Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Richard L. Allington

Committee Members

Anne McGill-Franzen, Gary Skolits, Stergios Botzakis

Abstract

Today, under the federal mandates of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), test scores are being used for ways and means in which they were never designed, normed or intended (Linn, 2003). As a result, the purposes and uses of high-stakes tests have become a source of concerned debate among stakeholders, who see the consequences of high-stakes testing as having significant effects within the larger educational reform known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) (Amrein & Berliner, 2002b). Allington (2002) has stated that NCLB has dramatically changed the testing story, making high-stakes tests one of the leading and central characters of the current reform. Previous research of high -stakes testing has tended to exclude the voice of those closest to the issues and concerns – the teacher. Utilizing quantitative survey methodology, two central research questions guided this research, asking:

1. What are the consequential effects of high-stakes testing on teachers’ pedagogy and practice?

2. What are the consequential effects of high-stakes testing in relation to teachers’ work and identity?

This study examined the perceptions of teachers currently working within the high-stakes testing environment in Southeastern Tennessee. A review of the literature is presented, as well as results from a 63-item survey of teachers. Analyses of these data reveal that high-stakes testing does indeed affect teacher pedagogy, practice and identity in highly unfavorable ways. Results from this study represent 408 teachers responding to the survey instrument. Additionally, 125 teachers responded to an optional open-ended text question reporting that high-stakes tests both influence and impact instruction and most importantly contradicts teachers' views of sound educational practice. Results indicated that elementary teachers teaching in below average performing schools situated in rural areas are the most profoundly impacted by high-stakes testing.

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