Teacher capacity and assessment reform: Assumptions of *policy, realities of practice
An aspect of the standards movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s was a focus on assessment that dominated all levels of formal education. Policy makers attempted to influence educational reform through the adoption of standards that were used to drive curriculum and assessment decisions. Concurrently, other advocates for assessment reform criticized the reliance on standardized testing as a measure of student achievement and proposed the use of other methods to capture student performance. Expanded use of classroom assessment was also encouraged.
Unexamined assumptions about teaching and learning underlie assessment reform efforts; this leads to proposed reforms that serve different ends with little shared understanding of assessment purposes or desired outcomes across populations. Using a qualitative design, this research examined how teachers interpret and enact assessment reform given the unexamined assumptions and contradictions that beset reform efforts. Observation, interviews and document collection formed the bulk of the data. Data were collected and analyzed from individual teachers, administrators, and teacher committees. The analysis utilized the concept of teacher capacity in order to examine both individual and collective responses to reform implementation.
Currently, the educational policies of most states link standards, curriculum and assessment in an attempt to control all aspects of the educational enterprise. The research findings indicate that use of this hyperrationalized approach adversely affects individual and collective teacher capacity and can constrict or eliminate practitioners' individual and collective attempts at creativity and innovation.
0288: Educational evaluation