A Case Study of United States History Teachers in Virginia in an Era of the Standards of Learning Assessment
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A CASE STUDY OF UNITED STATES HISTORY TEACHERS IN VIRGINIA IN AN ERA OF THE STANDARDS OF LEARNING ASSESSMENT
Jeffrey D. Carroll
The purpose of this study was to investigate the quality of classroom instruction when a single criterion, the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) United States history assessment scores, was used to assess academic outcomes for students. Policy implementation research frequently fails to include an analysis of teaching practice. The goal of this study, then, was to explore current instructional practices among a selected group of four United States History teachers and search for patterns of practice as these teachers enacted the SOLs within the United States history curriculum. A participant evaluation research approach was used for data collection in this study.
This study compared and contrasted the instructional improvement and accountability literatures and situated the implementation of the SOLs within the context of the accountability movement. It described controversies and concerns surrounding the United States History SOL Assessment. Using Duke's (1987) vision of teaching excellence as a theoretical frame for exploring instructional practice, the study portrayed how these four United States history teachers enacted the SOLs within their classrooms. Virginia's SOLs share common characteristics with other accountability efforts to influence public school curriculum and instructional practice. This study extended the literature on teachers' classroom instruction in the context of state policy reforms.
Individual portraits organized by Duke's (1987) vision of teaching excellence present the instructional practices of these four teachers. Using these portraits the study establishes three patterns of response by the participants in their curricular practice: (a) failure to ensure curriculum alignment; (b) teacher-centered and lecture-based instruction; and (c) a focus on content to the exclusion of skills. Based upon these instructional practices and curricular patterns nine implications for teaching practice related to Duke's (1987) teaching categories are identified.
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