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Effects of Standardized Testing Practices on Literacy Development For Primary Level Students

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Felicia Bates
Abstract:
Researchers have documented the importance of authentic learning and assessment and the effects of each on literacy development. However, there are inconsistencies among assessment instruments and a lack of information regarding how standardized, summative assessments jeopardize literacy development in young elementary students. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the effects of standardized testing practices on literacy development for kindergarten, 1 st -, and 2nd -grade students attending Title I schools. The theoretical foundation of this study was based on the constructivist and behaviorist teaching models and the subsequent effect on current teaching and assessment practices. The main research question focused on the impact of mandated testing practices on literacy development for kindergarten, 1 st -, and 2nd - grade students in Title 1 schools in a southern US state. Data were collected through 15 unstructured interviews, 15 classroom observations, and document reviews and were analyzed using Hatch's typological analysis method. The collected data revealed that mandated standardized testing affects the instructional methods used by elementary teachers, which in turn impedes literacy development for kindergarten, 1 st -, and 2nd - grade students. Further, the study supported existing research on the effectiveness of constructivist teaching practices and established constructivism as a direct link to literacy development for young elementary students. The resulting data should provide sufficient evidence to encourage educators to change summative testing protocols for primary students and implement authentic assessments, which would have a positive impact on student literacy development.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study ................................ ................................ .................... 1 
 Backg round ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 1 
 Problem Statement ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 3 
 Nature of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 5 
 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 8 
 Conceptual Framework ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 9 
 Operational Definitions ................................ ................................ ................................ 13 
 Scope and Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 14 
 Assumptions ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 15 
 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ............................. 15 
 Summary and Transition ................................ ................................ .............................. 21 
 Chapter 2: Literature Review ................................ ................................ ............................. 22 
 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 22 
 Current Perceptive ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 22 
 Reading Assessment Practices ................................ ................................ ..................... 24 
 Effects of Authentic Testing on Literacy Development ................................ .............. 28 
 Reading Standards and Curriculum ................................ ................................ ............. 30 
 Constructivism ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 31 
 Legislated Reading Initiatives ................................ ................................ ...................... 35 
 Positive Outcomes from NCLB ................................ ................................ ................... 36 
 Effects of NCLB on Student Achievement ................................ ................................ .. 38 


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Effects of NCLB on Curriculum ................................ ................................ .................. 39 
 Effects of NCLB on Literacy ................................ ................................ ....................... 40 
 Summary and Conclusion ................................ ................................ ............................ 42 
 Chapter 3: Research Method ................................ ................................ .............................. 48 
 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 48 
 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 48 
 Context of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 50 
 Measure for Ethical Protection ................................ ................................ .................... 51 
 Role of the Resear cher ................................ ................................ ................................ . 52 
 Criteria for Participant Selection ................................ ................................ ................. 52 
 Data Collection Procedures ................................ ................................ .......................... 52 
 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 53 
 Reliability and Validity ................................ ................................ ................................ 55 
 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 56 
 Chapter 4: Presentation and Analysis of Data ................................ ................................ ... 58 
 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 58 
 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 58 
 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 59 
 Interviews for Topic 1 ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 61 
 Artifacts and Observation Notes for Topic 1 ................................ ............................... 70 
 Interviews for Topic 2 ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 71 
 Artifacts and Observation Notes for Topic 2 ................................ ............................... 74 


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Inte rviews for Topic 3 ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 76 
 Artifacts and Observation Notes for Topic 3 ................................ ............................... 85 
 Collected Artifacts and Observation Summary ................................ ........................... 88 
 Chapter 5: Discussion, Conclusions, and Recommendations ................................ ............ 90 
 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 90 
 I nterpretation of Findings ................................ ................................ ............................ 91 
 Implications for Social Change ................................ ................................ .................... 95 
 Recommendations ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 96 
 Reflection ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 97 
 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 98 
 References ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 100 
 App endix A: Participant Interview Questions ................................ ................................ . 112 
 Appendix B: Participant Invitation Letter ................................ ................................ ........ 114 
 Appendix C: Observation Protocol (Jan esick,2004) ................................ ........................ 115 
 Appendix D: Teacher Concent Form ................................ ................................ ............... 116 
 Appendix E: List of Codes by Topic ................................ ................................ ............... 119 
 Curriculum Vitae ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 121 


