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Implementation of formative assessment strategies as perceived by high school students and teachers: Professional development implications

Rosemary Burns, Johnson & Wales University


The purpose of this research study was to investigate the level of implementation of formative assessment strategies among Rhode Island high school teachers and students in three districts. Furthermore, the research analyzed the relationship of the disciplines taught, the amount and kinds of professional development teachers had, and district urbanicity relative to their levels of implementation of formative assessment strategies. Formative assessment is a bidirectional process between teacher and student to enhance, recognize, and respond to the learning. It is the opportunity for students to address what they are expected to know and do in a manner that is similar to how they will be assessed (Black & Wiliam, 1998a). Traditionally, teachers instruct a variety of content based skills and knowledge and conclude with a test. By implementing formative assessment strategies, teachers can revise their instruction accordingly, and students are provided scaffolded opportunities to construct their own process for learning. The literature suggests that when teachers implement formative assessment strategies, students have greater opportunities to demonstrate high levels of achievement (OECD, 2005). A concurrent mixed methods design was used to survey high school teachers (N = 137) and students (N = 129) in three school districts: urban, suburban, and urban-ring. Focus group interviews with volunteer students (n = 23) and teachers (n = 19) provided depth of understanding to the relationship between each group's perception of implementation. The results of a t test found significant difference between students and teachers regarding teacher modification of instruction when students are struggling. Students reported that implementation occurs sometimes (M = 2.47, SD = .92), while teachers reported that they almost always change their instructional practice ( M = 3.67) and with strong agreement among themselves (SD = .57). A large effect size was calculated (d = 1.57). Correlational analysis results showed a significant positive relationship between teachers use of feedback strategies and the amount of professional development received on this same topic (r = .25, r2 = .13, p < .01). A medium effect size was calculated (r2 = .13). In this case, the positive relationship is to a relatively low level of implementation (M = 2.66, SD = .81). Qualitative information corroborated quantitative data. Recommendations to national, state, and local education institutions included strategies to incorporate formative assessment within a balanced assessment system and substantial and ongoing professional development for teachers to support its implementation.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Secondary education|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Burns, Rosemary, "Implementation of formative assessment strategies as perceived by high school students and teachers: Professional development implications" (2010). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3398377.