Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


School Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Elvin S. Gabriel

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Franka Chin Hong



This study explored how high-stakes testing (HST) and burnout affected the quality of primary school teachers in Trinidad and Tobago. HST refers to school exams often required by government agencies that are used to make key decisions pertaining to students, teachers, and schools (Embse & Hanson, 2012). Burnout is defined operationally as a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and impaired personal accomplishment induced by repeated workplace stressors (Maslach & Schaufeli, 2017). Quality of life (QoL) is the measure of an individual’s ability to function physically, emotionally, and socially within his/her environment at a level consistent with his/her own expectations (World Health Organization [WHO] 2002). In Trinidad and Tobago, primary school teachers face high levels of stress and burnout due to the pressure of HST, which have been criticized for its negative impact on student, learning, curriculum, and equity. (Gowrie et al., 2015). The paucity of literature regarding how HST affects teacher QoL (Cunningham 2021) was cause for concern as teacher QoL has implications for their professional development, retention, and satisfaction, as well as for the quality of education they provide to their students.


This quantitative study adopted a non-experimental correlational design to examine the relationship among the predictor variables of perceptions of HST and burnout and the dependent variable, QoL. The data were collected by a survey administered to 322 teachers who taught standards four and five. Descriptive and inferential statistics using structural equation modelling were used to answer the following research questions. • What is the quality of life among primary school teachers in Trinidad and Tobago? • What perceptions do primary school teachers have of high stakes standardized testing? • What are the levels of burnout among the teachers? • To what extent do perceptions of high stakes standardized testing and burnout predict quality of life among primary school teachers?


The impact of HST on burnout among teachers preparing students for the Secondary Entrance Assessment in Trinidad and Tobago was positive and significant (β = 0.26, t = 3.319, p = < .001); the impact of burnout on QoL of the teachers was positive and significant (β = .79, t = 6.749, p = < .001). The impact of HST on QoL without burnout was positive and significant (β = .181, t = 2.764, p = .006), and the impact of HST on QoL in the presence of burnout was negative and insignificant (β = -0.03, t = -.501, p = .620). Therefore, burnout fully mediated the impact of HST on QoL.


In general, teachers of the Secondary Entrance Assessment classes in Trinidad and Tobago experienced a moderately satisfactory QoL; they were not sure how they felt about HST. The stress and pressure associated with HST, and specifically the Secondary Entrance Assessment, contributed significantly to burnout, specifically to high emotional exhaustion. However, approximately 2% of the teachers presented with high burnout, approximately 1% presented with medium burnout, and approximately 3% presented with low burnout.

Subject Area

Primary school teachers--Trinidad and Tobago--Job stress; Burn out (Psychology); Primary school teachers--Rating of; Quality of life

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