Publications & Resources

Teachers’ Assignments and Student Work: Opening a Window on Classroom Practice

Jul 2003

Lindsay Clare Matsumura and Jenny Pascal

In this report, four years of CRESST’s research is described developing indicators of classroom practice that have the potential to be used in large-scale settings and that draw attention to important aspects of standards-based learning and instruction. CRESST’s method was based on the collection of teachers’ assignments with student work. The assignments then were rated and results were summarized to create indicators of classroom practice. Results to date indicated an acceptable level of inter-rater reliability across study years. It likely would be necessary to collect as many as three or four assignments from teachers to obtain a stable estimate of quality. Additionally, this method was reliable when teachers created their own assignments, but not when teachers submitted assignments created by outside sources. The quality of classroom assignments was associated with the quality of observed instruction, as well as the quality of students’ written work. Students who were exposed to teachers who created more cognitively challenging assignments and who had clearer grading criteria also made greater gains on the Stanford Test of Achievement, 9th Edition (Stanford 9). The quality of teachers’ assignments submitted at each of the study years, however, tended to be of basic quality only. Teachers’ reactions to the data collection and implications for the use of this method in collaborative professional development sessions also are discussed.

Matsumura, L. C., & Pascal, J. (2003). Teachers’ assignments and student work: Opening a window on classroom practice (CSE Report 602). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).