The influence of high stakes testing on elementary classroom instruction
Policymakers from both political parties and the general public see standardized tests as easily quantifiable measures of school quality and student learning. They assume these high stakes tests will motivate teachers and students to try harder and that the results will be used systematically to benefit all students. Since schools operate with a finite amount of resources, any time or money they dedicate to passing the test is time and money they cannot spend on educating all students. The purpose of this study was to investigate how the new high stakes testing environment and the new state assessments have influenced elementary teachers' approach to preparing students for standardized tests. Campbell's law was used to examine whether the utilization of educational and instructional triage was an inevitable result of high stakes testing. Study participants included nineteen experienced third through fifth grade teachers in a suburban district in a small, Midwestern town. The research indicated that education and instructional triage was occurring, although there was more instructional triage then educational. Teachers are resigned to high stakes testing, therefore assessments drive their instruction, and they define student success by their score on the test. High stakes testing has led to increased accountability and data driven instruction, however low stakes testing also creates these benefits without the undue pressure. Future research is needed in light of the passage of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Educational and School Psychology