Even, R. (2005). Using assessment to inform instructional decisions: How hard can it be? Mathematics Education Research Journal, 17(3), 45-61.
This article examines 1) how teachers make sense of student assessment data; and 2) how to best support teachers when adopting more contemporary assessment methods. The author maintains that contemporary assessment practices (e.g., projects, journals, portfolios, conversations, observations, etc.) are changing the purpose of assessment from evaluating student performance to improving student learning and informing teacher instructional decisions. To address the first problem, the author presents four episodes of teacher-student interactions during mathematics instruction in which a teacher misunderstands students during the learning process. The author finds that teachers' ability to make sense of student learning is an active and complicated process, as teachers must be able to understand how students think about mathematics, have a flexible instructional plan that allows for student feedback and redirection, and use flexible solutions to problems. To address the second problem, how to support teachers using contemporary assessment strategies in mathematics, the author examined a professional development course designed to teach primary teachers how to incorporate portfolios into their assessment repertoire. Even found that although contemporary assessment tools and methods were frequently discussed, this was done so with the purpose of more traditional assessment (i.e., to evaluate student performance at the end of a unit). The author also found that after learning to use the portfolio strategy, teachers reported greater integration of assessment and instruction than before taking the course. Even concludes that using more contemporary assessment methods to guide instruction may be somewhat complicated so teachers should be explicitly taught how to use assessment to inform instructional decisions.
Analysis, Formative Assessment, Professional Expertise, Skills and Knowledge