Tennessee public high school teachers' perceptions of the effects of standards-based reform on education

Stephanie C Bolah-Marshall, Tennessee State University

Abstract

This was a mixed study investigating public high school teachers' perceptions of the effects of education laws on education in Tennessee. The study examined teachers' views of the effects of standards-based reform from the viewpoints of novice and veteran teachers and from the perspectives of teachers who teach tested subjects and those who do not. The views of educators from schools that met AYP and those from schools that did not were also considered. Prior studies indicated that teachers throughout the U.S. were increasingly expressing higher stress levels, lowered morale and attitudes as a result of standards-based reform. This study assessed Tennessee high school teachers' morale and attitudes towards standards-based reform, their perceptions of its effectiveness and instructional quality. Educators from 6 high schools in one middle Tennessee school district were polled in an initial quantitative phase, using a 31-question survey on a Likert Scale. The results of the quantitative study demonstrated no substantial difference in the perceptions of novice and veteran teachers, and between teachers teaching tested subjects and those who do not. The first phase also indicated no measurable difference between teachers' perceptions of standards-based reform based on school AYP status. The second, qualitative phase consisted of 6 interviews of two veteran teachers from two different schools and two different academic areas, one tested and the other non-tested. Findings in the qualitative interviews shed light on reasons for similarities in morale and attitudes between novice and veteran teachers and give possible reasons why there is no significant difference in the perceptions of teachers based on testing, and school AYP status. From the results of this research, it appears that public high school teachers in this Tennessee school district report high levels of stress, low teacher morale due to high-stakes testing, loss of autonomy, lack of administrative support and the terms of teacher evaluations. The teachers interviewed report concerns over a substantial focus on test preparation activities and teaching to the test with the corresponding decrease in teaching critical thinking skills. Finally, flaws in the AYP system used to measure schools' achievement gains, is identified as a further cause for worry among educators.^

Subject Area

Education, Policy|Education, Secondary

Recommended Citation

Stephanie C Bolah-Marshall, "Tennessee public high school teachers' perceptions of the effects of standards-based reform on education" (2013). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3613198.
http://digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu/dissertations/AAI3613198

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