Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

James McMillan


Increased state and federal accountability measures have made the assessment of student performance one of the most critical responsibilities of classroom teachers; yet, inadequate opportunities for preservice and inservice training leave many teachers feeling ill-prepared for this task. Adding to the complexity of building teachers’ assessment literacy is the relationship between assessment beliefs and classroom assessment practices. This quantitative study utilizes a validated, online survey to examine how elementary teachers’ (n = 79) define their assessment beliefs (conceptions) and how these beliefs influence which assessment practices are valued within the classroom. Findings suggest that despite teachers’ limited exposure to assessment training, four distinct assessment beliefs exist within the elementary classroom: assessment for school accountability, assessment for student certification, assessment for improvement of teaching and learning, and assessment as irrelevant. Assessment for the improvement of teaching and learning yielded the highest composite mean and was negatively correlated with the irrelevance belief and positively related to school accountability. An analysis of the importance of assessment practices revealed authentic assessments, short answers, teacher-made assessments, and performance assessments as the most valued, while publisher assessments and major exams had the lowest means. Significant relationships were identified between demographics and beliefs and practices, with the most practical findings related to exposure to assessment training and level of degree attainment. Significant relationships were also noted between all beliefs and the value of specific assessment practices, with the exception of the irrelevance belief. No significant relationships were noted between the irrelevant belief and value of assessment practices; however, many negative correlations were documented. Results are discussed in light of other research, indicating that a greater understanding of assessment beliefs and importance of practices can contribute to the development of relevant professional development aimed at the improvement of teachers’ assessment pedagogies and practices can contribute to greater educational success.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

January 2011