All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Nataliya Ivankova

Advisory Committee Members

Margaret Rice

William Rogan

George Theodore

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2010

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) requires schools to be held accountable for academic performance. It is believed the pressure of accountability will lead teachers to narrow the curriculum by engaging students in test preparation activities. The purpose of this two-phase, explanatory mixed methods study was to examine elementary teachers' perceptions of the impact of the Stanford Achievement Test 10 (SAT-10) and the Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT) on classroom teaching practices from a sample of third-grade, fourth-grade, and fifth-grade teachers in three large school systems in Alabama. The purpose of the first, quantitative phase of the study, was to reveal teachers'perceptions of the impact of high-stakes testing on curriculum and instructional approaches, the amount of time spent on critical thinking skills, the amount of time spent on test preparation activities, and the perceived impact of state tests on students and teachers by surveying 123 third-grade through fifth-grade teachers in three large Alabama school systems. In the second, qualitative phase of this study, purposeful sampling strategy and maximal variation sampling strategy were employed to interview nine teachers who responded to the survey in the first, quantitative phase of the study to explore the results from the statistical tests in more depth. Findings suggested urban teachers spent more time on critical-thinking skills than rural and suburban teachers, and low-socioeconomic, rural teachers experienced more stress caused by high-stakes testing than their geographical counterparts. All teachers independent of socioeconomic status or school geographical location reported they increased their focus on reading and math, which were the subjects assessed on high-stakes tests, and de-emphasized subjects not tested such as social studies and science. Finally, most teachers reported they decreased the teaching of critical thinking skills due to the SAT-10 but increased the teaching of critical thinking skills due to the ARMT. Due to the lack of research regarding high-stakes testing in Alabama elementary schools, there was a need for teachers to discuss the specific impact of testing on classroom teaching practices because they work directly with students and are cognizant of the challenges that teachers face.

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