Educators' perspectives on assessment: tensions, contradictions and dilemmas




Field, James Colin

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The purpose of this interview study was to understand the perspectives of 17 educators towards assessment of reading-language arts in the public education system in British Columbia, Canada. The study used G. H. Mead's (1932) notion of a "perspective" and A. Strauss' (1978) construct of a "negotiated order" to examine the dynamic, tensive relationships educators enter into with"others" (Mead, 1932) including themselves, when they carry out reading assessments in the public school. With these constructs, the development of a modern-day "mode of cognition" (Gellner, 1964) and the concomitant development of attenuating, "structural processes" (Strauss, 1978) that form the hidden backdrop to assessment are elucidated. Against this backdrop, the participants accounts, gathered through reflective conversations, were interpreted as a set of agonizing relationships (Hillman, 1983) that revolve around dilemmas inherent in assessing children's growth and ability in reading. The study concludes by exploring the nature of some of the dilemmas the educators in this study faced, and presenting an argument for the necessity of deliberation and agony in coming to know, teach and judge children in reading.



Reading, Language arts, Educational evaluation, British Columbia, Evaluation