Practices and attitudes towards standards based education

Start date: 12 oktober 2009

Marjolein Deunk, Mechteld van Kuijk, Lieneke Ritzema

long term/indirect policy relevant 

Summary of the project

One could say teachers are the key to educational reform: they are the ones who apply new policy and new approaches to the classroom and have a direct influence on children’s educational environment (De Corte, Verschaffel, Entwistle, & van Merriënboer, 2003; Hattie, 2003). For educational reform to succeed, teachers need to implement new approaches well. Therefore, it is important for teachers to understand the background and goals of the reform and hold a positive attitude towards it. To gain insight in teachers’ knowledge and attitudes with regard to performance standards we analyzed existing Dutch studies, conducted several open-ended interviews and formulated a set of questions for a large scale questionnaire on teachers’ knowledge, practices and attitudes towards performance standards, testing, differentiation, pedagogy and teaching.

The interviews were conducted with 9 primary school teachers. The teachers teach in the north of the Netherlands, have ½ to 32 years of teaching experience (mean: 18 years) and taught younger classes in primary education at the time of the interview (from grade 1 to grade 4/5). Two main topics appeared in the interviews, namely teachers’ concerns about weaker students and their high expectations of the usefulness of clear teaching goals. We concluded that to implement performance standards well, teachers should have goals at their disposal that are also useful for weaker performing students. Furthermore, teachers should be well assisted in implementing performance standards, lest their positive expectation of the practical use will turn into disappointment (Deunk, 2010).

The large scale questionnaire is based on the results of the interviews in combination with existing studies (Black & Wiliam, 2001; Black & Wiliam, 2004; Blok, Otter, & Roeleveld, 2001; Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Ledoux, Blok, & Boogaard, 2009; Lomos, Hofman, & Bosker, 2011, submitted; Onderwijsraad, 2008; Roeleveld & Béguin, 2009; Van Eekelen, Vermunt, & Boshuizen, 2006; Vrielink, Hogeling, & Brukx, 2009; Wahlstrom & Louis, 2008). The questionnaire is sent out to over 1000 K1-grade 8 teachers and school directors, of which almost 800 responded. The respondents have an average teaching experience of 17 years (range 0-43 years). The questionnaire of in total 110 questions consists of 3 components, which are composed of different scales and indexes. The components are data driven teaching (56 questions), including standards based education, use of performance tests and feedback; differentiation (34 questions), which involves attention to both low and high performing students; and professional development (17 questions) including cooperation in school teams. Cluster analysis is used to measure the level of data driven teaching, differentiation and professional development in teachers and school teams (Deunk, Doolaard, & Hofman, 2011).

Current status of the project:

The results of the first administration of the questionnaire will be related to performance data of the teachers’ students. Approximately half of the respondents are or will be involved in school development projects. The questionnaire will be administered again to the same group of respondents in Spring/Summer 2012, in order to study the relationship between (changing) teacher and school practices, knowledge and attitudes, participation in the school development projects and student performance.



Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2001). Inside the Black Box. Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment. King's College London School of Education:

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2004). The Formative Purpose: Assessment Must First Promote Learning. In M. Wilson (Ed.), Towards Coherence Between Classroom Assessment and Accountability (pp. 20-50). Chicago: NSSE.

Blok, H., Otter, M. E., & Roeleveld, J. (2001). Het gebruik van leerlingvolgsystemen anno 2000. Amsterdam: SCO-Kohnstamm Instituut.

De Corte, E., Verschaffel, L., Entwistle, N., & van Merriënboer, J. (2003). Powerful learning environments: Unravelling basic components and dimensions. Amsterdam: Pergamon.

Deunk, M. I. (2010). Zijn juf dacht dat ook al. Didaktief, 40(8), 15-17.

Deunk, M. I., Doolaard, R., & Hofman, R. (2011). Attitude en gedrag van basisschoolleerkrachten met betrekking tot het verbeteren van leerlingresultaten. Resultaten van de beginmeting bij leerkrachten. Groningen: GION.

Hattie, J. (2003). Teachers Make a Difference. What is the research evidence? , Australian Council for Educational Research Annual Conference on: Building Teacher Quality

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112.

Ledoux, G., Blok, H., & Boogaard, M. (2009). Opbrengstgericht werken. Over de waarde van meetgestuurd onderwijs. Amsterdam: SCO-Kohnstamm Instituut.

Lomos, C., Hofman, R. H., & Bosker, R. J. (2011, submitted). Professional communities and student achievement – a meta-analysis.School Effectiveness and School Improvement,

Onderwijsraad. (2008). Opbrengstgerichtheid en wegwerken van tekorten. Den Haag: Onderwijsraad.

Roeleveld, J., & Béguin, A. (2009). Normering van referentieniveaus in het basisonderwijs. Amsterdam: SCO-Kohnstamm Instituut.

Van Eekelen, I. M., Vermunt, J. D., & Boshuizen, H. P. A. (2006). Exploring teachers’ will to learn. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(4), 408-423.

Vrielink, S., Hogeling, L., & Brukx, D. (2009). Opiniepeiling Kwaliteitsagenda PO. Nijmegen: ResearchNed.

Wahlstrom, K. L., & Louis, K. S. (2008). How teachers experience principal leadership: The roles of professional community, trust, efficacy, and shared responsibility. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44(4), 458.


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