1 Background of the studyLooking closely in retrospect at the long history of languageteaching, one may identify that testing and teaching have been going hand inhand and there has been a long-standing companionship between them. TeachingEFL and ESL has always been interrelated with all types of standard assessmentand they influence each other as Malone puts it: “forming a relationship in which the twoinform and improve each other” (Malone, 2011). Assessmentliteracy is an integral component of teacher education programs. Recent years have seen increased research on classroom assessmentas an essential aspect of effective teaching and learning (Bryant and Driscoll,1998; McMillan, Myran and Workman, 2002; Stiggins, 2002). It is becoming moreand more evident that classroom assessment is an integral component of theteaching and learning process (Gipps, 1990; Black and Wiliam, 1998). Gerace, Mestra and Leanard (2000) assessmentinforms then teacher about what students think and about how they think.
Classroom assessment helps teachers to establish what students already know andwhat they need to learn. Ampiah, Hart, Nkhata and Nyirenda (2003) contend thata teacher needs to know what children are able to do or not if he/she is toplan effectively. Classroom assessment has received increased attention fromthe measurement community in recent years.
Since teachers are primarilyresponsible for evaluating instruction and student learning, there is awidespread concern about the quality of classroom assessment. Literature onclassroom assessment has delineated the content domain in which teachers needto develop assessment skills (e.g.
, Airasian, 1994; Carey, 1994; O’Sullivan& Chalnick, 1991; Schafer, 1991; Stiggins, 1992, 1997). The currentconsensus has been that teachers use a variety of assessment techniques, eventhough they may be inadequately trained in certain areas of classroomassessment (Hills, 1991; Nolen, Haladyna, & Haas, 1992; bPlake, 1993;Stiggins & Conklin, 1992).Less researched, however, is how teachersperceive their assessment practices and assessment skills Assessment literacy (henceforth AL) isthe ability to understand, analyze and apply information on student performanceto improve instruction (Falsgraf 2005, p.6). AL is vitally important for goodteaching. Eckhout, Davis, Mickelson, and Goodburn (2005, p.
3) argue that goodteaching is actually impossible in the absence of a good assessment. Despiteits crucial role in shaping the quality of teaching there is evidence thatteachers universally suffer from poor assessment literacy (Volante and Fazio2007). Several reasons have been suggested which conspire to deny teachers ofan optimal level of AL.
A commonly-held belief is that if an individual knowshow to teach a language, he or she knows how to assess the product and theprocess of language learning as well (Spolsky1978, cited in Jafarpour 2003).Such common mistaken beliefs contribute negatively to further neglect ofteachers’ knowledge base in language assessment. The intimidating appearance ofassessment, its being the only branch of applied linguistics inundated withnumbers and figures is yet another reason (Bridley 2001). Traditional deliveryapproaches to teaching assessment courses both in in-service and pre-serviceprograms have also resulted in teachers’ alienation from assessment issues(Inbar-Lourie 2008). Lukin et al. (2004) examined the effectiveness of teacher training programs in assessment.
Thefindings of the study indicated that the training programs had positivelyaffected teachers’ confidence, knowledge and skills of assessment. Languageassessment courses (LACs) are held to help teachers promote their assessmentliteracy. Jeong (2013) attempted to find out if there is any difference in thecontent and quality of LACs of different instructors_ language testers vs.non-language testers. To this end, an online instructor survey and in-depthfollow-up phone interviews were used.
The findings showed significantdifferences in the content of the courses in six topic areas: testspecifications, test theory, basic statistics, classroom assessment, rubricdevelopment, and test accommodation. Also, the results indicated a differencein the confidence of these two groups of instructors, with non-language testersbeing less confident than language testers. Malone (2013) conducted a study toelicit feedback on the content of a tutorial which was developed to promoteforeign language instructors’ knowledge of the basics of assessment. Forty-fourUS language instructors and thirty language testers participated in thisproject that were surveyed and interviewed on the content of the tutorial.
Theresults revealed that what was considered as essential technical informationregarding assessment by language testers was different from that of languageeducators. This study implies that experts’ beliefs about the basics ofassessment covered in the materials differs based on their perspective andneeds. Therefore, this factor needs to be taken into account by materialsdevelopers in developing tutorials and training programs.
O’Loughlin (2013)conducted a study to investigate assessment literacy needs of test score usersand how their needs are being met. The data for this study, related to IELTS,was collected from fifty staff at two large Australian universities through anonline survey and fifteen follow-up interviews with survey respondents. Theresults showed that the participants needed information about IELTS test inorder to guide prospective international students and that information sessionsand online tutorials were most favored ways of learning about IELTS test. Pilland Harding (2013) examined the language assessment literacy of non-practitionersby investigating the misconceptions about language testing in the discourse of13 public hearing transcripts of Australian parliamentary inquiry into theregistration processes and support for overseas trained doctors, focusing onthe parts assessing their language proficiency. The findings indicated LALproblem among non-practitioners.
