Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Michael Jazzar


Students, educators, and schools across the country have been presented with challenges as a result of rigorous standards and high-complexity tests. The problem addressed in this case study was that teachers in a rural middle school in a southeastern state were preparing students to take a new high-stakes state-mandated assessment in English language arts with very little information about what should be done to best prepare students to perform well. Danielson's work on instructional leaders, Webb's work on alignment of standards and assessments, and Tankersley's research on alignment of instruction and assessment provided the frameworks for the study. The participants were 6 teachers and 2 administrators at a local rural middle school who either taught English language arts or supervised those teachers before the first administrations of the new test. The research questions were designed to gather through interviews, local educators' descriptions of their test preparation methods, activities, the information and training provided to them prior to the new tests, and their views about what was needed to better prepare students. Interview data were coded and analyzed for common themes. Findings were that participants felt they had limited prior information about the tests, that their previous instructional methods were ineffective, and that local teachers needed training in order to design and implement effective reading instruction aligned with test objectives to better prepare students for more rigorous academic tasks. This study and the resulting professional development project for teachers have the potential to affect positive social change at the local level by helping teachers improve literacy instruction aligned with standards and assessments. Consequently, students will be better prepared to access the increased rigor of the standards and the assessments.