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Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study

Background

Historically, the U.S. education system has made an effort to meet the needs of its citizens by aligning the political, philosophic al, and social climate of a particular era (Spring, 2008). Throughout the 18 th and 19 th centuries, the earliest conception of public education was designed to meet the religious and social needs of school - age children

(Spring, 2008; Alexander & Alexander, 2005) . In contrast, to meet political demands of globalization t he current trend in education is an emphasis on standardized testing and teacher accountability (Kedian, 2006; Marzano, 2010). Virtue and Vogler (2007) acknowl edged that education reform is a top priority for politicians and educators, but they question ed the reasoning behind some of the assessment initiatives mandated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB , 2002 ) legislation. Further, the paradigm shift from meeting religious and social needs of U. S. children to an emphasis on summative assessment results has prompted researchers to examine the effects of NCLB on reading and math achievement ( Cawelit , 2006 ; Kedian, 2006; Marzano, 2010; Perkins - Gough , 2004 ; Petrie , 2007 ; Virture & Vogler , 2007 ).

The

NCLB legislation has incited great debate on how to achieve positive results

for student learning outcomes without jeopardizing student achievement

( Virture &

Vogler , 2007 ) . In its current state , NCLB requires that all children become proficient in readin g and math by 2014. By law, each state is allowed to set their level of proficiency for these basic skills and create performance - based standards (P.L. 107 - 110, NCLB ,

2002).

Kedian (2006) declared that b ecause of NCLB, educators find themselves teaching

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ch ildren how to be good test takers instead of teaching children how to be lifelong learners. Kedian, a proponent of constructivism, argue d that student achievement is adversely a ffected because of the tremendous focus placed on preparing students to perform well on high stakes tests. Further research ( Cawelit , 2006 ; Perkins - Gough , 2004 ; Petrie , 2007 ; Virture & Vogler , 2007 )

has state d that U.S. schools are experiencing a decline in fine arts and civic instruction. According to the Center of Education Policy

(as cited in Cawelit, 2006) , 71% of the school systems in the U nited S tates have reported a reduction in instructional time in nontested subject areas . Although the NCLB legislation has mandated states to make curriculum and assessment changes, growth in s tudent achievement has not been documented ( Begeny & Silber, 2005).

Currently, testing data does not reveal U.S. students are making positive growth in reading or math. In spite of the use of standardized tests, the majority of published data have indicate d that reading scores have not consistently made positive gains over the past decade (Applegate, Applegate, McGeehan, Pinto, & Kong, 2009; Begeny & Silber, 2005, p.183 ; Wallis & Steptoe, 2007 ). In addition to the lack of growth in reading, Darwin and Fleis chman (2005) pointed out that data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed a learning gap between W hite and minority students in G rades 8 and 12 when the test results were disaggregated . While research data neither prove s nor dis prove s that NCLB is directl y linked to student achievement , the research has consistently indicated a documented discrepancy between NAEP data and data presented by individual states.

Applega te et. al (2009) and Wallis and Steptoe (2007) concluded that the national state average in reading is 40% lower than NAEP scores. Consequently,

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rather than presenting positive findings for reading and math achievement, NCLB has presented school systems across the United States with a number of curriculum and assessment setbacks (Kedian, 2006; Neill, 2006; Perkins - Gough , 2004 ; Petrie , 2007 ; Virture & Vogler , 2007 ). A lack of uniformity across state boundaries and a deemphasis in nontested curriculum are hindering many students from receiving a well - rounded education (Nei ll, 2006) . Research done by Begeny and Silber (2005) suggested that teachers we re reporting a number of students working below proficiency in reading, yet those same students we re able to score proficient on the state achievement test. Applegate

et al. ( 20 09 ) and Peterson and Hess ( 2005 )

showed a lack of uniformity among U.S. tested standards as one reason for achievement discrepancy . Finally, Neill expressed

concerns from a growing number of teachers who

we re questioning whether the hype concerning testing

had impeded their ability to facilitate an appropriate education.

Consequently, published data does not show that the achievement gap between Whites and minorities is closing nor does it indicate growth in reading and math achievement.

Problem Statement

Education policies regarding student accountability have caused schools across the United States to identify problems with 4 th - , 8 th - , and 12 th - grade student reading achievement (Cawelit, 2006; Kedian, 2006; Perkins - Gough, 2004; Petrie, 2007; Posner, 2 004; Virture & Vogler, 2007). At a local level, it appears that mandated testing authorized by NCLB (2002) has prompted school administrators to place emphasis on an end of the year summative assessment for all students with an added emphasis placed on kin dergarten, 1 st - , and 2 nd - grades. Currently, federal and state government laws do not

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require primary students to be assessed; however, local school systems servicing Title I schools in northwest Tennessee do require primary level testing. This problem affe cts kindergarten, 1 st - , and 2 nd - grade students because more emphasis is placed on testing as a means to prepare students for the required high stakes testing given in Grades 3 - 12 instead of building a firm basis in reading and math skills (Barrier - Ferreira , 2008).

Moreover, an initial review of the literature revealed two concerns. First, the nature of the relationship between federal testing mandates and student achievement is unclear for primary aged students. Second, it is not known if mandated testing a ffects student ac hievement in kindergarten, 1 st - , and 2 nd - grades. Researchers have noted the importance of student achievement; however, there is a limited amount of research available on how testing affects literacy development (Cawelit, 2006; Kedian, 20 06; Perkins - Gough, 2004; Petrie, 2007; Virture & Vogler, 2007).

Therefore, while educators acknowledge the importance of educating students and improving reading skills, it is not understood how standardized testing impacts literacy development for kinder garten, 1 st - , and 2 nd - grade students attending Title I schools in northwest Tennessee. If this link can be established, it will contribute to the body of knowledge needed to change education policies regarding testing protocol for kindergarten, 1 st - , and 2 nd - grade students. The problem of how standardized testing influences literacy development affects students, educators, school districts, and states because students are scoring proficient on state tests, yet these same students are not proficient on the NAEP nor are they proficient according to classroom performance indicators.

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Nature of the Study

The main research question for this study was: How does standardized testing impact literacy development for kindergarten, 1 st - and 2 nd - grade students in Titl e 1 schools in northwest Tennessee? This research study was best suited for a qualitative case study design, as described by Creswell (2007, 2009) and Yin (2009) because the study began with a single problem or concept. Creswell (2009) suggested researcher s collect data on site and select authentic participants. Moreover, Creswell (2009) and Yin suggested that the case study method could provide authentic and extensive data into existent problems or issues. Creswell (2007) and Yin concurred that researchers using qualitative methods are in pursuit of improving their understanding

of how participants perceive the issues being studied. Thus, qualitative case design best suited the needs of this inquiry because it

guided the exploration of the effects of standa rdized testing on

literacy development

for kindergarten, 1 st - , and 2 nd - grade students attending Title I schools in northwest Tennessee. This case study involved

data collection from

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unstructured teacher interviews, along with classroom observations and collection of classroom artifacts that focus ed on literacy development. The observations were done in the respective interviewee’s classroom . Observations were conducted during reading instruction and / or scheduled assessments . Collected data were analyzed for patterns and themes using Hatch’s (2002) typology method .

The rationale for the case study was based in a review of literature, but more specifically comes from the direct association the researcher has with the teaching community in a rural Tennessee school district. The discrepancies noted from teacher

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cohorts in the areas of student reading achievement and student performance in the classroom is the primary rationale for the case study.

Typically, in qualitative research the researcher plays a domi nant role in data collection and data analysis. Creswell (2009) asserted that the qualitative researcher’s role involves a shared, ongoing encounter with the participants in an authentic setting.

This researcher was in charge of all data collection and dat a analysis and maintaining an in - depth experience with the participants.

Furthermore, Janesick (2004) noted the importance of selecting and building a mutual association with participants. For this case study, p articipant selection was based on the follo wing criteria: teachers with at least one completed year of teaching experience, teachers who were responsible for teaching reading , and teachers who were

responsible for giving student assessments.

First, data were collected from 15 teacher interviews, c lassroom observations, and artifacts.

Ha tch (2002) defined qualitative interviews as “ a way to discover how participants think and how they view their personal experiences” (p. 91). Hatch listed three different kinds of interviews: formal, informal, and st andardized . Based on Hatch’s discussion , the data collection best suited for this case study was informal interview.

Rubin and Rubin (2005) described this form of data collection , the informal interview as “ a conversational encounter ” (p.

14) . The duration of the se informal interviews was approximately 40 minutes. A digital recorder was used for the audio taping process. After recording the interviews , the audio file was uploaded to a computer for transcription . The interviewees were asked to read and check the transcripts for accuracy.

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Second, observations were

made in kindergarten, 1 st - , and 2 nd - grade classrooms of teachers that have been selected for interviews. Notes were taken using a laptop computer and prudent artifacts were collected. Permission to interview teachers and to observe classroom s was addressed to the director of schools .

Next, Hatch (2002) described data analysis as an organized process, which allows the researcher to synthesize data and produce valid and reliable details. Hatch’s disc ussion

regarding typological analysis was applied to th e researcher’s collected data and analysis. Data were gathered using observations, interviews, and classroom documents such as curriculum, syllabi, lesson plans, and test results .

The voices in this ca se study were elementary reading teachers . Creswell (2007) added that in the process of collecting data the researcher would be able to identify and establish major themes or topics that are pertinent to the research question. This validate d the use of typ ological

analysis because data were collected from more than one participant.

B ased on Hatch’s (2002) discussion of analy sis models, the researcher followed

the steps outlined by Hatch’s typological analysis model ( p. 153). The first step included identif ying topics for analysis. Specifically, the research study asked teachers to identify their teaching philosophies and discover if or how government assessment mandates effected literacy development. The researcher recorded teacher interviews on an electron ic recording device. During observations, the researcher used a laptop computer to record observation notes. After the interviews were transcribed and observation notes finalized, the researcher read and sorted gathered data by topic then recorded main ide as that emerged on a data summary sheet. The researcher took the data from the summary

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sheet to identify patterns within the identified topics. After topical patterns were identified, the researcher read through the data, then coded and assigned data to th e appropriate pattern. Coding was followed by an analysis of data to determine if topical patterns were supported by data and if any nonexamples were prevalent within the identified patterns.

Finally, in order to complete the analysis of interview data, M icrosoft Office 2008 was used to open a copy of the coded transcripts, the original copy of interview questions, and observation notes. Data was compared to the defined topics and the

research er’s interview questions . Next, there was an examination of the transcripts to determine if the interviewees made specific comments directly related to the research question . The researcher rechecked the coded data to see if examples suit the domains or topics. Specifically, using Microsoft Office 2008, the researcher used the find or search function to locate each code. The researcher organized, copied, and pasted all data by code into a document created for the organized data . The researcher organized data to look for topical relationships based on the responses of al l interviewees, clas sroom observations, and artifacts. Patterns were written in one - sentence generalizations and followed by extracted data that supported the generalization (Hatch, 2002).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this qualitative case study w as to explore how standardized testing affects literacy development for kindergarten, 1 st - , and 2 nd - grade students attending Title I schools in northwest Tennessee. Fifteen elementary teachers were selected for interviews and classroom observations. All da ta collected were analyzed for patterns, themes, and

9

links associated with the research question by using Hatch’s (2002) typology method. Currently, the effects on literacy development are generally defined as examining the emphasis that teachers place on state - mandated testing practices and how teaching practices affect literacy development in young children. This case study was not an intervention study; even though some students may have improved their reading skills, reading improvement was not the focu s of this study.

