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Performance based assessments : shifting the secondary teacher's focus from content to process Graves, Diane L. 2010-12

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PERFORMANCE BASED ASSESSMENTS:SHIFTING THE SECONDARY TEACHER’S FOCUS FROM CONTENT TOPROCESSbyDIANE L. GRAVESBachelor of Arts Simon Fraser University, 1997 Bachelor of Education University of British Columbia, 1998 Diploma in Special Education University of British Columbia, 2001A GRADUATING PAPER SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER IN EDUCATION InTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Language and Literacy EducationWe accept this major paper as conforming.......................................Dr. Margot FilipenkoTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIADecember 2010 © D. L. Graves, 2010ABSTRACTAs the fiscal restraints facing school districts continues to mount and the needs of our student population seems to increase, there is even a greater need for districts to spend their limited funds on teacher professional development that is effective. More and more there is a move away from bringing in the outside expert in and instead trying to create site based collaborative learning teams. This paper examines the model of a collaborative learning community in an effort to distill what aspects of it actually helped content area teachers to incorporate increased instructional time on literacy processes. This model is examined in relation to research on effective teacher professional development. The key questions addressed in this paper are aimed at identifying the big ideas behind positive changes in classroom practice with an attempt to analyze what, in terms of collaborative professional development, fosters these changes in classroom practice.2Abstract.................................................................................................................................2Table of Contents.................................................................................................................3Acknowledgements............................................................................................................. 4Purpose..................................................................................................................................vResearch Question............................................................................................................... vLiterature Review................................................................................................................ viHistorical Context................................................................................................... viTheoretical Framework...........................................................................................viiChange Theory........................................................................................... viiLearning Theories.........................................................................................viiCommunities of Practice............................................................................. viiiEffective Professional Development..........................  ixCollaborative Inquiry.....................................................................................ixRole of Feedback............................................................................................xiMethods................................................................................................................................ xiiiDesign........................................................................................................................ xiiiSite..............................................................................................................................xivParticipants.................................................................................................................. xvData Sources..............................................................................................................xviOral Interviews.............................................................................................xviInterview Questions.................................................................................................. xviData Analysis............................................................................................................xviiFindings................................................................................................................................xviiiTeacher Leadership............................ xviiiFormative Assessment................................................................................. xixRole of Student Data......................................................................................xxCollaboration................................................................................................ xxiShifts in Classroom Practice.....................................................................xxiiiDiscussion............................................................................................................................xxivSignificance......................................................................................................................... xxivLimitations...........................................................................................................................xxviiImplications..........................................................................   xxviiReference..............................................................................................................................xxixTABLE OF CONTENTS3I owe an enormous amount of gratitude to my colleagues in the Richmond School District. They have patiently allowed me to pursue my passion for teacher learning over the last 2.5 years and have offered me encouragement, time, and their own insights that have enabled me to persevere through the challenges of balancing the demands of my district role along with my master’s degree. To the school team who generously shared their time and thoughts with me, I owe you the greatest thank-you as none of this could have happened without your willingness to come on board. Kathyrn D’Angelo, my principal, has guided me through what had been uncharted territory for myself with wisdom and grace. I thank-you. I have been fortunate to work with some of the trailblazers in the area of literacy and effective professional development. Norma Jamieson, Leyton Schnellert, and Professor Deborah Butler I thank-you for your leadership and mentorship as I would not have even become interested in this area if it had not for the work you have already done and continue to do.Dr. Theresa Rogers, my Graduate Advisor, has been an invaluable guide to me throughout this process. Without her commitment to the integrity of her and my intentions, I would not have completed a data based research project. I am indebted to you.Words seem inadequate when trying to describe how grateful I am to my family and friends. It has been a long few years where I have relied on you to forgive my absences from many events. Your patience and love is much appreciated. You, as well, have provided me with the encouragement I needed to persist.