Title page for ETD etd-04282003-153343

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Bolt, Melanie A.
URN etd-04282003-153343
Title Teachers'' Perspectives on the Standards of Learning School Reform in Virginia
Degree PhD
Department Educational Research and Evaluation
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Singh, Kusum Committee Chair
Cross, Lawrence H. Committee Member
Fortune, Jimmie C. Committee Member
Garrison, James W. Committee Member
Magliaro, Susan G. Committee Member
  • classroom effects
  • teacher professional autonomy
  • standards
  • school quality
  • instructional strategies
  • testing
  • student learning
  • teacher tension
  • high-stakes accountability
  • curricula
Date of Defense 2003-04-16
Availability unrestricted
This study discussed the need for a broader public discourse on high-stakes accountability-based school reform that underscores teachers’ perspectives. Also, the study discussed the need for fuller disclosure of the possible undesirable classroom effects of the reform. To address these needs, the study described teachers’ perspectives on the Standards of Learning (SOL) school reform in Virginia, focusing upon teachers’ views on the reform’s classroom effects. The domains of interest were (1) the adequacy of curriculum and the diversity of teachers’ instructional strategies, (2) the quality of student learning, (3) teachers’ sense of professional autonomy and level of teacher tension, and (4) school quality. The study examined whether there are differences in teachers’ views based the income level of the school locale where teachers teach (low-, middle-, or high-income), the school type (elementary, middle, or high school) in which they teach, and teachers’ status on whether they teach a SOL-tested subject (yes/no).

The participants of the study included 360 randomly selected teachers who were listed as members of Virginia Education Association (VEA). A survey research design was employed. The instrument included 80 Likert-type items, eight demographic items, and three open-ended questions. Inferential and descriptive statistics were reported for eight scales of the survey as were thematic trends in the qualitative data. The study’s results suggested that the SOL program contributes to a hurried, high-pressure classroom culture that depletes the potentiality of the very ends of education the program is intended to achieve.

Teachers tended to report (1) an inadequacy of the SOL content standards, (2) a reduction of teachers’ use of diverse instructional strategies and an inability of the SOL program to meet diverse student needs, (3) arbitrary SOL test cut-scores, (4) an inadequacy of the SOL pass rates to represent school quality, (5) a lack of diagnostic usefulness of SOL test scores, (6) an inadequacy of SOL testing and SOL test scores to hold schools accountable, (7) teachers’ sense of diminished professional autonomy, and (8) teachers’ mounting tension in the classroom. These results were juxtaposed to the views of policymakers and business leaders, the public at large, parents, and scholars in the field of education concerning the issue of high-stakes accountability-based school reform. Finally, the study discussed a conflict related to the purpose of public schooling between a prevailing narrative of many policymakers and business leaders and what have been the marginalized views of classroom teachers.

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