A Training Project to Develop Teachers' Assessment Literacy

A Training Project to Develop Teachers' Assessment Literacy

Jiyoon Lee (University of Maryland – Baltimore County, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6986-2.ch004

Abstract

While every stakeholder in education is concerned with assessment in one way or another, it is undeniable that the teachers play pivotal roles in assessment. Teachers are involved in developing and administering the classroom-based or high-stakes assessment, analyzing and using the assessment results for their instruction, and communicating the results with other stakeholders including students and parents. However, research studies documented that pre-service teachers do not receive enough education to develop their assessment literacy. This chapter described a pedagogical project that pre-service ESOL teachers engaged to improve their language assessment literacy (LAL). Based on the definitions of LAL discussed in the chapter and test-usefulness framework, the author developed a pedagogical project where pre-service ESOL teachers developed and critique their assessment practices.
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Introduction

Assessment plays a critical role in the learning and teaching cycle. Assessment provides information about teaching effectiveness and the qualitative and quantitative changes in learners, which education stakeholders would use to 1) make decisions on course materials, teaching approaches, or students’ advancement, 2) enhance teaching and learning experiences and 3) support learning. We witness the ever-increasing attention to assessment for accountability purposes in P – 12 settings and the broadening assessment’s role from “assessment of learning” to “assessment for learning” (e.g., Assessment Reform Group, 2002; Fulcher, 2012).

The accountability discourse in P – 12 education in North America draws more attention to the roles that assessment plays (DeLuca & Klinger, 2010). Policy makers have used assessment as a lever to reform education. From their perspective, assessment is an effective tool that can directly influence teachers’ performance in class, which, they believe, directly leads to students’ better performance (Fulcher, 2012; McNamara, 2008). Assessment’s role in supporting learning has also increased. Ground-breaking findings in Black and William’s (1998) research on the impact of formative assessments on learning has increased attention to classroom-based and formative assessment. While every stakeholder in education is concerned with assessment in one way or another, it is undeniable that the teachers are the pivotal factor in assessment. Teachers’ engagement in assessment procedures is not limited to one stage of learning and teaching. They are involved in developing and administering classroom-based or high-stakes assessment, analyzing and using the assessment results for their instruction, and communicating the results with other stakeholders including students and parents (e.g., Vogt & Tsagari, 2014). Research studies showed that assessment-related tasks were major tasks on which teachers spend time. They revealed that teachers spent at least one third of their instructional time for assessment-related tasks; however, most teachers suffer from a lack of competency in assessment (Stiggins, 2007) indicating a need for a higher level of teachers’ competency in assessment.

Despite the significance of assessment in the learning and teaching cycle and teachers’ thorough involvement in assessment, research has documented teachers’ limited competency in assessment. This chapter starts with the following four critical questions regarding ESOL teachers’ competency in assessment:

  • Question 1: What is assessment literacy? What is language assessment literacy?

  • Question 2: Why does teachers’ assessment literacy matter? Why does assessment literacy matter to ESOL teachers?

  • Question 3: What is the status of teachers’ assessment literacy?

  • Question 4: What education do teachers receive regarding assessment literacy?

This chapter describes a pedagogical project that ESOL Preservice Teachers (EPSTs)1 engaged in to improve competencies in language assessment. The project was developed based on the language assessment competencies defined in the following sections. Using the test-usefulness framework proposed by Bachman and Palmer (2002), the project included test-development and critique activities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Assessment of Learning: Assessment of learning refers to the assessment-related tasks that come at the end of instruction for the purpose of measuring learners’ attainment. Summative assessment is an example of assessment of learning.

Pre-Service Teachers: Pre-service teachers are those who are in a teacher-education program in order to pursue teaching credentials in public schools or private sectors domestically or internationally.

Education Stakeholders: Education stakeholders refer to those who may engage in any education-related activities. Students, teachers, parents, school administrators, education policymakers, and scholars in education are examples.

Positivist Perspective: Positivists perspective refers to a philosophical foundation of a research perspective. Its main premise is to test theories and gather evidence regarding the theories.

Constructs: Constructs are traits, skills, or concepts that are targeted in assessment.

Interpretive Perspective: Interpretive perspective refers to a philosophical foundation of a research perspective. Its main premise is to study the meaning co-constructed among participants of the oral and written communications.

Assessment for Learning: Assessment for learning refers to the assessment-related tasks that are on-going for the purpose of enhancing teaching as well as supporting learning. Informal and formal observation, performance assessment, feedback, and questions are examples.

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