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Formative Assessment Professional Development: Impact on Teacher Practice

Deborah DiBiase, Johnson & Wales University


With increasing demands on student achievement as set forth by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) (2001), teachers are the catalyst for improving their students' performance (Marzano, 2000). Existing studies on the use of formative assessment as a process by which teachers elicit information of their students' progress and use that information to inform their instruction have shown promising results in student achievement gains (Wiliam & Thompson, 2007). Extensive teacher professional development is needed, however, to instill a change in teacher practice needed to successfully employ formative assessment resulting in improved student achievement (Trumbull & Lash, 2013; Wiley & Heritage, 2010). The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between Linking Learning and Assessment professional development (including online training modules and communities of practice) as well as other forms of professional development on formative assessment and resulting self-perceived teacher practice, and what aspects of the professional development teachers found meaningful in improving their practice. This study utilized a mixed-methods design. A questionnaire was administered to middle level educators (N=82) throughout the state followed by a focus group interview (N=5). Quantitative data analysis consisted of descriptive statistics, correlations, Anova, and t-tests. Qualitative data were obtained through open-ended questions and the focus group. Content analysis was conducted to analyze the qualitative data obtained through the focus group interview and the open-ended questions on the questionnaire. A major finding of this study is that most teachers are in the early stages of implementing the formative assessment process and have begun to realize the power of formative assessment. Those who have had ongoing and intensive training have begun to see meaningful changes in their practice. Professional development found to be most meaningful to teachers includes: collaboration, active learning opportunities and coherence. In addition, teachers expressed the need for professional development to be differentiated to meet their individual needs. The results of this study may serve to inform teachers, administrators, districts and state departments of education when developing and implementing professional development in general as well as professional development on formative assessment.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

DiBiase, Deborah, "Formative Assessment Professional Development: Impact on Teacher Practice" (2014). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3621976.