Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Raymond J. Ostrander

Second Advisor

Larry D. Burton

Third Advisor

Luana L. Greulich

Abstract

Problem.

Since the turn of the twenty-first century, political mandates have been the driving force behind educational decision-making. The execution of the federal Race to the Top Assessment Program in 2009 ushered in a new era of accountability measures for educators, resulting in a significant increase in the number of state assessments, including the implementation of the Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination (IREAD-3) summative assessment in the spring of 2012. Within this model of top-down, political decision-making, the collective voice of educators has been minimized as instructional practice has been driven by student performance on standardized assessments. The purpose of this study, then, was to explore the impact of the IREAD-3 on the professionalism and instructional practices of elementary teachers in order to provide a voice for these important stakeholders.

Method.

By incorporating a phenomenological methodological approach, this study examined the lived experiences of twelve early-primary educators from a school district located in Northern Indiana. In-depth interviews were conducted using a semi-structured format, which included the use of open-ended questions. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed. After the initial analysis, gaps regarding perceptions of professionalism, curricular rigor, and increased testing emerged; these required additional follow-up interviews.

Findings.

A set of super-ordinate and supporting themes emerged which uncovered the common or shared experiences of twelve participants. This occurred through a detailed analysis of in-depth interviews and follow-up questionnaires. The following five superordinate themes emerged: imposed change, reactive instruction, the paradox of testing, teaching under pressure, and loss of autonomy. This led to an examination of the essence, understanding the essential features of the central experience of teaching after the implementation of the IREAD-3, which, when constructed, focused on the themes portraying both what was experienced and how the participants responded. The essence of these shared experiences emerged as teachers in bondage.

Conclusions.

The implementation of the IREAD-3 has impacted both instructional practice and professional autonomy among the elementary teachers. Educators have been constrained by the bondage of ignorance, the bondage of culpability, and the bondage of professional oppression. With a renewed understanding of the impacts of high-stakes testing on educators, efforts to eliminate this bondage must follow. Therefore, this study provides necessary research to inform parents, administrators, and politicians regarding future decision-making and to bring about positive change.

Subject Area

IREAD3 (Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination), Reading (Primary)--Indiana, Reading teachers--Indiana

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