Teachers'' Perspectives on the Standards of Learning School Reform in Virginia
Bolt, Melanie A.
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This study discussed the need for a broader public discourse on high-stakes accountability-based school reform that underscores teachersâ 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 teachersâ perspectives on the Standards of Learning (SOL) school reform in Virginia, focusing upon teachersâ views on the reformâ s classroom effects. The domains of interest were (1) the adequacy of curriculum and the diversity of teachersâ instructional strategies, (2) the quality of student learning, (3) teachersâ sense of professional autonomy and level of teacher tension, and (4) school quality. The study examined whether there are differences in teachersâ 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 teachersâ 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 studyâ 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 teachersâ 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) teachersâ sense of diminished professional autonomy, and (8) teachersâ 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.
- Doctoral Dissertations