Changing Assessment Practices of Teaching Candidates and Variables that Facilitate that Change

Oct. 01, 2014

Source: Action in Teacher Education, Volume 36, Issue 5-6, p. 406–420, 2014.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study explores changes over time in assessment strategies and identifies variables that facilitate that change by examining assessment practices of secondary teacher candidates enrolled in a one-year postbaccalaureate teacher education program that prepares candidates for teaching in rural and urban settings in Alaska.

This mixed- method study uses multiple data sources drawn directly from candidates’ fieldwork performances and teacher education program experiences.
Data collection included (1) observations of classrooms, (2) collections of learning units and lesson plans, (3) student reflections on teaching and planning, and (4) candidate interviews about assessment practices.
The participants were 11 middle and high school mathematics and science teacher candidates placed in rural and urban schools, enrolled in a postbaccalaureate teacher certification program between the years 2009 and 2012.

Discussion and Conclusion

There was a change in emphasis and range of assessment strategies between the first and second semester of the teacher education program.
The extent of change varied between rural and urban candidates indicating a need for more attention to the specifics of rural education.
The variables that changed candidates’ emphasis and range of assessment strategies the most included mentor teachers, field experiences inclusive of unit planning, and the university coursework.
Thus, collaboration among and between the administration in local schools, mentors, and university faculty is essential.

The findings on change over time demonstrate that the development of assessment literacy takes time, guidance, and support.
Candidates shifted their assessment strategies toward the use of a greater variety of assessments away from a multiple-choice written quiz/test format.
They discovered that curriculum and assessment strategies must incorporate the students’ life experiences and cultures to create interest and meaningful learning experiences.
The candidates noted the prominence of accountability testing in schools and that the interpretation of standardized testing and the use of statistical methods were not adequately addressed in teacher education programs.


The results of this study on changes over time and variables that guide such change add to the greater understanding of what influences teacher candidates’ learning of assessment practices in rural and urban settings.
This knowledge is important for guiding teachers’ progress toward effectiveness and classroom readiness.
Teacher preparation needs to focus on assessment literacy but must also include literacy in statistics.

Methods courses may be especially suitable for integrated and subject area specific assessment.
In addition, education faculty and mentor teachers should engage candidates in rethinking their beliefs about the purpose of assessment.
Mentor teachers were identified by this study as the most important variable for candidates’ changes in assessment literacy.
Therefore, teacher education programs should carefully select mentors with a critical look at their assessment practices.

Teacher candidates need opportunities to work with experienced teachers who model an inquiry stance toward their own practices and who make learning theory come alive with real learners.
This study found that detailed feedback to the candidates as well as skillful modeling during their field experiences can promote the development of assessment practices that inform teaching and support learning in the sociocultural context of the schools.

Updated: May. 04, 2015


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