If at First, You Don’t Succeed: Instructional and Institutional Responses for Students Who Fail a High-Stakes Mathematics Exam in High School
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This study sought to understand the impact of high-stakes testing policy on classroom by focusing specifically on teachers. Testing policy is part of the larger context in which teachers operate and make instructional decisions. In focusing on teachers, the intent of this study was to understand the dual roles of teachers as instructors and policy enactors, and how the state’s testing policy impacts the instructional decisions teachers make in their classrooms. Two high school mathematics teachers were the focus of this qualitative study; both teachers were in the same school, which had a recent history of low pass rates on state exams. Mathematics was the focus due to the public attention that students’ mathematics performance draws, and due to efforts to improve student outcomes in mathematics. As part of secondary graduation requirements, students must pass one End-of-Course (EOC) exam in mathematics (Algebra I, Geometry, Integrated Math I, and Integrated Math II are offered as options). Students’ performance on the mathematics EOC exams have critical implications for their academic progression and graduation prospects, prompting attention to secondary mathematics teachers’ experiences with EOC testing policy, and how the policy may influence their instruction. One Algebra I teacher and one Geometry teacher agreed to participate in this study. Teachers were asked to discuss their experiences with EOC testing policy, as well as their school’s efforts to improve students’ EOC mathematics exams pass rates, particularly for students who have failed a mathematics EOC exam prior and must retake the exam.
- Education - Seattle