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‘One assessment doesn’t serve all the purposes’ or does it? : New Zealand teachers describe assessment and feedback
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by S Irving, Lois HarrisLois Harris, E Peterson
Within the Asia-Pacific community, the New Zealand Ministry of Education has been one of few educational authorities to adopt an Assessment for Learning (AfL) framework and actively promote formative uses of assessment. This paper reports the results of a qualitative study in which eleven New Zealand secondary teachers in two focus groups discussed their conceptions of assessment and feedback. These data were examined to see how teachers defined and understood assessment and feedback processes to identify how these conceptions related to AfL perspectives on assessment. Categorical analysis of these data found teachers identified three types of assessment (formative, classroom teacher–controlled summative and external summative) with three distinct purposes (improvement, reporting and compliance, irrelevance). Feedback was seen as being about learning, grades and marks, or behaviour and effort; these types served the same purposes as assessment with the addition of an encouragement purpose. This study showed that although these New Zealand teachers appeared committed to AfL, there was still disagreement amongst teachers as to what practices could be deemed formative and how to best implement these types of assessment. Additionally, even in this relatively low-stakes environment, they noted tension between improvement and accountability purposes for assessment.