Buros-Nebraska Series on Measurement and Testing


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Published in Teacher Training in Measurement and Assessment Skills, edited by Steven L. Wise (Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 1993).


Copyright © 1993 by Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Digital edition copyright © 2012 Buros Center for Testing. This book may be downloaded, saved, and printed by an individual for their own use. No part of this book may be re-published, re-posted, or redistributed without written permission of the holder of copyright.


Teachers' testing practices, as reflected in such activities as stating desired learner outcomes, grouping pupils, instigating study activities, and providing feedback for monitoring teaching and learning, are an integral component of models of instruction (Brophy & Good, 1986; Rosenshine, 1985). The testing and assessment process within learning models is variously described as providing practice, review, consolidation of learning, knowledge of results, feedback for redirecting efforts, feelings of accomplishment, a focus for efforts, etc. Relatedly, Crooks (1988) asserts that testing/evaluation is one of the most potent forces influencing education. Also, Elton and Laurillard (1979), in describing the impact of classroom testing upon pupils, stated that the surest way to change pupil learning behavior is to change pupil assessment.

Contrary to the common perception that testing plays an essential role in the teaching and learning process, actual elements of the evaluation schemas that teachers institute have received less research attention than most other aspects of education (Crooks, 1988). Further, the research of testing has been focused primarily upon standardized testing rather than upon the much more prevalent teacherdevised testing, and those studies that have addressed teacher-made tests and teachers' testing practices have predominantly used teacher self-report data-gathering procedures. As a consequence, these limited and narrow research efforts have resulted in testing professionals knowing little about the nature and quality of teacher-made tests, about how these tests are used within the classroom teaching-learning process, and about the adequacy of teacher's testing knowledge and skills (Stiggins, Conklin, & Bridgeford, 1986).

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a review of the professional literature devoted to testing in the classroom in order to ascertain what testing knowledge and skills K-12 classroom teachers ought to have; what testing practices ought to be used to facilitate classroom learning; what is known about teachers' actual testing knowledge, skills, and practices; and what implications for the measurement profession are suggested by any discrepancies identified between teachers' desired and actual testing knowledge, skills, and practices. More specifically, this chapter is focused upon teachers' testing knowledge, practices, and skills, and is organized around the following five questions:

1. What should the nature and extent of K-12 classroom teachers' testing knowledge, skills, and practices be, as indicated by the findings from research on testing in the classroom and by the expectations and advice of the professional measurement and educator communities?

2. What is the nature and extent of the school community's support for testing in the classroom? What are the school community's perceptions regarding the adequacy of teachers' testing knowledge and the adequacy of teachers' training in testing? And to what extent are resources such as duplication services available in schools to assist teachers in meeting their testing responsibilities?

3. What is the extent of K-12 classroom teachers' testing knowledge as revealed through their reported testing practices, beliefs, and attitudes?

4. What is the extent of K-12 classroom teachers' testing knowledge and skills as revealed through paper-and-pencil assessments; through proficiency ratings of teachers' testing competencies, completed by the teachers themselves and by principals and supervisors; and through direct assessments of teachers' test construction skills as revealed on their formal teachermade tests?

5. And finally, how do K-12 classroom teachers' testing knowledge, skills, and practices measure up, and what recommendations for the measurement profession are suggested by the findings from the review of the research literature pertaining to testing in classroom settings?