Ways of seeing children as literacy learners in an independent elementary school: Implications for assessment and change

Carol A White, University of Pennsylvania


To a much greater degree than in traditional assessment, the quality of alternative assessment is directly affected by how well teachers are prepared in the relevant assessment skills, specifically observation of children's literate activity. It is this focus on informal assessment as a key component of Hamilton School's instructional program, and of education in general, that prompts my investigation.^ I argue that the quality of informal assessment will be directly affected by how well teachers understand that they must be willing to go beyond the initial assumptions about what they observe. What teachers see is deeply affected by what they bring to the act of seeing. Critical and careful examination of beliefs and values is necessary if teachers are to put students' best interests first.^ My intervention as a principal and staff developer is designed to explore how broad the teachers' conception of literacy is at Hamilton School. I plan to investigate the congruence between the teachers' dialogue about students literacy learning and their actual assessment practices with regard to children's reading and writing development. I also propose to encourage teachers to examine their beliefs and values about literacy and assessment. By working collaboratively to observe, document, reflect on, and discuss teachers' direct observations of the students' learning, the teachers as inquirers may be able to use the evidence obtained through this co-investigation as the basis for making improvements in assessment. This research investigates that possibility and the implications for professional development. ^

Subject Area

Education, Tests and Measurements|Education, Elementary|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Reading

Recommended Citation

Carol A White, "Ways of seeing children as literacy learners in an independent elementary school: Implications for assessment and change" (January 1, 1997). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI9727017.