Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Anju Jolly

Abstract

Once viewed as a way to establish educational placement, high-stakes testing is used to establish benchmarks for success within school systems. Within a local Utah school district, raising these benchmarks has been deliberated due to a steady decline in Grade 8 language arts scores, which has heightened concerns among local school administrators and teachers. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the perceptions of teachers on how to improve declining Grade 8 language arts test scores. Based on the theoretical concepts of constructivism, 3 research questions were created to examine the underlying factors of the steady decline in Grade 8 language arts test scores, teachersâ?? perceptions of decline in Grade 8 test scores, and current instructional practices used by teachers to prepare students for high-stakes testing. Through semi-structured interviews, data were collected from a sample of 7 language arts teachers who held an academic degree in language arts area and were a faculty member at the selected school. Comparative analysis and the open coding process were used to find themes in the data. Specific themes included the need for change, different influences, and varying instructional practices to increase test scores each academic year. An individualized instructional curriculum might help increase test scores. A 3-day, in service workshop focused on helping teachers recognize current issues with test preparation and offered methods to help improve student learning through multiple intelligence-based instruction. This study contributes to social change within local Grade 8 language arts classrooms by providing information to educators on how to increase high-stakes test scores on an annual basis and increase overall student achievement.

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