Scale measures teacher confidence in developing standards-aligned classroom assessments

iStock_000018618557XSmallMost states have standards that serve as guidelines for what students should be learning at each grade level. But, unless teachers believe that standards are reasonable and usable and unless they feel comfortable and confident in their understanding of those standards, it is unlikely that classroom assessments will be successfully aligned with statewide learning standards, say the authors of a recent study in Educational and Psychological Measurement. This article reports on a scale that could guide efforts to train teachers in aligning classroom assessments with standards.

Study: “Validation of Scores From a Measure of Teachers’ Efficacy Toward Standards-Aligned Classroom Assessment”, by Edward Wolfe, Steven Viger, et al. Educational and Psychological Measurement, June 2007, Volume 67, Number 3, pp. 460-474.

Conclusion: A program evaluation developed as part of a professional development program (Standards-Aligned Classroom Initiative in Illinois) could be used as a scale to identify teachers’ familiarity with and attitudes towards state standards, the authors report. The scale could be used to identify issues that need to be addressed in training teachers to use standards for developing classroom assessments and to gauge the impact of any training activities.

Method:Since 1992, the authors, a writing specialist and English educator and a literacy assessment developer for a national reform coalition, have analyzed and criticized Kentucky’s portfolio systems and studied its impact on schools, English departments, teachers and students.

Main research question: Does the Teacher Assessment Efficacy Scale (TAES) provide a valid measure of teacher efficacy in developing standards-aligned classroom assessments?

Participants:642 Illinois teachers who participated in a program conducted by the Standards-Aligned Classroom Initiative

Method:Teachers completed a 42-item questionnaire that was designed to assess teachers’ attitudes towards learning standards. The scale measured six domains:

  1. Confidence–teachers’ confidence in using the state standards as a basis for creating assessments;
  2. Impact–teachers’ beliefs about whether using the standards benefits instruction;
  3. Use–whether teachers plan to use the standards as a basis for assessments
  4. Utility–whether teachers believe using the standards for assessments is productive and useful;
  5. Experiences–teachers’ familiarity with the standards; and
  6. Students–teachers’ beliefs about the benefits of including students in process of developing standards-aligned assessments
  • An important hurdle in helping teachers in their efforts to create standards-aligned classroom assessments is building their confidence and comfort level with standards. 
  • Professional development activities can give teachers a better understanding of standards and train them in aligning classroom assessments with those standards. 
  • A scale of teacher efficacy can help gauge teachers’ level of comfort with this task before and after professional development activities.

Findings: The study found that it is useful to differentiate teacher attitudes toward educational standards with the six domains listed above.

Other observations from the study:

  • Professional development activities on developing standards-based assessments resulted in larges increases in TAES scores.
  • Because this scale was developed to be consistent with the Illinois state standards, validity and generalization would have to be conducted to support wider use of the instrument.
  • The scale could be used to guide efforts to develop teacher competence in creating standards-aligned assessments and to refine professional development programs by indicating which areas of the assessment alignment process are most problematic.

From Assessment for Learning: 12 recent studies on formative assessment and aligning assessments with learning goals, published by Educational Research Newsletter August 2007

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