This study challenges the language testingprofession to expand its scope to bridge this gap. Scarino (2013) noted that”Developing the language assessment literacy of teachers in in-serviceteacher education necessitates a consideration and integration of not only theknowledge base required for language assessment, but also inter-relatedunderstandings of language, culture and learning” (p. 324). She alsopointed to the need for test users and test developers to develop knowledge ofdifferent assessment processes in order to be able to interpret and evaluatetheir own assessment practices. This study investigates the EFL Teachers’ perceptions andpractices of classroom based assessment Literacy in terms of educational backgroundand level of teaching experience 1.2 Significance of The StudyThis study is supposed to clarify CBAL andcontribute to teacher education programs by providing guidelines with regardsto identification and evaluation of appropriate assessments for specificpurposes, analysis of empirical data to improve one’s own instructional andassessment practices, interpretation and application of assessment results inappropriate ways and integration of assessment and its outcomes into theoverall pedagogic/decision-making process.
This study seeks to expand the current research on classroombased assessment literacy by examining teachers’ assessment practices andperceptions in relation to the level of teaching experience and backgroundknowledge. According to Wiliam (2006), theadvancement of learners in learning depends on the quality of teachers. This isbecause teachers are persons who make the decisions about instruction andexamination to check whether the students have learned as planned. Suchdecision-making is related to three important components which are curriculum,instructional design, and assessment, each of which plays a major role in theteacher’s decision-making process. Decision-making may not be effective enoughif any of the components is missing (Thomas, Allman, & Beech, 2004), particularlythe assessment component.Assessment benefits both teachersand students in a number of ways: 1) it yields data that can be used to improvethe appropriateness of teachers’ teaching, 2) it enables teachers to monitorstudents’ learning throughout the year and to improve students’ learning beforeyear-end assessment, 3) it provides teachers with data to use in selectingteaching methods that are suitable for each group of students, 4) students canuse the data from the assessment and feedback to improve their knowledge andunderstanding, 5) students have a chance to develop or improve theirself-assessment ability and consider assessment as part of the learningprocess, 6) it helps students make decisions about how they can acquireknowledge and skills, and 7) it facilitates students and helps them prepare fornational examinations, especially when the format of classroom assessment issimilar to the format of the national examination (Thomas, Allman, & Beech,2004).
Classroom assessment yields importantdata for teachers regarding students’ learning, which leads to furtherdevelopment and improvement of teachers’ instruction and revision of curriculumcontent to better serve the students’ needs, enabling them to learn efficientlyand effectively (Qualters, 2001). Thus, classroom assessment is an importantmethod for developing the quality of students. Teachers who have sufficientbackground knowledge about assessment are able to integrate testing intolearning and to use an instructional format that is suitable for students(McMillan, 2000 cited in Volante & Fazio, 2007).Classroom assessment literacy isnecessary knowledge and skill for compiling data about students’ achievementand for effectively utilizing the assessment process and outcomes to improvestudents’ achievement (Chappuis et al.
, 2012). Development of teachers’classroom assessment literacy is important for the development of quality oflearning and instruction. Teachers need to continuously develop themselves interms of assessment ability. This is because teachers spend as much as 50% ofthe teaching time carrying out activities related to assessment (Stiggins, 1991cited in Plake & Impara, 1997).1.3 Purpose of the StudyThe present study pursues thefollowing seven significant purposes to begin with in this study the perceptionof the Iranian EFL teacher regarding to classroom based assessment literacy.
Firstly, this study seeks to investigate the way novice and experiencedteachers perceive classroom based assessment literacy. Secondly, the way novice and experienced EFL teachers’classroom based assessment literacy represented in their classroom practices.Thirdly, this study investigates the difference among the perceptions of novice and experienced IranianEFL teachers concerning classroom based assessment literacy.
Fourthly, the difference between novice and experiencedteachers regarding to practices of classroom based assessment literacywill be addressed. Fifthly, the way that the educational background makes a differencein the perception and practices of EFL teachers regarding classroom basedassessment literacy will be considered.Moreover, the effectof educational background on Iranian EFL teachers’ perception of classroombased assessment literacy will be studied.Finally the way educational background makes adifference in Iranian EFL teachers’ practices of classroom based assessmentliteracy will be mentioned.