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS4Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom PracticesPURPOSE OF STUDYAs a profession, we educators tend to focus more of our research on student learning and, in more recent years, on school reform, than on teacher learning. Student outcomes are clearly the most important element, which is what spurred the school reform movement. What has been debated, though, is where the expended effort will have the most effect on improving student learning. It is only in recent history that more attention is being paid to understanding the teacher as a learner. The teacher, it has come to be understood, plays the most important role in creating a learning rich opportunity for all children. For that reason, it is the teacher as a learner that I am interested in learning more about. So, in this literature review, I seek to understand varying learning theories that under gird what is seen by many to be effective professional development because it promotes teacher learning in a way that actually shifts classroom practice and is sustained over time.RESEARCH QUESTIONThe following questions guide this study:• How does a teacher’s involvement in the Reading for Information Performance Based Assessment (PBA) process relate to their learning?• What are the teacher’s perceived effects of the different types of professional development they have participated in throughout the PBA process on their learning?• How has what they have learned from the use of student data from the co­constructed performance assessments informed their teaching?LITERATURE REVIEWHistorical Context o f Teacher Professional DevelopmentUntil fairly recently, the professional development teachers experienced tended to be via direct instruction from an outside expert. Teachers were the recipients of knowledge rather than the co-constructors of it. It was professional development as telling. Ann Lieberman (1999) argues this “stems from deep-rooted philosophical notions about learning, competence and trust” (p.592). Teachers were often not seen as competent and were not trusted to leam what it was they needed to produce better results for students (Guskey, 1986, 2002; Liebermann 1999).This may, in part, be a result of the views held by early cognitive theories of learning. Typically, “they treated knowing as the manipulation of symbols inside the mind of the individual and learning as the acquisition of knowledge and skills...” (Putnam, Borko 2000, p.4). Learning was seen as an individual event rather than as one that the social, context and intention played a role in. Teaching was viewed as “technical learning as packaged and teachers as passive recipients of the findings of research” (Liebermann, p. 592).While there was much professional development being given to educators, there was very little change in student outcomes. School Reform became a hot topic in many Western countries. For example, in England and the U.S.A. new initiatives were created that were to dramatically improve student learning (Wiliam, 2008, p. 36). Interestingly, these initiatives had very little positive effect on student outcomes: some even had a detrimental effect (Wiliam, 2002, p.l). Most, if not all of these initiatives, flew in the faceShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesof what researchers were discovering about teacher learning, effecting school change, and sustaining that change.Theoretical FrameworksChange TheoryIt seems a great many researchers were asking many of the same questions at the same time, producing a synergy of thinking around many interrelated ideas on how best to foster the kind of learning environments in which students will thrive. Surprisingly, teachers were often not considered as part of the learning community and were only referred to in terms of how students were doing in their classes.Thomas Guskey, building on the work of Jones & Hayes (1980), began exploring what is now known as Change Theory. What he and others realized was that the main motivation for teachers to change their practice was evidence of improved student learning (2002, p. 383). Consequently, he surmised that changing teachers’ practices was more important than changing their beliefs; changed beliefs would follow if the teachers saw a positive correlation between their efforts and improved student performance. Change, then, is predicated on the idea that, “change is an experientially based learning process for teachers” (Guskey, 2002, p. 384). Context, as a result of being experientially based, becomes more important.Learning TheoriesGradually a Socio-Constructivist perspective on teacher learning and professional development grew. Building from the theoretical frameworks suggesting that learning occurs in and through socially situated activity (Dewey, 1938; Bruner, 1996; Lave and Wenger, 1991; Vygotsky, 1978) and emerging professional development modelsShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesposition teachers at the center of change efforts (Butler & Schnellert, 2009, p. 3). Schon (1983), for example, argued that teachers’ practice-based learning does not occur from the use of techniques derived from applied research. “It is through the non-technical process of framing the problematic situation that [teachers] organize and clarify both ends to be achieved and the possible means of achieving them” (Schon, 1983, p.41). When looking across the literature of teacher knowing and learning, theorists (e.g. Lave & Wenger, 1991; Schon, 1983; Guskey, 1982, 2002; Lieberman,1999, 2002) illustrate how professionals’ understandings and practice are developed through reflective attention to how context is related to one’s practice.Communities o f Practice (CoP Theory)Even though the likes of Dewey (1938) examined how teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, and practices are shaped through engagement