Teachers' Decision-Making about Place-Based Education and State Testing

Timothy G. Thomas


This qualitative study examined the effects of a high-stakes, standardized test on teachers' instructional planning at a rural school. The research addressed this question: How do mandated curricular standards affect teachers' instructional planning and content selection? Ethnographic interviews (Creswell, 1998) examined four secondary teachers' perceptions of the effects of high-stakes standardized tests on their work. Case study methodology (Yin, 1994) guided the analysis of the data. Each participant had several years' experience teaching at Mollusk Island School, and each teacher had previously included place-based lessons (e.g. environmental studies, cultural history) in his/her repertoire. Ultimately, the study explored how a community maintenance function of small rural schools might be affected by state legislation for standardized accountability.

Special thanks to Dr. Daniel P. Hallahan, Chair, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, for assistance in funding the researcher's access to Mollusk Island School.

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