1 informs then teacher about what students think

1       
Introduction

1.1      
Background of the study

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Looking closely in retrospect at the long history of language
teaching, one may identify that testing and teaching have been going hand in
hand and there has been a long-standing companionship between them. Teaching
EFL and ESL has always been interrelated with all types of standard assessment
and they influence each other as Malone puts it:  “forming a relationship in which the two
inform and improve each other” (Malone, 2011). Assessment
literacy is an integral component of teacher education programs. Recent years have seen increased research on classroom assessment
as an essential aspect of effective teaching and learning (Bryant and Driscoll,
1998; McMillan, Myran and Workman, 2002; Stiggins, 2002). It is becoming more
and more evident that classroom assessment is an integral component of the
teaching and learning process (Gipps, 1990; Black and Wiliam, 1998).  Gerace, Mestra and Leanard (2000) assessment
informs then teacher about what students think and about how they think.
Classroom assessment helps teachers to establish what students already know and
what they need to learn. Ampiah, Hart, Nkhata and Nyirenda (2003) contend that
a teacher needs to know what children are able to do or not if he/she is to
plan effectively. Classroom assessment has received increased attention from
the measurement community in recent years. Since teachers are primarily
responsible for evaluating instruction and student learning, there is a
widespread concern about the quality of classroom assessment. Literature on
classroom assessment has delineated the content domain in which teachers need
to develop assessment skills (e.g., Airasian, 1994; Carey, 1994; O’Sullivan
& Chalnick, 1991; Schafer, 1991; Stiggins, 1992, 1997). The current
consensus has been that teachers use a variety of assessment techniques, even
though they may be inadequately trained in certain areas of classroom
assessment (Hills, 1991; Nolen, Haladyna, & Haas, 1992; bPlake, 1993;
Stiggins & Conklin, 1992).

Less researched, however, is how teachers
perceive their assessment practices and assessment skills

Assessment literacy (henceforth AL) is
the ability to understand, analyze and apply information on student performance
to improve instruction (Falsgraf 2005, p.6). AL is vitally important for good
teaching. Eckhout, Davis, Mickelson, and Goodburn (2005, p. 3) argue that good
teaching is actually impossible in the absence of a good assessment. Despite
its crucial role in shaping the quality of teaching there is evidence that
teachers universally suffer from poor assessment literacy (Volante and Fazio
2007). Several reasons have been suggested which conspire to deny teachers of
an optimal level of AL. A commonly-held belief is that if an individual knows
how to teach a language, he or she knows how to assess the product and the
process of language learning as well (Spolsky1978, cited in Jafarpour 2003).
Such common mistaken beliefs contribute negatively to further neglect of
teachers’ knowledge base in language assessment. The intimidating appearance of
assessment, its being the only branch of applied linguistics inundated with
numbers and figures is yet another reason (Bridley 2001). Traditional delivery
approaches to teaching assessment courses both in in-service and pre-service
programs 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. The
findings of the study indicated that the training programs had positively
affected teachers’ confidence, knowledge and skills of assessment. Language
assessment courses (LACs) are held to help teachers promote their assessment
literacy. Jeong (2013) attempted to find out if there is any difference in the
content and quality of LACs of different instructors_ language testers vs.
non-language testers. To this end, an online instructor survey and in-depth
follow-up phone interviews were used. The findings showed significant
differences in the content of the courses in six topic areas: test
specifications, test theory, basic statistics, classroom assessment, rubric
development, and test accommodation. Also, the results indicated a difference
in the confidence of these two groups of instructors, with non-language testers
being less confident than language testers. Malone (2013) conducted a study to
elicit feedback on the content of a tutorial which was developed to promote
foreign language instructors’ knowledge of the basics of assessment. Forty-four
US language instructors and thirty language testers participated in this
project that were surveyed and interviewed on the content of the tutorial. The
results revealed that what was considered as essential technical information
regarding assessment by language testers was different from that of language
educators. This study implies that experts’ beliefs about the basics of
assessment covered in the materials differs based on their perspective and
needs. Therefore, this factor needs to be taken into account by materials
developers in developing tutorials and training programs. O’Loughlin (2013)
conducted a study to investigate assessment literacy needs of test score users
and 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 an
online survey and fifteen follow-up interviews with survey respondents. The
results showed that the participants needed information about IELTS test in
order to guide prospective international students and that information sessions
and online tutorials were most favored ways of learning about IELTS test. Pill
and Harding (2013) examined the language assessment literacy of non-practitioners
by investigating the misconceptions about language testing in the discourse of
13 public hearing transcripts of Australian parliamentary inquiry into the
registration processes and support for overseas trained doctors, focusing on
the parts assessing their language proficiency. The findings indicated LAL
problem among non-practitioners. This study challenges the language testing
profession to expand its scope to bridge this gap. Scarino (2013) noted that
“Developing the language assessment literacy of teachers in in-service
teacher education necessitates a consideration and integration of not only the
knowledge base required for language assessment, but also inter-related
understandings of language, culture and learning” (p. 324). She also
pointed to the need for test users and test developers to develop knowledge of
different assessment processes in order to be able to interpret and evaluate
their own assessment practices.  This  study 
investigates  the EFL Teachers’ perceptions and
practices of classroom based assessment Literacy in terms of educational background
and level of teaching experience

 

1.2      
Significance of The Study

This study is supposed to clarify CBAL and
contribute to teacher education programs by providing guidelines with regards
to identification and evaluation of appropriate assessments for specific
purposes, analysis of empirical data to improve one’s own instructional and
assessment practices, interpretation and application of assessment results in
appropriate ways and integration of assessment and its outcomes into the
overall pedagogic/decision-making process. This study seeks to expand the current research on classroom
based assessment literacy by examining teachers’ assessment practices and
perceptions in relation to the level of teaching experience and background
knowledge.

According to Wiliam (2006), the
advancement of learners in learning depends on the quality of teachers. This is
because teachers are persons who make the decisions about instruction and
examination to check whether the students have learned as planned. Such
decision-making is related to three important components which are curriculum,
instructional design, and assessment, each of which plays a major role in the
teacher’s decision-making process. Decision-making may not be effective enough
if any of the components is missing (Thomas, Allman, & Beech, 2004), particularly
the assessment component.

Assessment benefits both teachers
and students in a number of ways: 1) it yields data that can be used to improve
the appropriateness of teachers’ teaching, 2) it enables teachers to monitor
students’ learning throughout the year and to improve students’ learning before
year-end assessment, 3) it provides teachers with data to use in selecting
teaching methods that are suitable for each group of students, 4) students can
use the data from the assessment and feedback to improve their knowledge and
understanding, 5) students have a chance to develop or improve their
self-assessment ability and consider assessment as part of the learning
process, 6) it helps students make decisions about how they can acquire
knowledge and skills, and 7) it facilitates students and helps them prepare for
national examinations, especially when the format of classroom assessment is
similar to the format of the national examination (Thomas, Allman, & Beech,
2004).

Classroom assessment yields important
data for teachers regarding students’ learning, which leads to further
development and improvement of teachers’ instruction and revision of curriculum
content to better serve the students’ needs, enabling them to learn efficiently
and effectively (Qualters, 2001). Thus, classroom assessment is an important
method for developing the quality of students. Teachers who have sufficient
background knowledge about assessment are able to integrate testing into
learning and to use an instructional format that is suitable for students
(McMillan, 2000 cited in Volante & Fazio, 2007).

Classroom assessment literacy is
necessary knowledge and skill for compiling data about students’ achievement
and for effectively utilizing the assessment process and outcomes to improve
students’ achievement (Chappuis et al., 2012). Development of teachers’
classroom assessment literacy is important for the development of quality of
learning and instruction. Teachers need to continuously develop themselves in
terms of assessment ability. This is because teachers spend as much as 50% of
the teaching time carrying out activities related to assessment (Stiggins, 1991
cited in Plake & Impara, 1997).

1.3      
Purpose of the Study

The present study pursues the
following seven significant purposes to begin with in this study the perception
of the Iranian EFL teacher regarding to classroom based assessment literacy.   Firstly, this study  seeks 
to  investigate   the 
way  novice and experienced
teachers 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 Iranian
EFL teachers concerning classroom based assessment literacy. Fourthly,  the difference between novice and experienced
teachers regarding to practices of classroom based assessment literacy
will  be 
addressed. Fifthly,  the way  that  the educational background makes a difference
in the perception and practices of EFL teachers regarding classroom based
assessment literacy  will  be 
considered.Moreover,  the effect
of educational background on Iranian EFL teachers’ perception of classroom
based assessment literacy will be studied.Finally   the way educational background makes a
difference in Iranian EFL teachers’ practices of classroom based assessment
literacy will  be   mentioned.

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