"I no longer teach history, I teach S.O.Ls:" Navigating the curricular and instructional minefield of a high-stakes educational environment

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Virginia Tech

Over the last several decades, the field of education has the seen the introduction and normalization of high-stakes standardized testing as part of the educational routine. With this introduction, questions concerning how these standardized tests have altered the educational landscape for teachers remain. 'Teaching to the test' has become a household phrase, one that can have both positive and negative undertones.

To better understand how teachers negotiate the influences over their curricular and instructional decisions requires the studying of both their planning and implementation processes as well as how they interact with the official curriculum. Guiding this investigation are two comprehensive questions. How does a veteran teacher's understanding of historical significance impact how they ascribe value to the purpose, nature and utility of history as a school discipline over time and space? How tightly aligned are a veteran teacher's conceptions and perceptions of the purpose, nature and utility of history as a school subject with their observed pedagogical practices? This study sought to investigate the various influences over a teachers' curricular and instructional decision-making by building on previous research. Through interviews, surveys, classroom observations, and collecting documents, I was able to capture the planning and implementation routines of a veteran teacher. Through these methods, it was discovered that the multitude of influences were much more fluid and intertwined than first thought. This study sheds light on the web of influences teachers have to operate in on a daily basis.

historical significance, gatekeeping, high-stakes testing, first-order knowledge, second-order knowledge