From a recent paper on how teachers use data from assessments (CPRE, 2009):
“Overall, we found that teachers who focused on students’ conceptual understanding using one type of assessment were more likely to do so for all types of assessment, including interim assessments. This suggests that analytic or diagnostic capacity underlies effective formative assessment, regardless of whether those assessments are embedded within instruction, developed by teachers, or externally designed.”
The authors recommend providing better training to teachers on how to use data: “professional development for interim assessment use should go beyond using ‘point and click’ to locate and organize data and should emphasize analysis of student results in the context of standards and curriculum.”
Whether teacher training can fill this gap, or whether the pool of teachers needs to be adjusted, the paper provides a necessary reminder of the dangers of installing new technology without first understanding how it will generate the desired results.
(Thanks to Sarah Tantillo, NJ charter school pioneer and literacy expert, for bringing this study to my attention.)