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ERIC Number: ED534558
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 35
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 3
Toward Meaningful Assessment: Lessons from Five First-Grade Classrooms. Occasional Paper Series 26
Kates, Laura R.
Bank Street College of Education
Are teachers who are faced with mandated assessments more likely or less likely to explore their students' performance in depth and use their discoveries to enrich learning? This is the story of how six first-grade teachers in New York City responded to a mandated performance assessment--and how that response compared to a set of informal, self-selected assessments they'd identified collaboratively. This study traces the ways in which the teachers came to socially construct the mandated assessment as a bureaucratic burden rather than as the rich resource for instructional improvement its developers intended it to be. Although the assessment they were compelled to use was extremely similar to the ones they chose to use, the teachers perceived the voluntarily administered instruments to be highly pertinent to instructional decision-making, while they saw the mandated instruments as irrelevant and burdensome. The teachers' responses to the mandate call attention to the fact that the policy environments' current emphasis on scrutiny and punishment diminishes rather than enhances assessment's potential to bolster teacher learning and student achievement. From 1998 to 2003 (and, in a highly revised form, for several years thereafter), the administration of the Early Childhood Literacy Assessment System (ECLAS) to every K-2 student was mandated throughout the New York City school system. Developed by a team of local educators, and deliberately devoid of any mechanism for reporting out, ECLAS was intended to help teachers identify children's strengths and needs in order to inform classroom instruction. In the school the author studied, ECLAS--despite its teacher-centered aims--set off a chain of interpretations and actions that ran counter to its goal of operating as a catalyst for improvement in practice. The teachers came to define ECLAS as a tool of bureaucratic control rather than as the user-friendly set of materials for informing instruction its developers intended it to be. Once ECLAS was so defined, the teachers neither analyzed it nor talked about it in ways that extended their own or their students' learning. This study bears evidence, then, to how extensively the situated meaning that is made of mandates shapes the ways in which they will be used and understood. Appended are: (1) Overview of ECLAS Strands; (2) Leveling Correlation Grid; (3) Example of ECLAS Reading Record Materials; (4) Example of ECLAS Reading Record Materials; and (5) Example of a Running Record. (Contains 1 footnote.)
Bank Street College of Education. 610 West 112th Street, New York, NY 10025. Tel: 212-961-3336; Tel: 212-875-4400; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 1
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Bank Street College of Education
Identifiers - Location: New York