Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Pauline Stonehouse


This research examines the role of assessments of student learning in the United States, specifically a school system in North Dakota, comparatively to that of a school system in Surrey, England. Using a conceptual framework that is influenced by the work of Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis, and Chappuis with the Assessment Training Institute (2011) and the Assessment Reform Group (2002) on creating effective, balanced assessments for learning, three questions guided my study:

1. What are secondary (students ages 14-18) educators' beliefs about what, why, how, and for whom school systems are assessing students' learning?

2. What is the difference between educators' beliefs about assessment and the processes in which they assess students' learning?

3. Do educators perceive a balance of assessments of students' learning?

Through a qualitative approach, I analyzed educators' experiences and perspectives on the role of assessments in establishing valid and meaningful instruction on a standardized curriculum that is tied to student, teacher, and school system accountability. By creating two matrices in which I considered the causal, contextual, and intervening conditions in the process of assessing students' learning at both "Greenbriar High School" in North Dakota and at "Whitmoor College" in Surrey, England, I was better able to conceptualize the school-wide processes in which educators assess students' learning--the actions, interactions, and consequences of these assessments reflect my three assertions that educators assess students' learning for standardization, systemization, and accountability.

This process also helped me to more accurately interpret my data by analyzing the similarities and differences in the culture and climate of the assessment process between the two schools. The implications of my findings suggest school leaders must create a unified goal for school improvement, establish and oversee a comprehensive action plan, and provide differentiated professional development to foster a system that supports balanced assessments.