Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Sydney M. Parent


Since changes to the reading/language arts State Subject Area Test (SSAT) in late 2010, elementary education teacher candidates at a teacher training college in the Southern United States have experienced declining scores resulting in test failure and delaying student teaching and graduation. The purpose of this case study was to identify factors that students and faculty perceived as most beneficial in preparing students to pass the SSAT. Constructivism served as the conceptual framework for this study addressing the effects of collaboration, hands-on learning, and application of knowledge. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit 6 elementary education students who had taken the SSAT and 4 full-time reading and language arts faculty members who participated in semistructured interviews. Analysis of coded data indicated themes of preference for experiential learning, intensive strategy instruction, and a review of tested content. Based on study findings, a 3-day professional development training was created to provide students a review of tested subject matter through embedded strategy instruction and opportunities for hands-on application of learning. Implications for positive social change include preparing students to pass the SSAT in fewer attempts so they can graduate on schedule and begin their careers. Local communities may benefit from the addition of highly qualified teachers ready to enter elementary classrooms across the state during a critical teacher shortage.