Publications & Resources

Teachers’ Beliefs About Assessment and Instruction in Literacy

Mar 1997

Carribeth L. Bliem and Kathryn H. Davinroy

In a follow-up study to CSE/CRESST Technical Report 365, Carribeth Bliem and Kathryn Davinroy further investigated teachers’ beliefs about assessment and its connection to instruction in literacy. Most of the data were drawn from transcripts of biweekly meetings between the research team and third-grade teachers who had begun to use performance assessments in their classrooms. Assessments were primarily running records administered as children read aloud from an intact text and students written summaries of the stories that they read. The researchers found that teachers persistently held on to their beliefs that instruction and assessment are two very separate processes and that assessment was constrained by specific rules. For example, once the term “assessment” was connected to running records, teachers, bounded by traditional rules of fairness, chose to administer running records to all students, even though researchers suggested that running records might be most useful for diagnosing low-ability students. In another example of adherence to traditional beliefs about assessment, teachers perceived written summaries of student understanding as rubric-driven and rule-bound products and urged their students to follow specific sequential patterns in their summaries. In order to change teachers’ beliefs, concluded the researchers, it is necessary to identify and directly confront teacher beliefs. Additionally, “our study [also] highlights the need for teacher educators to make explicit the connections between instruction and assessment,” wrote Bliem and Davinroy.

Bliem, C. L., & Davinroy, K. H. (1997). Teachers’ beliefs about assessment and instruction in literacy (CSE Report 421). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).