A large body of research indicated that high quality formative assessment is associated with increased student achievement. Research also shows that student and teacher collaboration on learning goals is essential to high quality formative assessment - feedback increases student involvement in their own learning and assessment. Despite the importance of classroom assessment, many teachers do not receive sufficient training on the subject, with many indicating they need more professional development in this area. Andrea Beesley and co-authors described an impact study of one professional development program, Classroom Assessment for Student Learning (CASL). Developed by the South Carolina Department of Education, CASL focuses on increasing teacher skill in creating and understanding classroom assessments in ways that support student learning. Researchers chose to study CASL because it is well-established and widely used.
This study focused on the programs impact on teacher assessment knowledge, involvement of their students in assessment, and assessment practice, as well as student mathematical achievement. This study randomly assigned 67 Colorado schools to the CASL program or the control groups, the former receiving CASL materials forming learning teams while the latter participated in regular professional development activities and classroom assessment activities. This study consisted of a CASL training year for CASL groups from 2007 to 2008, followed by an implementation year from 2008 to 2009.
Results of this study show that students in CASL schools had a slightly higher adjusted mean on state mathematics exams than students in control group schools. The impact of CASL on adjusted school mean mathematics was not statistically significant. CASL did, however have a positive and statistically significant impact on schools' adjusted average score on the Test of Assessment Knowledge. CASL teachers also involved their students in assessment related activities for 9% more days than control-group teachers. Though results indicate that CASL did not have a significant impact on student mathematics achievement, CASL did have positive impacts on teacher assessment knowledge and student involvement. With these results, this study adds important information to the conversations surrounding teacher professional development and student achievement.