Teacher Perceptions of Post No Child Left Behind Elementary Teacher and Student Test Anxiety
Heath, Elizabeth Vernon
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The purpose of this pilot and main study was to examine teachers' perceptions of the post No Child Left Behind (NCLB) elementary classroom, the perceived changes, and the implications for teachers' feelings of empowerment and student test anxiety. Previous investigators have agreed that the teacher's voice has been missing, but needed in test anxiety research. By engaging veteran teachers who had experience both before and after the enactment of NCLB in reflective conversation about their experiences, valuable information was gained concerning whether or not teachers felt empowered to perform their duties and what impact they perceived that high stakes standardized testing has had on both teacher anxiety and student test anxiety. This information could be used to inform educational practice and decision making. Triangulation of data sources included narrative data collected through face-to-face interviews with the teachers, the writing of field notes, interview process notes, and reflective journal entries from both the pilot and main studies. Three clear themes emerged that fit the division of the data by the research questions: change in the teachers' experiences, change in teaching vocabulary, and change in the students' experiences. These themes emerged through a process of categorical-content perspective analysis for coding the data and sorting it into themes. The Hermeneutic narrative analysis approach was used to analyze and identify the meaning of these related experiences and stories. The context of the pilot and main studies was elementary schools in a rural school system in the Southeastern United States. The participants were eleven elementary teachers from grades three through five with experience before and after NCLB enactment who taught core academic subjects. Member checks of the interview transcripts and data analysis enhanced the credibility of these reports. The analysis revealed both positive and negative perceptions of the changes in the classroom experience of these elementary teachers, their feelings of empowerment, and the impact of the changes on the test anxiety of their students. Participants across the pilot and main studies indicated that increased stress, pressure, frustration, and professional struggles have had a negative impact on teacher anxiety, teacher efficacy beliefs, and student test anxiety.
- Doctoral Dissertations