This study explored the experiences of novice elementary school teachers teaching reading or mathematics in grades 3, 4 and 5 in the high-stakes testing environment in public schools of northeastern North Carolina. The information gained from this research is meant to serve as a motivation for change regarding serving the needs of novice teachers both through their teacher education programs at universities and in their schools and school districts. The phenomenological approach was utilized to research the lived experiences of eight first- or second-year elementary school teachers. The central research question was: In a high-stakes testing environment, how do novice teachers experience teaching reading and mathematics in grades 3, 4 and 5? Face-to-face interviews generated descriptions and transcripts of interviews with co-researchers which gave the researcher a better understanding of their experiences as novice teachers. A thorough analysis revealed themes, patterns and underlying meaning. Conclusions of this research included a need for improvements in teacher education programs; an awareness of the need to address teacher strengths and weaknesses with support; the strengthening of a full array of new teacher support components including administrator training, adding new teacher mentors, promoting networking among colleagues, and professional development; the belief that student success was not based on achievement scores on standardized tests, but on growth; the admission that teachers felt high levels of stress regarding expectations of preparing students for EOG success that sometimes resulted in a fear of failure for them as teachers; and, the admission that non-tested subjects like social studies and science are often not taught. A recommendation for further study in the following areas was made as a result of this study: (a) teacher education programs and their ability to adequately prepare teachers for the standards-based classroom, (b) best practices in assessment to inform policy-makers and those who have the power to make changes in the current policy of testing and evaluation, and (c) teacher attrition in teachers teaching five years or less to study the effects of high-stakes testing and related stress on novice teachers.
|Subjects||Educational tests & measurements; Elementary education|
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