Conceptual Framework

After reviewing scholarly literature and research, it remains unclear how standardized testing effects literacy development for kindergarten, 1 st - , and 2 nd - grade

students in northwest Tennessee Title 1 schools. U.S. legislators have attempted to close the achievement gap and improve reading, math, and science scores by implementing standards - based instructional and accountability protocols ( Begeny, Codding, Du nn, & Kleinmann, 2006; Kedian, 2006; Main, 2008; Posner, 20 04; Stuckard & Glanz, 2007) . However , peer - reviewed literature published throughout the past decade support the fact that U.S. testing mandates are not showing growth in reading skills among elementary and secondary students (Cech, 2007; Darwin & Fleischma n, 2005; Jehlen, 2009) . Further,

Glasersfeld (2005) and Kedian, Main, Posner, and Walker (2002) indicated the NCLB assessment guidelines and accountability measures were not developed to improve teaching or assessing for comprehension of knowledge but wer e equated to Skinner’s behaviorist model. Specifically, Fosnot and Perry (2005) and Glasersfeld suggested that Skinner’s behaviorist model was the guiding influence for U.S. lawmakers to develop and implement curriculum standards which are broken into segm ents, and assessment

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instruments measurements designed to test segments of a skill or concept. In contrast, the constructivist learning model focuses on the whole acquisition and comprehension of knowledge (Colburn, 2007; Dewey, 2008). Colburn and Dewey ag reed that repeated tasks would lead to a performance outcome. However, simple repetition is not effective because it confines the learner to isolated information (Colburn, 2007; Dewey, 2008). Instead Dewey, a proponent of constructivism, believed that when students are allowed to explore and investigate ideas or concepts they can problem solve and render decisions centered on a thorough understanding.

In addition to Dewey’s (2008) philosophical approach to constructivist teaching and learning, Colburn (200 7) and McInerney (2005) credited Piaget with developing

constructivism as a teaching and learning theory. Piaget believed students use personal experiences to construct and retain meaningful knowledge (McInerney, 2005). During the last century the construc tivist learning model was sidelined, noting that constructivism research conducted prior to the year 2000 was limited in scope (McInerney, 2005). Throughout the 20 th century Skinner’s behaviorist model earned credibility, resulting in the behaviorist’s ped agogy becoming firmly engrained in the U.S. educational system (McInerney, 2005). The acceptance of behaviorism is evidenced through the widely accepted use of isolated standards and summative standardized testing practices (Adams, 2006; Fosnot & Perry, 20 05; Glasersfeld, 2005; McInerney, 2005; Pegues, 2007). Education in its present form revealed teachers teach to the test, pressuring students to do well on state - mandated summative assessments (Adams, 2006; Begeny et.al, 2006 ;

Kedian , 2006 ; Main, 2008; McI nerney, 2005; Posner, 2004; Stuckard & Glanz, 2007;

11

Walker, 2002 ) . In contrast, Adams et al, (2006)

advocated , “the constructivist’s model of education gives the learner control to construct meaning and acquire in - depth knowledge that can be applied to hig her order thinking skills and problem solving” (p.250). Finally, for the past several decades the constructivist teaching and learning theory was deemphasized. Instead, the behaviorist teaching and learning model was commonly accepted and used to shape fe deral and state instruction and assessment practices.

Moreover, the discussion regarding the behaviorist and constructivist learning models is relevant to the conceptual framework of this study because of the overwhelming amount of published literature th at documented the behaviorist model influence on U.S. education guidelines and mandates (Colburn , 2007; Fosnot & Perry, 2005; Glasersfeld, 2005; McInerney, 2005; Pegues, 2007). As a result of U.S. testing

mandates, Adams (2006) contended that a single summ ative assessment could be used to predict acquisition of knowledge. Yet, standardized tests could completely disregard cognitive advancement and only be an indicator of a student’s test taking ability (Adams, 2006; Kedian, 2006; Posner, 2004).

Furthermore , the literature asserted that student - centered or constructivist - teaching practices are affected by mandated accountability measures (Adams, 2006; Kedian, 2006; Posner, 2004). More specifically, the literature indicated that the emphasis placed on summati ve test data is a direct by - product of U.S. testing protocol; however, the literature does not adequately address how elementary literacy development and student achievement are affected by federal accountability measures (Adams et al., 2006;

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Kedian, 2006; Main, 2008; McInerney, 2005; Posner, 2004; Stuckard & Glanz, 2007; Walker, 2002).