in action within communities of practice, it has only been in recent years that the importance of how teachers learn has become a main focus of the literature. Prior to this, most of the attention has been on student learning. Numerous researchers (Putnam & Borko, 2002; Schull, 1986) have argued that the shift toward ideas like “situated cognition, distributed cognition, and communities of practice” (Putnam and Borko, 2002, p.4) are even more fundamental than the now-historical shift from behaviorist to cognition views of learning.It took many more theorists exploring learning as socially and contextually constructed before the research was incorporated into the teacher’s professional development. Wenger (1998), for example, shows how learning takes place through the lived experience. Lieberman (1999, 2002), as well, argues that if we want to improve student learning, “teachers must have the opportunity to be involved in learning aboutShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesand developing new ideas with their students and colleagues” (p. 592). A culture of inquiry is needed to foster teacher learning and to sustain the changes that result from this new learning.Effective Professional DevelopmentA culture of inquiry is central to Professional Development if it is to be effective. The key element in teacher learning, though, seems to be that teachers need to be involved in shaping what is learned and for some of this learning to occur in a group. Ostensibly, there is agreement among those that identify with Situated Learning Theory or Socio-Constructivist Theory that for teacher professional development to be effective for teachers, teachers need to belong to a community of learners (Borko, 2004;Davies, 2008; Guskey, 2002, Butler, 2009). There are structural as well as attitudinal aspects that contribute to this, but for the scope of this paper, I will focus on two key aspects the literature suggests needs to be in place for professional development to be effective and sustainable: collaborative inquiry and feedback. Feedback, it should be noted, will be discussed in reference to feedback from colleagues as well as from students in the form of data.Collaborative InquiryCollaborative inquiry, by its very nature, invites the participants to explore an area of interest with other learners. These learners could be students, colleagues, or educational researchers. The underlying premise is that knowledge is being co­constructed and not just disseminated or transferred from one to another. James, Black, McCormick, Pedder & Wiliam (2006) in their research project Learning How to Learn, in Classrooms, Schools and Networks: aims, design and Analysis “attempted to provideShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicessome answers to substantive questions about the conditions in classrooms, schools, and networks that support pupil and teachers in their learning” (p. 102). Specifically, their principal aim was to bring together two fields of educational research: Assessment for Learning (AfL) and teacher’s professional development and school improvement, in order “to investigate the conditions in classrooms and schools, that would better learning by pupils through the development of AfL practices by teachers” (James et al, 2006, p. 103). In this study and Wiliam’s 2002 project King’s-Medway-Osfordshire Formative Assessment Project (KMOFAP), the finding was “that traditional models of knowledge transfer can only be effective for those at a relatively limited level of competence.” Instead, it is suggested “that teachers need to be involved, collaboratively, with researchers in a joint process of knowledge creation’'’ (Wiliam, 2002, p. 1).Transforming schools into learning communities requires a systematic effort to create a culture where large and even small-scale collaboration that actually positively affects teaching practice can occur. One of the first steps in achieving this is aligning professional development plans with the whole staff. Anne Davies (2008) argues, “alignment builds confidence, commitment, ownership and ‘buy-in’” (Davies, et al., p. 31). This, however, does not mean a return to the dogmatic approach of outside experts telling teachers what they are to learn. Instead, the change from ‘teaching’ to Teaming’ is significant because it implies that teacher involvement in creating, shaping and even delivering professional development is integral to the restructuring of schools so that student learning increases (Liebermann, 1999; Guskey, 2002; Butler, 2009; Borko, 2002; Davies, 2008). This level of teacher involvement enforces the notion of a sharedShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesxexperience in which everyone has a voice; thereby increasing the likelihood of more teachers actually participating in school based professional conversations.Much of the current research on what effective professional development looks like is linked to the idea of learning as social and constructed in particular contexts. Research suggests that, “professional development can be enhanced if teachers collaborate within a community of inquiry” (Cochran Smith & Lytle, 2004; Guskey,2000; McLaughlin & Talbert, 2006; Morrell, 2000; Robertson, 2000 cited in Butler,2009, p. 8). Teachers working together to grapple with problems or challenges they are experiencing within the school, curriculum and/or particular class joins the experiential learning with the social.Situating teacher learning in their own practice and school site seems to contribute to actual and sustained changes in classroom practice (Butler, 2009; Borko & Putnam; Lieberman, (1999), Davies, et al., (2008).Role of FeedbackAn aspect of collaborative inquiry that seems to facilitate sustained change is ongoing feedback from colleagues (Butler, 2009; Davies, 2008; Lieberman, 1998). To shift classroom practice, teachers must have the opportunity to work with peers in ongoing and cyclical conversations where they have the opportunity to create, experiment and reflect with those colleagues as to what worked and what did not (Butler, 2009).Most, if not all of the literature, acknowledges that learning partnerships help to foster a culture where it is ‘okay’ to engage in professional conversations that are constructive and provide helpful feedback. These conversations provide concrete support for teachers to act upon (Borko, 2004; Butler, 2007). Collaborative inquiry arises in a relationship thatShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesis not evaluative but one that is curious; this attitude can spread so that it becomes embedded in the