Document Type

Research Report

Original Publication Date


Date of Submission

June 2016


The recent popularity of benchmark testing has become closely tied to formative assessment. Formative assessment has traditionally focused on a process in which evidence elicited from classroom assessments is used to provide feedback to students and inform instructional correctives (McMillan, 2007: 2010, Popham, 2008). However, accountability demands have led to widespread implementation of benchmark, interim, periodic, or quarterly testing at the school or district level that is often labeled “formative.” Indeed, some in the testing industry believe that benchmark testing is formative assessment. For example, the definition of benchmark testing by the Regional Education Laboratory Mid-Atlantic is that “a benchmark assessment is a formative assessment” (Brown & Coughlin, 2007, p.2). However, as pointed out by Goertz, Olah, and Riggan (2009), research on the effectiveness of formative assessment has defined it as a practice that is “embedded within classroom instruction” (p1). There is very little research that examines how benchmark testing data are used as formative assessment as defined by the classroom assessment literature (Goertz, et al.; Perie, Marion, & Gong, 2009). The purpose of this study was to explore the extent to which teachers’ described using benchmark testing data in formative ways, to identify factors that support teachers; use of test results to enhance instruction and improve student learning, as well as to identify barriers hat may limit usage.

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