Dr. Derek Copp

Teacher-based reactivity to provincial large-scale assessment in Canada

Year: 2015

Jo Ritzen, Louis Volante and Jan van den Brakel

This study examines how (or if) teachers change their instructional practices based on the results data from large-scale testing completed annually in all Canadian provinces. Public school teachers at all grade levels were asked about instructional change (or how 'reactive' they are) based on provincial assessment data. Positive reactivity is defined to include those instructional practices and strategies that are both ethical and broaden the number and variety of outcomes presented to students. Negative reactivity is defined as a set of instructional strategies and practices which are either unethical or reduce the number or variety of outcomes presented to students. Data were collected in a nationwide survey of teachers to gauge the amount and type of reactivity effects as well as responses regarding the background variables which may go some way to explain them. Follow up interviews were also conducted with different stakeholders in the educational hierarchy to complement the survey analyses. Conclusions drawn were that (a) teachers are generally quite reactive to large-scale assessment data although some provincial variations are apparent; (b) more teachers report negative reactivity than positive reactivity practices; (c) variables that are strongly related to more positive reactivity strategies included positive test attitudes, the sharing of data between teachers, division-level supports, perceived pressure, and age; and (d) variables that have strong correlations to negative reactivity effects included the return of more aggregated and disaggregated data, perceived pressure on teachers, and teaching at higher grade levels.