school culture. The teacher learner must have the opportunity to co­construct their knowledge and understanding the same way that we know our students as learners need to (Liebermann, 1999). These job-embedded opportunities to engage in collaborative inquiry are of intrinsic interest to participants; consequently then, teachers are more likely to commit to this effort and work through the challenges they face because they are part of a group who give context specific feedback on what is occurring in that situation. This iterative process becomes part of the lived experience for that teacher.Feedback can come from multiple sources. One valuable source is the student. Guskey (2002) notes the importance of teachers receiving feedback on student learning and/or their feelings about their school experience. If change occurs for teachers when they have seen positive results in student learning from their efforts, then this is a crucial element in changing and sustaining a teacher’s effort to effect positive instruction. Teachers might be gathering quantitative or qualitative data and then use this data to inform their teaching. This feedback helps to create a cycle of inquiry in that the teacher seeks to understand what effects their teaching actually has on student learning, tries a new approach, and then evaluates the effectiveness of the tried approach (Guskey, 2002, p. 388). This iterative process is in fact AfL. Ultimately, a teacher’s self-efficacy and ability to self-regulate in the classroom is increased when they are involved in an “active process through which they direct and maintain their metacognition, motivation, and strategies for effective instruction” (Capa-Aydin, et al, (2009) p. 345). Feedback,Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practiceswhether from the student or peer, helps to fuel the iterative process that promotes teacher learning that actually shapes a teacher’s classroom practice.METHODSDesignIn this study I wanted to learn how engaging in collaborative inquiry shaped around a teacher created reading performance assessment in content classes impacted teachers’ perceptions about their classroom practice. The specific focus of this research was to learn what aspects of a collaborative inquiry project, which included assessing student data generated from a teacher created reading performance assessment, influenced the participants’ thinking and classroom practice.My area of interest, which has evolved into my main research question, was in response to a real life situation in which I observed. Because I was interested in uncovering the relationship between involvement in the development of a reading assessment tool and the impact of that tool on subsequent teacher action, I chose a qualitative case study approach Although, as a member of the teaching staff, I joined the school based team on their scoring days, I was not a part of the ongoing school based Literacy Team. This allowed me to be a participant-observer in the research. Marshall and Rossman (1989) in Yin (2003) state: “one purpose of qualitative methods is to discover important questions, processes, and relationships and not to test them” (p.7). As I am interested in understanding why something happened and not in testing a theory, a case study approach using semi-structured oral interviews best enables me to be responsive to the individual teacher’s thinking about his or her practice and their students’ performance. A semi-structured oral interview, in many ways, is an extension of the dynamic collaborative inquiry process this group of teachers has engaged in.Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom PracticesIn an effort to create an interview that follows good architectural design, my method is disciplined and allows for flexibility in my sequencing and in teacher response (Yin p.21). Each interview was conducted individually and lasted approximately twenty minutes. Following this, I systematically grouped the questions so that the respondents have multiple opportunities to discuss the Performance Based Assessment process itself, their own learning and actions in relationship to their engagement in this kind of collaborative inquiry process.SiteThe site chosen for this case study is a secondary school (grades 8 -  12) in an urban centre on the west coast of British Columbia. Approximately five elementary schools feed into this high school. There is, however, an Incentive program that draws students from across the district. Ultimately, what this Incentive program tends to do is stream the more capable children out of the regular classroom. As a result of school and teacher based decisions, the students in the Incentive program were not assessed along with the other students. Some students who are on modified programs may not be in content area classrooms but many are. These students, however, were not assessed using the same rubric. Students who are receiving resource support and are adapted but not modified, are in the content area classes and are assessed. Consequently, the student population assessed was fairly heterogeneous in their ability.The population that this school serves is an ethnically diverse community, but one that tends to be low to mid in a socio-economic status (SES). A large percentage of the student population are fairly recent immigrants from South Asia. Many of the other students were bom here but reared by family members for whom English is not their firstShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesxivlanguage. Frequently then, as English is not the language spoken in the home, many students struggle with the academic rigors presented by the printed materials their teachers use. In conjunction with their being English Language Learners; many of the students have little background knowledge in European and North American history and culture which can impact their achievement in classes such as Humanities.ParticipantsAll site-based teachers who have been involved in some capacity with the Performance Based Assessment were invited to participate in an oral interview. In total, of the eight teachers invited to participate, six gave consent: of these three were male and three female. While the majority of them teach Humanities/Social Studies, two participants are also Resource teachers and one is also an English as a Second Language teacher. The participants have a range of teaching experience: Two have less than four years of teaching; two have more than four years and two have taught for more than twenty years. As a team, their range of experience provided an exciting opportunity to leam how