High Stakes Testing And Teacher Resistance: New York City In An Era Of Increased Accountability
High stakes tests have become the centerpiece of new educational reform movements within the United States. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 has mandated a renewed emphasis on testing. Prior to its enactment, New York State had changed the graduation requirements for schools throughout the state, raising the standards in 1996 for a high school diploma by requiring all students to take and pass a minimum number of Regents exams. This project studies the effect of these new laws and standards on teachers in New York City and how they cope with pressures that are placed on them by students, parents, administrators, and other teachers. One concept this study builds upon is test score pollution, which is used in the education literature; however, it is not fully developed in the sociology of education literature. Test score pollution focuses on teachers and administrators rather than students and is used to describe factors that affect the validity of test scores. Some test score pollution strategies include: "teaching to the test," dismissing low-achieving students on test day, and teachers altering response sheets or their interpretation of a response while scoring. It is alleged that these strategies are all used in order to improve the passing percentage of schools on regents exams. In New York high schools, teachers are the individuals in charge of grading their own students' high stakes exams. This conflict of interest leads to one common form of test score pollution called "scrubbing." Scrubbing exams involves changing the grade of an exam from failing to passing. In interviews with teachers, there have been several methods of scrubbing that have been uncovered. Teachers have mentioned that they have erased bubble sheets on regents exams, purposely reinterpreting rubrics while grading students' exams, and purposely lowered students' grades while grading the regents. A better definition of the term scrubbing along with gradations is elicited from teachers. Pressures from administrators, who currently receive incentive bonuses, to scrub are also discussed.
Education; High Stakes Tests; New York City; New York Regents; Scrubbing; Teachers; Cheating
Morgan, Stephen L.
Strang, David; Sipple, John W
Ph. D., Sociology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis