A Case Study of Formative Assessment Processes in Preschool Special Education Settings
thesisposted on 16.02.2016, 00:00 by Cindy L. Collado
Formative classroom assessment has been recognized in early childhood educational contexts as a best practice when working with and assessing young children. It involves ongoing daily cycles of systematic inquiry about student learning and thinking that serves to inform and improve instruction. However, early childhood teachers report difficulty with interpreting and using data in the development of personalized instruction for students. The purpose of this case study was to understand formative assessment processes through the perspective of preschool teachers in special education settings. Six preschool teachers (three special education and three general education teachers) across four classrooms engaged in semi-structured and stimulated-recall interviews. They were guided in discussing their beliefs about learning and assessment, personal experiences with assessment, classroom contexts, challenges they faced when assessing students, and formative assessment processes. Additionally, observations of their instructional and assessment practices, review of their assessment artifacts, responses to a self-assessment questionnaire, and descriptive information from the Classroom Assessment Scoring System-PreK™ provided further evidence. Constant comparative analysis was employed in the development of individual cases of four classrooms enacting formative assessment processes. Additionally, themes were identified across teachers regarding their assessment processes and barriers. Results challenged and adjusted previous assessment decision-making models by bridging the formative assessment literature with similar bodies of research, including scaffolding and questioning. As a result, a revised model of formative assessment processes in preschool special education settings was developed. Barriers to enacting effective formative assessment processes included teachers’ poor assessment literacy, summative assessment mandates that were incongruent with the teachers’ values, and required summative assessment reports that limited communication with families. Implications for further research and application to practice are discussed.