their previous teaching experience might contribute to their actions.Even though all of these teachers have been involved in some way with the PBA process, their level and type of involvement has been varied. Some have had their classes assessed, been involved in the actual scoring day, and all the school based Literacy Team events. Participating resource teachers do not have a class assessed but have participated in the scoring day and some in the other school based team and district-wide literacy professional development events. One teacher, in particular, has had his class assessed but has chosen not to participate in any of the team or district sessions. Clearly, this team and the school context have provided an exciting opportunity to learn. As Yin states:Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom PracticesxvShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practices“You would use the case study method because you deliberately wanted to cover contextual conditions -  believing that they might be highly pertinent to your phenomenon of study” (p. 13). The context for which this team created an outcome of increased student performance is relevant to my study.Data SourcesAfter extending a written invitation to each teacher to participate and receiving back their permission letters, I set up individual interviews at a location that was convenient for the willing participants. Each participant chose a quiet location at the school for our oral interview.Oral Interviews - Each interview lasted approximately twenty minutes and was recorded on a hand held recording device. While I had a bank of already constructed questions to draw from, my interviews were semi-structured in nature thereby allowing me to probe the respondent’s responses.Interview QuestionsInvolvement in the PBA Process1. Tell me a bit about why you got involved in this collaborative inquiry project?2. Can you describe your involvement in the PBA process? Probes: How have you been involved in... the construction of the assessment tool? The scoring day? The school based literacy team meetings? Co-planning and/or co-teaching? District level professional development events?3. Can you tell me a bit about what you hope to assess with the PBA? To learn about your students? To leam about this particular content area? To get from being involved in this assessment in terms of improving student learning or performance?Changes they perceive from Being Involved in the PBA Process4. Have you used what you leam from the PBA in your classroom practice?5. Are there specific examples you can share of how your teaching has changed as a result of your involvement in the PBA process?xviShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practices6. Has being involved in the PBA process changed your thinking in any way? Probes: has your understanding of student’s learning changed as a result of your involvement in the PBA process? Has your understanding of how they leam through text changed? Has how you see your role as a content teacher changed as a result of this involvement?7. What aspects, if any, of the PBA activities have made a difference to your teaching or thinking? Can you explain?On the PBA Process8. Why might other teachers get involved in this kind of project?9. If you were to do this again next year, what do you think should remain the same, and what should be different, in the school’s PBA process? Explain?Data AnalysisOnce I finished gathering my data, I listened to all of my interviews without taking any notes. What I was listening for were the trends in relation to the literature as well as to my own experience with collaboration and teacher leadership. There were five dominant themes that led to my establishing five codes. Next, I listened to the oral interviews again, but this time I transcribed each response and placed it in the colour coded category that best reflected the main idea of what the respondent was saying. Initially, I titled my five categories: reflecting upon student data, shifts in classroom practice, teacher leadership, formative assessment, and collaboration. After having coded and recorded all of my interviews, I began to analyze the results for both the frequency of the kinds of responses as well as for the quality or emphasis of a response. Consequently,I was able to create sub-categories within my larger groupings and reflect upon the hierarchy of importance that was beginning to emerge.xviiFINDINGSTeacher Leadership. Interestingly, the role of a colleague organizing the scoring of the situated literacy assessment and then the ongoing follow-up was referred to the least number of times of all of the categories. There are only five comments that directly relate to the impact a teacher leader has on this process. Those five comments, however, are quite revealing in that most of them acknowledge in some way that this collaborative inquiry process would not occur if there were not a knowledgeable teacher who took on the administering and scoring the assessments. Even the teacher leader, Claire, recognized the importance of someone having the time to take care of all the administrative aspects of the day so that the teachers could just focus on the collaboration. Otherwise, it was felt many would feel it was another burden to prepare for and then decline the invitation to participate.Another aspect of the teacher leadership that emerged in these five comments was how hard it was to say ‘no’ to a colleague who was enthusiastic about the project and what might be learned. Three of the respondents felt it was an honour to be involved because they were being invited by a colleague and were being provided with a substitute teacher to teach their classes so that they could participate in this day long event. Taro, who has been teaching for six years, said “he felt honoured to be invited because he saw it as an indication his colleagues cared about what he thought and had to say.”All the respondents identified the reason for engaging in this process was to improve student learning. Therefore when a colleague was willing to take the time to create the space and opportunity for teachers to engage in a process that was aboutShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesimproving student performance, they felt they could not say ‘no’ even if it was something they were not all the interested in trying.Formative Assessment. This theme was referred to 12 times and by all of the respondents at least once. While none of the respondents directly said this was the aspect that most impacted what they did in their classrooms, when analyzing their