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Can Interim Assessments be Used for Instructional Change?


This policy brief presents findings from CPRE's three-year research study examining the use of interim assessments and the policy supports that promote use to improve instruction, focusing on elementary school mathematics. This policy brief is based on the extensive research report, From Testing to Teaching: The Use of Interim Assessments in Classroom Instruction, written by the same authors.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation looked at how 45 elementary school teachers in a purposive sample of 9 schools in 2 districts used interim assessments in mathematics. The study focused on teachers' use of data in a cycle of instructional improvement; that is, how teachers gather evidence about student learning; analyze and interpret that evidence; use evidence to plan instruction; and carry out improved instruction.

Both the policy brief and research report review the study's key findings regarding the policy supports that existed to support data use and teachers' actual use of interim (and related formative) assessment data. They also present implications for educators, policymakers, and researchers. The authors' findings highlight the potential and limitations of interim assessments for the four stages of the cycle of instructional improvement.