Assessment of, for, and as Learning Within Schools: Implications for Transforming Classroom Practice

Winter 2010

Source: Action in Teacher Education, v. 31 no. 4, (Winter 2010) p. 66-75.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The current study explored teachers' and administrators understanding and use of “assessment of, for, and as learning”.

By studying educators' perspectives around assessment, the present study
gauges the general assessment competence of teachers and administrators in different grades and levels within the K-12 school system;
examines self-efficacy and the utilization of specific formative and summative assessment practices; and
identifies critical reasons that may account for the potential gap between assessment research and practice.
Deep understanding of these topics requires a qualitative approach that considers salient issues that affect teachers' and administrators' attitudes and beliefs about classroom assessment.


Participants The sample consisted of 18 administrators and 20 teachers from two school districts in southern Ontario, Canada.

Administrative experience ranged from 1 to 20 years. Teaching experience ranged from 2 to 27 years.
Educators were drawn from 24 schools: 15 elementary and 9 secondary. Sixteen participants were male and 22 were female. Furthermore, the teachers were drawn from a variety of elementary grades and subject areas at the secondary level.

The participants were interviewed with a semistructured format.
Employed in both elementary and secondary schools, participants were asked about their understanding and use of assessment of (summative), for (formative), and as (student metacognitive skills) learning.


One of the key findings from this study is that teachers in both panels tended to over-emphasize assessment of learning techniques- such as tests, quizzes, projects- whereas a minority used assessment for and as learning on a consistent basis.

The results suggest that administrators possessed a fairly rudimentary understanding of assessment for and as learning and, as a consequence, were not ideally positioned to provide a strong leadership role in these phases of assessment. When this finding is considered with the overall trend of teachers' underutilization of assessment for and as learning, the prospect of bringing significant changes in classroom practice is greatly diminished given the current assessment capacity within contemporary schools.

The current result definitely warrant a more sustained and targeted approach to building assessment capacity within schools and districts, particularly for experienced educators who have little training in newer self-assessment and peer assessment methods.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge facing administrators and teachers is that of changing the perspectives of students and their parent on the value of diverse form of assessment—particularly, formative approaches that do not translate into a mark for grading purpose (Stiggins, 2008).
Making all forms of data—formative and summative, classroom based and external-an integral component of school improvement will go a long way to promoting balance in the assessment approaches that teachers utilize.

Ultimately, governments, districts, and teacher educators need to find ways to broaden teachers' assessment practices and skills if student learning is to improve.
Stiggins, R. J. (2008). Student-involved assessment for learning (5th ed.). New Brunswick, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Updated: Jul. 26, 2011