This chapter provides a review of the literature on the rationale for the use of data to improve instruction and findings on how interim assessments may be used for formative purposes, how teachers analyze and use interim data, and the factors that influence use. The authors also share the results of two studies on teachers’ use of interim assessment: one a qualitative, focus group study, and the other, a larger sample survey study. The study concludes with the authors’ analysis of the collective findings of the research.
Note that this chapter is part of an edited book, Informing the Practice of Teaching Using Formative and Interim Assessment. For more information about the book, please visit the publisher's website.
The collective findings from the authors’ research and experience with districts and others’ research provide good recommendation for implementing interim assessment. These are summarized in Table 5.3, which not only provides recommendations but cites the research on which they are based. The following recommendations are included in the chapter.
- Clarify purpose – focus on instructional adjustments.
- Establish alignment evidence – content.
- Establish alignment evidence – cognitive level.
- Provide clear guidelines for use.
- Establish district and school environments that support data-drive decision making.
- Use high quality items.
- Provide structured time for review.
- Use teams of teachers for review and analysis.
- Include estimates of error.
- Distribute questions, along with results, with numbers of students selecting each alternative.
- Monitor unintended consequences.
- Document costs – how much instructional time is being replaced by testing, test prep and review, and analysis of results? How much does the process cost in terms of software and personnel?
- Evaluate use of results – What evidence exists that teachers are using results to modify instruction and that students are learning more?
- Provide adequate professional development.
- Standardize administrative procedures for all schools within a district – no longer than one hour for each test.
- Ensure fairness.
- Address effect of pacing guide.
- Verify results with other evidence.
- Keep items secure until after tests are administered.