Finally, after exploring the phenomenon testing mandates may or may not have on literacy development, Adams (2006) suggested that when student achievement is based solely o n tests scores it could be devoid of what the student has actually internalized. Adams warned that “teaching to the test prepares students to become excellent test takers with little emphasis placed on acquiring knowledge and lifelong learning skills” such as rea ding (p .

244). More importantly, the United States has not seen a rise in overall reading achievement especially in low economic groups and areas with large minority populations (Cech, 2007; Darwin & Fleischman, 2005; Jehlen, 2009). A NAEP study con ducted in 12 states reported no significant gai ns in reading scores from fourth grade students (Cech, 2007; Darwin & Fleischman, 2005; Jehl en, 2009). In addition to fourth grade reading scores, Darwin and Fleischman (2005) and Jehlen (2009) analyzed testin g data over a period of 39 years and reported that a learning gap in reading

and writing remains between W hite and other racial groups of eighth grade students. In Jehlen’s report, NAEP reading test data were analyzed in two periods . The first data range, 1971 - 1988 , showed that W hites outscored other racial groups by 18 points . Despite the overall rise in reading test scores, the second data range , 1998 - 2007 , showed that W hites outscored other racial groups by 27 points

( Darwin & Fleischman, 2005; Jehlen, 2 009 ). Therefore, the absence of growth in reading achievement as evidenced in the literature and the influence of U.S. teaching and assessment practices defined the relevance of this case study. The research explored how reading teachers perceived the

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prev alence of summative testing and how teaching to a summative test affected student literacy development.

Operational Definitions

The following list of terms is used throughout the study :

Authentic assessment: The Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership a nd Administration (2006) stated authentic assessment measures a student’s ability to create or produce genuine products that show an in - depth understand of content ( para. 10).

Behaviorism:

Fosnot (2005) described behaviorism as a way to teach small segment s of information or train participants to efficiently acquire segments of a skill (p. ix ).

Constructivism :

Fosnot (2005) described

constructivism as a way to consciously know and learn. As new information or problems are presented, individuals can make c onnections, thoroughly examine probable and possible outcomes, and then provide a defense for the results (p. ix ).

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) : The National Center for Educational Statistics (2009) provided the following: The NAEP is a nationally

administered assessment which tests mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and U.S. history . The NAEP claims to be the only national standar d assessment given to American students (para. 1).

TCAP :

S tate of Tennessee Department of Education (2009) provided the following: The Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program is a summative assessment given to students in Grades 3 through 8 at the end of each school year.

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Reading, language arts, m athematics, s cience, and s ocial s tudies skills are measured using a timed multiple choice format. Tennessee school systems are given the option to give kindergarten, first, and second grade students the Stanford 10 summative assessment. The Stanford 10 assessment is ge nerally scheduled at the same time the three through eight TCAP is administered. Results from both summative assessments are reported to administrators, teachers, parents, and students (para . 1).

Full document contains 132 pages
Abstract: Researchers have documented the importance of authentic learning and assessment and the effects of each on literacy development. However, there are inconsistencies among assessment instruments and a lack of information regarding how standardized, summative assessments jeopardize literacy development in young elementary students. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the effects of standardized testing practices on literacy development for kindergarten, 1 st -, and 2nd -grade students attending Title I schools. The theoretical foundation of this study was based on the constructivist and behaviorist teaching models and the subsequent effect on current teaching and assessment practices. The main research question focused on the impact of mandated testing practices on literacy development for kindergarten, 1 st -, and 2nd - grade students in Title 1 schools in a southern US state. Data were collected through 15 unstructured interviews, 15 classroom observations, and document reviews and were analyzed using Hatch's typological analysis method. The collected data revealed that mandated standardized testing affects the instructional methods used by elementary teachers, which in turn impedes literacy development for kindergarten, 1 st -, and 2nd - grade students. Further, the study supported existing research on the effectiveness of constructivist teaching practices and established constructivism as a direct link to literacy development for young elementary students. The resulting data should provide sufficient evidence to encourage educators to change summative testing protocols for primary students and implement authentic assessments, which would have a positive impact on student literacy development.