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Assessment Culture Versus Testing Culture: The Impact on Assessment for Learning

Part of the The Enabling Power of Assessment book series (EPAS,volume 4)


In this chapter, I contrast two school cultures—assessment culture (AC) and testing culture (TC)—and examine their potential to support or inhibit assessment for learning. First, I compare the two cultures with regard to the mindset that each culture reflects and then with regard to classroom learning, teacher professional learning, and leadership, addressing their interrelationships and their effects on formative school-based assessment. I further compare the impact of external accountability tests on AC and TC schools. In the discussion, I contrast the schools with regard to an underlying dimension of internal coherence, addressing the conditions that foster and those that hinder such coherence. I then explain why AC, as opposed to TC, is conducive to the successful implementation of assessment for learning, and identify the challenges in transforming a TC into an AC. I conclude with recommendations to guide such a transformation.


  • Professional Development
  • Collective Efficacy
  • Testing Culture
  • Lesson Study
  • Classroom Learning

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  1. 1.

    School culture refers to ‘the underground stream of norms, values, beliefs, traditions, and rituals that has built up over time as people work together, solve problems, and confront challenges’ (Peterson and Deal 1998, p. 28).

  2. 2.

    A mindset is an implicit theory or a set of beliefs held by people that influences their feelings, choices, behaviors, and outcomes (Dweck 2006).


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I would like to thank Ayelet Keren, Helena Kimron, Yamit Markovich, Simon Sadres-Leibovich, Neria Shahor, and Hany Shilton for providing the data on which this paper is based.

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Correspondence to Menucha Birenbaum .

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Birenbaum, M. (2016). Assessment Culture Versus Testing Culture: The Impact on Assessment for Learning. In: Laveault, D., Allal, L. (eds) Assessment for Learning: Meeting the Challenge of Implementation. The Enabling Power of Assessment, vol 4. Springer, Cham.

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