To learn directly from teachers about the impact of literacy assessment in the classroom, in 2015 the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Assessment Task Force designed a five-question online survey, the Assessment Story Project.
A total of 530 teachers responded to the survey. The sample, while not statistically representative, included a wide range of teachers from elementary grades through college teaching in urban, suburban, and rural areas. We reviewed and analyzed the survey responses, looking for patterns both within and across educational levels. In all analyses, we found strong patterns representing the majority of responses, although, as we report in more detail later, there were also distinctive minority views.
Five main themes about writing and reading assessments emerged from the survey responses:
- Teachers are knowledgeable about assessment practices. They reported using many different methods and approaches to evaluate students’ work for both summative and formative purposes.
- Teachers value meaningful reading and writing assessment, which they define as assessment that supports teaching and learning.
- Teachers find that standardized, mandated reading and writing assessments are often not meaningful. A minority of respondents acknowledged the potential benefits that some standardized assessments could offer.
- Teachers and students experience high-stakes assessments as detrimental, in part because of their impact on student learning and in part because of the resources they divert from more useful activities.
- Teachers offered valuable insights about alternative approaches to assessment, both in the classroom and system-wide. From the responses, several principles emerged about what meaningful assessment should do, including engaging students in real-world tasks; employing tasks calling for students to be creative problem solvers; tapping classroom work that students are already engaged in, using “embedded” assessment; including students in presenting to others: administrators, parents, and community members; and providing for feedback that can be used during the school year by both teacher and students to support learning.
Released on August 23, 2016
A full report of the findings can be downloaded as a PDF or read in html format.
NCTE Assessment Task Force
Kathleen Blake Yancey, Florida State University
Scott Filkins, Central High School,Champaign, IL
Elizabeth Jaeger, University of Arizona (through October 2015)
Peggy O’Neill, Loyola University Maryland
Kathryn Mitchell Pierce, Saint Louis University
Lisa Scherff, Cypress Lake High School, FL
Franki Sibberson, Dublin City Schools, OH (joined October 2015)