Exploring the impact of teachers' participation in an assessment -standards alignment study
This study explored the impact of teachers' participation in an assessment standards alignment study as a way to gain a deeper understanding of an assessment, the underlying standards, and how these components relate to the participants' approach to instruction. Alignment research is one means to demonstrate the connection between assessment, standards, and instruction. If these components work together to deliver a consistent message about the topics about which students taught and assessed, students will have the opportunity to learn and demonstrate their acquired knowledge and skills.
Six participants applied Norman Webb's alignment methodology to understand the degree of alignment between an assessment, the Massachusetts Adult Proficiency Test for Math (MAPT for Math), and state standards, the Massachusetts Adult Basic Education Curriculum Framework for Mathematics and Numeracy (Math ABE standards). Through item-objective matches, alignment was examined in terms of categorical concurrence, depth-of-knowledge consistency, range of knowledge correspondence, and balance of representation. The study also used observations, discussions, open-response survey questions, and a focus group discussion to understand how the alignment process influenced the participants' view of the assessment, the standards, and their approach to instruction.
Results indicated that the MAPT for Math is well aligned to the Math ABE standards across three out of the four dimensions. Specific recommendations for improvements to the MAPT for Math and Math ABE standards are presented. The study also found that the alignment process influenced the participants' view of the standards, the assessment, and their approach to instruction. Additionally, the study highlighted ways to improve the alignment process to make the results more meaningful for teachers and test developers. This study indicated the value in ensuring an assessment is well aligned to the standards on which it is based.
Findings also showed the value added when teachers are involved in an in-depth examination of an assessment and the standards on which that assessment is based. Teachers are the conduit through which the next generation is guided. Thus it is critical that teachers understand what they are being asked to teach their students and how that can be assessed on a well designed assessment.