, 1985). From the perspective of the classroom teacher, this seems to imply a need for the reorientation of college instruction, with respect to measurement issues and concepts.

Several researchers have examined the traditional assessment practices of teachers and have arrived at somewhat similar conclusions. In their study, Stiggins and Bridgford (1985) discovered that about half of the teachers studied reported comfortable use of teacher-made objective tests. This finding held true across grade levels and subject areas. Marso (1985; 1987) arrived at the same conclusions for teachers in general, but did find several differences between elementary and secondary teachers. Secondary teachers tended to use more self-constructed tests rather than published tests; whereas, the opposite was true for elementary teachers, especially those in grades K-4. Similarly, others have found that the higher the grade level, the greater the tendency for teachers to use their own assessments (Stiggins & Bridgeford, 1985). Secondary teachers reported relatively more use of essay and problem-type items and less frequent use of completion and multiple-choice items than did elementary teachers (Marso, 1987). Marso (1985) also found that teachers perceived matching, multiple-choice, and completion type items as being most useful.

Marso & Pigge (1987) found no significant differences with respect to assessment practices based on school setting (urban, suburban, or rural) or age of teacher. However, subject area differences did exist. Teachers of mathematics reported more use of problem-type test items as compared to other subject areas, namely business, English, science, and social studies. Social studies teachers reported less frequent use of statistical analyses of test data, but more frequent use of essay items than did the other areas. Science teachers reported more frequent use of problem-type items than did English and social studies teachers. Similarly, Stiggins and Bridgeford (1985) found that teachers of mathematics and science tended to use their own objective tests slightly more that teachers of writing and speaking courses. …

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