English as a second language teachers' perceptions and use of classroom-based reading assessment.
The purpose of this study was to explore ESL teachers?? perceptions and use of classroom-based reading assessments. The research questions underpinning this study were: 1) What types of classroom-based reading assessments are used in ESL classrooms and how are they used? 2) What are ESL teachers?? perceptions regarding the function and effectiveness of classroom-based reading assessments? 3) What and how do external factors influence ESL teachers?? use of classroom-based reading assessments? 4) What and how do internal factors influence ESL teachers?? use of classroom-based reading assessments? The participants of this study were six middle school ESL teachers and seven elementary school ESL teachers. Data consisted of interviews with the participating ESL teachers, classroom observations, and assessment materials. The finding of this study indicated that there were three kinds of classroombased reading assessments commonly used by ESL teachers in the classrooms: tests, observation, and using writing to assess reading. These classroom-based reading assessments served ESL teachers in two ways: helping teachers make decisions about individual students and helping teachers make decisions about instruction. In addition, classroom-based reading assessments were viewed as effective instructional instruments. ESL teachers highly valued classroom-based reading assessments, considered them accurate and valuable, and thought these assessments could provide great help to the daily teaching of reading. Students, statewide mandated standardized tests, and districts were three major forces that influenced this assessment process. Four conclusions can be drawn from this study. First, classroom-based reading assessments played a central role in ESL teachers?? teaching and assessing of reading. Second, ESL teachers highly valued classroom-based reading assessments, considering them valuable, accurate, and efficient. Compared to statewide mandated standardized testing, ESL teachers preferred classroom-based reading assessments. Third, ESL teachers?? use of classroom-based reading assessments was largely under the control of districts or school authorities and there were many disagreements on the ways of assessing reading of ESL students between teachers and the districts or schools. Finally, statewide mandated standardized testing had distorted ESL teachers?? use of classroom-based reading assessments in practice.