Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dr. Richard Penny



The reauthorized No Child Left Behind requirement for annual state-mandated student examinations led some teachers to believe that they must teach solely for test preparation. This case study explored teachers' perceptions of preparing students for the state-mandated tests at an economically disadvantaged high school in the southeastern United States. Ten teachers were interviewed to understand their perceptions of â??teaching to the test,â?? feelings of pressure and stress, motivation to teach, and recommendations for integration of creative teaching strategies. The researcher collected demographic data, such as gender, grades taught, and subjects taught, and manually calculated frequencies and percentages. With an electronic software program for qualitative data management, the researcher analyzed the data manually by iterative review of the interview transcripts for codes and themes. Teachers' perceptions of standardized test preparation were both positive and negative. Preparation fostered discipline and content mastery but inhibited teacher creativity and stressed students. Teachers experienced pressure and stress with unhealthy physical reactions, lack of competence, and responsibility to students. Teachers' motivations were both positive and negative. Some experienced increased self-efficacy, and other experienced decreased motivation; commitment to students; and inadequate institutional support. Teachers recommended incorporation of creative teaching strategies and professional development (PD) programs. Findings led to a PD for addressing the problems and creative strategies (e.g., reciprocal teaching, graphic organizers). Findings may help teachers reduce negative feelings toward standardized test preparation and use innovative strategies for students' more effective learning.

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