Publications & Resources

Teacher Use of Formative Assessment Data for English Language Learners

Aug 2012

Margaret Heritage and Sandy Chang

This paper presents an exploratory analysis of teachers’ feedback in focus groups about online reports aimed at providing accessible information about English language learners’ (ELLs) performance on reading assessments designed for formative purposes. Examples of the online reports are included in the Appendix. The focus groups were part of a larger project on the development of assessments for formative purposes for ELLs conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in collaboration with CRESST. While the focus groups were not originally intended as an exploration of teachers’ understanding of assessment for formative purposes, our data revealed some interesting insights about the teachers’ perceptions on the purpose and use of formative assessment for ELLs.

Prior work has suggested that teachers do not have a clear understanding about assessment for formative purposes (Boyle & Charles, 2010; Gearhart & Osmundson, 2008; Gearhart et al., 2006; Heritage, Vendlinski, Kim, & Herman, 2009; Heritage, Jones, & White, 2011; Osmundson, Herman & Dai, 2010). The insights from our present analysis add to this growing body of work about teachers’ understanding and use of formative assessment data.

Our analysis of the data was guided by the following research questions:
1. Do teachers understand the nature and purpose of assessment for formative purposes?
2. What perspectives do they have on how to respond pedagogically to formative data?

Heritage, M., & Chang, S. (2012). Teacher use of formative assessment data for English language learners. Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).