COMPUTER SOFTWARE PRODUCTS FOR CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT PURPOSES
The need for higher quality assessments and more efficient means to obtain them is fairly well established. Teachers spend as much as one third to one half of their time involved in assessment-related activities (Stiggins & Conklin, 1992). Research by Morine-Dershimer (1979), Joyce (1979a, 1979b), and Shulman (1980) found that teachers rely on their own assessments as the primary source for student achievement data. Dorr-Bremme (1983) and Yeh (1978) estimated that one third to three quarters of classroom assessments are developed by teachers. Because teachers create their own assessments and rely primarily on them, it is important to know what assessment techniques teachers are currently using. A study of teacher-made tests by Flemings and Chambers (1983) found the following: Teachers use short answer questions most frequently; all teachers, including English teachers, avoid essay questions; teachers use more matching items than multiple choice or true-false items; and 80% of teacher-made tests are composed of items that test knowledge ofterms, facts, and principles. Carter's (1984) research findings showed that teachers have difficulty identifying items that measure specific skills-especially higher order thinking skills. In addition, the technical quality of teacher-made items is not routinely evaluated (Stiggins & Bridgeford, 1985). The lack of attention paid to the technical quality of classroom assessments is further confounded by evidence that teacher-developed tests use too few items (Fleming & Chambers, 1983). Although there may be a tendency to associate classroom assessments with paper-and-pencil exams, teachers most frequently
use informal observational assessments to gather information about students (Salmon-Cox, 1981). These findings, in conjunction with the increased emphasis on a variety of skills and objectives that may not lend themselves to traditional paper-and-pencil methods of assessment, suggest a need for modern informationprocessing technologies.