comments, it appears to be the aspect from which they learned the most about their classroom practice.Three of the six respondents commented that it was mainly because their students/class were being assessed that they agreed to participate in scoring the students’ work. These three all noted how much they learned about teaching the skills as a result of scoring the actual assessments. Lewis, for example, stated that, “scoring his students against a performance rubric and scoring these with grade alike teachers, made him realize he had far too high of expectations for his students and that even though he was trained as an English teacher, he did not know what the skills of reading comprehension were.. .being involved in the PBA taught him that.” Moreover, all six respondents observed that being involved in an initial Fall assessment and then engaging in a post­assessment that took place in the Spring motivated them to actually try new instructional approaches in their classroom; they did so because they had the opportunity to reassess their students’ skills with an assessment tool that was relevant to their content area.Initially some of the participants were not all that interested in giving up a day in their classroom to sit and score student’s work and then discuss the findings with their colleagues. That was until they had gone through the process once. After that, all the members of the school based literacy team vied for a spot on the scoring team: firstly because they knew how much it is they would leam about their students, and secondlyShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesxixhow much they would leam about the literary skills students need to be successful in comprehending this particular content. One aspect of this that all the participants commented on was how important it was to have a follow up assessment in the spring so that they could see as a grade wide team if their efforts were having the large-scale effect they were hoping for. Sara, an experienced senior English teacher, but new to teaching this grade, credited the follow-up assessment for “helping her to see student learning as an incremental process rather than a static one;” ultimately, she said, “she realized her teaching really did have a positive impact on student achievement.”All of the participants cited the impact of creating an assessment tool built from an actual Social Studies text they use helped them to better see the relevance of this performance based reading assessment to their teaching. While we were not directly assessing student’s comprehension of the content, all of the teachers felt they learned the relationship between the skills assessed and how they could help students achieve greater result in their content areas by scoring the student’s assessment. The participants felt that using a performance based literacy assessment and seeing the results is what motivated them to actually try teaching any of the literacy skills in their content area classes.Role of Student Data. The role of having data was commented on eighteen times and by all of the participants. This ended up being the second most commented upon theme. Three of the 6 respondents felt this was the most important aspect influencing whether or not individual teachers made any changes in their classroom practice because it shifted the conversation from opinion to something they could all see and thus agree upon. Ultimately, they said, having data generated from student work allowed for moreShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesxxconstructive and less argumentative conversations to occur. Melanie, an experienced Resource Teacher, pointed out “how having data from students created a focused tension that allowed the teachers to talk about the data without anyone feeling their teaching was being attacked.” Another longtime participant, Taro, went so far as to say that “without the data, it was unlikely the group would have a meaningful conversation because it would just be an opinion: having data shifted it to evidence based and therefore a truer reflection of what their students were and weren’t able to do.” All felt the data better informed what they were doing particularly because this was a teacher generated and a content specific assessment tool that was implemented and scored twice a year thereby giving them feedback on their efforts.The Humanities teachers, in particular, commented on the relevance of the data because it was gathered in their content area with an instrument that used a Social Studies text thus enabling them to see its application in their subject area. As well, all teachers remarked on how much they learned about what they could be teaching because the assessment tool and ultimately the data gathered was broken down into discriminate literacy skills that were identifiable. One of the Resource teachers, Matt, said he changed the way he structured his whole Learning Support block because of what he learned about literacy and his students’ abilities through scoring the PBA. Now, Matt used this time to teach them the necessary skills to access the content instead of it just being a time to catch up on homework.Collaboration. Interestingly, this theme was only referred to eight times by four of the participants. The four teachers who commented on it are either in the midst of a master’s program or have been involved since this initiative’s inception. Two of the respondentsShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesxxidid not know what was meant by collaboration and needed it defined during the oral interview. Their responses, I believe, are more a reflection of being relatively new to this collaborative inquiry project and not understanding that is what they are engaged in.The participants who commented on how important collaborative inquiry was focused most on deeper learning occurring through conversation because learning is a social process. It was through their conversations while scoring the student work that they learned how to interpret what it was they were seeing. Claire said: “Data, without a discussion with informed colleagues, becomes a meaningless and futile activity that wastes everyone’s time.” A by-product of the conversations about the data was that they began to formulate action plans that they would individually take back into their classrooms and act upon. All four felt it was through these shared conversations that they had a better-informed way of seeing their student’s skills and abilities as well as the skills needed to successfully comprehend content; thus theirs was a valid judgment.Everyone interviewed stated that working together to score the student’s work allowed the respondents to shift from mere opinion to one that was collectively observed. Now, four of them said, they were in a position to plan together on how they might respond to what they were seeing because they all could see the grade wide trends. Three of the participants noted that without these conversations, they felt most of the teachers would not have acted upon the data.Being involved in this shared endeavor inspired four of the six respondents to attend literacy focused professional development opportunities offered both within the school district as well as ones offered by other districts and professional bodies.Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom PracticesShifts in Classroom Practice. This theme was commented upon twenty-one times making it the most talked about and the theme the teachers were most excited about. All six participants stated they were motivated to be involved because they wanted to help their students achieve greater success in their classes. They all recognized this would only happen if they made changes to how they were teaching and to some extent what they were teaching.Four of the respondents commented that their assessment practices had shifted from rote style question and answer activities to ones where they were assessing the students based on concrete skills that would help the student leam from a printed text, and ones where students were asked to transform what it was they were working with rather than restate what was said in the text. Taro, for example, said “I now structure many of my questions and tasks so that students need to practice and get feedback from me on the skills outlined in the Grade 8 Reading for Information Rubric.” While these four respondents made notable changes to their assessment practices, all six respondents stated they no longer view achievement as static but now see it as incremental and that through their teaching they know they can impact student achievement.All of the respondents said that being involved in the scoring of the performance based assessment helped them to see they did not just teach content but that they needed to teach the literacy skills so that their students could interact with the text in a meaningful manner. Moreover, all of the teachers explained that this process helped them to understand the content they were teaching. Claire, an experienced teacher, commented that as a result of being involved in the scoring a few times, “I now see the teaching of reading skills as just part of my teaching. I teach skills so that my students can interact atShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesa deeper level with the content.” Two respondents acknowledged that this process taught them how to understand exactly what it is that the Social Studies 8 Prescribed Learning Outcomes were actually asking for. Most importantly, all of the teachers made concrete and repeated changes in their classroom practice by incorporating the teaching of literacy skills along with the teaching of content.DiscussionMost teachers and educational researchers would agree that learning is a social process. My data certainly support this in that all participants noted how important it was for them to have a peer group to talk with about what they were seeing and trying. Research suggests that, “professional development can be enhanced if teachers collaborate within a community of inquiry” (Cochran Smith & Lytle, 2004; Guskey, 2000; McLaughlin & Talbert, 2006; Morrell, 2000; Robertson, 2000 cited in Butler,2009, p. 8). Lewis, a relatively new teacher, highlighted this when he said that having a peer group to score and discuss the student work with helped him to see things he would never even have thought of. Collaborative inquiry is an important element in creating opportunity for teacher learning. What my data and the research shows is that collaborative inquiry appears to be a way to encourage teachers to focus on data which in turns influences their beliefs about their classroom literacy practices.My research illustrated how important it was to have student-generated-data to shape the collaborative conversations around. Student data, as feedback on student achievement, helps to fuel a cycle of inquiry as teachers now have a tangible baseline to calibrate their instructional efforts against. Data, as shown through the work of DaviesShifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesxxiv(2008), helps align teacher’s professional development goals. Matt supports this claim when he went so far as to say “that seeing exactly what it was the kids could and couldn’t do, got all of them focused.. .it was clear cut exactly what needed to be taught.. .now they just had to figure out how.”What my data and the research suggest, however, is that in order for the data to be used and acted upon teachers must understand what the data is showing. Moje, for example states: “Part of learning in the subject area ... is coming to understand the norms of practice for producing and communicating knowledge in the disciplines” (Moje, 2008. p. 100). Overwhelmingly, all of the respondents felt that being part of a dialogue that was shaped around data gathered in a particular content area that they were familiar with helped them all to understand not just the data but more importantly, how they might teach those skills in the context of their content.Guskey (2002), building on the work of Jones & Hayes (1980), realized the main motivation for teacher’s to change their practice was evidence of improved student learning. My data supports this but also adds to it in that the participants saw, because of the data, that their students’ reading skills were weak in some areas; therefore the teachers felt compelled to try and teach those skills. Without that data, they may not have realized their students’ skills needed developing and therefore would not have tried to teach these reading skills to their students. Having the post assessment in order to examine whether or not their efforts were having a positive impact on student learning not only motivated the teachers to try more strategies in their classroom but also helped them to sees the students’ improvement as shown by the post assessment data, which encouraged teachers to sustain their efforts.Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom PracticesxxvWhat seems to be of great import for professional development is that “for change to occur it has to be experientially based” (Guskey, 2002, p.384). Wiliam (2002), as well, “notes that teachers need to be co-constructors of knowledge and not just recipients of knowledge transfer.” Melanie, for example, referred to this as a discovery process whereby she was simultaneously learning who her students were and what the content demands were through the scoring process. Wenger (1998) refers to this as the ‘lived experience.’ Teachers, rather than experiencing a teacher-directed approach to professional development, discuss what it was they are seeing and what it was they expect of their students. From there, the natural progression is to discuss what it might look like in their classrooms. This was not a top down dictate, but one where the teachers stayed involved year-after-year because, as Sara said: “who wouldn’t want to be involved in something where you not only got to leam about your kids but you also got to leam how to be a better teacher because you heard other teacher’s thinking and were expected to contribute your thoughts: which means you have to have thought about it.”Much of the research on Formative Assessment or Assessment for Learning (AfL) examines the impact this form of assessment has on student learning. AfL, as shown through my data and through the research of James (2006) and others, has a significant impact on teacher learning and on teachers making and sustaining meaningful changes in their classroom practice. When looking across the literature of teacher knowing and learning, theorists (e.g. Lave & Wenger, 1991; Schon, 1983; Guskey, 1982, 2002; Lieberman, 1999, 2002) illustrate how professionals’ understandings and practice are developed through reflective attention to how context is related to one’s practice.Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom PracticesxxviSignificanceAssessment for Learning, particularly when done collaboratively, is not only good for students; it is good for the professional growth of the teachers involved. AfL, when done collaboratively, enables the participants to situate their learning in their given context through the reflective conversations that occur while examining student work. Guskey, through his research that led to his Change Theory, has shown that teachers are willing to make changes in their practice if they see it positively impacting their students’ learning. The challenge, however, has been to get high school content area teachers to teach their students the reading skills necessary to successfully leam in that content area. Using a teacher constructed performance based assessments that is shaped around the content area of the participants scoring has, in fact, encouraged all of these teachers to incorporate the instruction of literacy skills in with the teaching of their content.LimitationsAs this was a small case study involving one school location and a particular content area, the findings cannot be generalized to all settings. A larger study, and one looking closer at the effect AfL in other content areas as well as Social Studies has on teacher learning and changes in teaching practice, is warranted.ImplicationsOne of the possible implications of this research is that it may be worthwhile for school districts to distribute the limited funds they have for professional development in a manner that allows for teachers to meet and discuss student work. While this still needs to be informed by sound educational theory, teachers need the opportunity to situate theory in with their own lived experience. Rather than spending the money on outside experts,Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom Practicesxxviischool wide professional development days together and individual teacher activities, it may be valuable to use some of the funds for content or grade alike teachers to engage in a collaborative inquiry guided by data from their student population. Some high schools are moving toward establishing set time for collaboration, which is moving toward a more effective model of professional development, but time alone will not have the impact on classroom practice we hope for. As part of the inquiry, collaboration groups are better served when they use evidence from their students to inform their conversations. In doing so, districts would likely see a notable increase in student achievement as well as an increase in the morale of the teachers because of the increased student achievement.Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom PracticesReferencesBorko, Hilda. (2004) Professional Development and Teacher Learning: Mapping the Terrain. Educational Researcher. 33(3),Butler, D.L., Schnellert, L., & Higginson, S. (2007, April) Fostering agency and co­regulation: Teachers using formative assessment to calibrate practice in an age of accountability. Poster presented at the 2007 AERA Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Available at www.ScienceDirect.com Capa-Aydim, Y., Sungur, S., Uzuntiryaki, E., (2009) Teacher Self-Regulation: examining a multidimensional construct. Educational Psychology. 29 (3), 345-356 Davies, A., Herbst, S., Reynolds, B.P. ((2008) Transforming Barriers to Assessment for  Learning. Courtenay, BC: Connections Publishing Inc Guskey, T.R., ( 2002) Professional Development and Teacher Change. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice. (8) No. 3/4 James, M., Black, P., McCormick, R., Pedder, D., Wiliam, D., (June, 2006). Learning How to Learn, in Classrooms, Schools and Networks: aims, design and analysis. Research Papers in Education. 21 (2), 101-118.Lieberman, Ann. (1999). Practices that Support Teacher Development: Transforming Conceptions of Professional Learning. Phi Delta Kappan 76 (8)Moje, Elizabeth, Birr. (2008) Foregrounding the Disciplines in Secondary Literacy Teaching and Learning: A Call for Change. Journal o f Adolescent & Adult Literacy 52 (2) 96-107.Putnam, R.T., Borko, H. (2000). What do New Views of Knowledge and Thinking Have to Say About Research on Teacher Learning? Educational Researcher. 29(1), 4- 15Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom PracticesxxixSchon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner. New York: Basic Books Wenger, E. (1998). Communities o f  Practice: Learning, meaning, and identity.Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press Wiliam, D. (2002). Linking Research and Practice: knowledge transfer o f knowledgecreation? Paper presented at British Educational Research Association 28th annual conference, London, UK.Wiliam, D. (2007/2008) Changing Classroom Practice. Educational Leadership. 65(4), 36-42Shifting Secondary Content-Area Teacher’s Classroom PracticesXXX

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