Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
A suburban middle school located in the southeastern United States included differentiated instruction and technology in all aspects of the curriculum. Teachers at this school received professional development on differentiated strategies; however, many teachers did not apply the strategies to assessments and continued to use traditional assessments despite the poor performance of their students on class evaluations. This qualitative case study, rooted in constructivist theories, examined middle school teachers' perceptions and use of alternative assessments. All 6th Language Arts teachers were selectively invited to participate in my study because they teach a core 6th grade subject, four teachers responded and consented to complete an open-ended survey on their use of assessments, to participate in individual interviews about their perceptions of alternative assessments, and to submit teacher lesson plans indicating assessment use. Descriptive analysis of the survey responses from the four Language Arts teachers revealed the participants infrequently differentiated their assessments. Content analysis of lesson plan assessments supported this finding, indicating that most evaluation activities included traditional tests and quizzes. Interview data were analyzed with typological coding and thematic analysis. Findings revealed that participants endorsed the effectiveness of alternative assessments of student learning, but used traditional assessments mostly due to ease of creation and grading. Participants noted that with increased collaboration, the use of alternative assessments could be supported. This study may promote social change at the study site and its school district by providing data to help plan and develop training focused on differentiated assessments, allowing teachers to share strategies and plan differentiated assessments that enhance student-centered learning environments.