Special Education Teacher's Impressions of High Stakes Term Paper

Pages: 30 (8246 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 30  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Teaching

Special Education Teacher's Impressions Of High Stakes Testing And How That May Impact Preparing Their Students To Take Those Tests



This objective of this work is to understand how special education teachers' attitudes, preparation, background and so forth may be contributing to the low scores of special education students as mandated by the NCLB. The focus in on LD and BD students who have to take the regular exams not the small percentage of special education students who qualify for alternative assessments. The topic involves the conundrum of the current climate of data driven decision making (because of NCLB) and its impact on special education students and safeguarding their rights under IDEA 2004.


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The movement toward an increased accountability in schools has been put in place through state-mandated standardized testing of students. These assessments have a great influence on the decisions and practices of educators and specifically in regards to special education students learning experience. While the work of Kathleen Cotton is not considered the hot off the academic press having been published in 1989, Cotton reveals timeless and priceless knowledge in her review relating to the expectations of the teacher and the academic achievement of students. It is with Cotton this review of literature to follow shall begin and then move on into the literature of the present concerning the attitudes and expectations of teachers and the impact that those attitudes and expectations have upon the achievement of students and specifically in this study, the achievement of special education and students with disabilities on standardized testing scores.


I. Historical Review of Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement

TOPIC: Term Paper on Special Education Teacher's Impressions of High Stakes Assignment

The work of Kathleen Cotton (1989) entitled: "Expectations and Student Outcomes" published in NWREL's School Improvement Research Series Close-Up #7 begins with a quotations from George Bernard Shaw's play PYGMALION which states:..."You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves but how she's treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me as a lady, and always will." Cotton states: "Just as the character, Eliza Doolittle, suggests that a person's place in society is largely a matter of how he or she is treated by others, the Rosenthal/Jacobson study concluded that students' intellectual development is largely a response to what teachers expect and how those expectations are communicated. Just as the character, Eliza Doolittle, suggests that a person's place in society is largely a matter of how he or she is treated by others, the Rosenthal/Jacobson study concluded that students' intellectual development is largely a response to what teachers expect and how those expectations are communicated." (1989) Cotton relates the original Pygmalion study, which involved teachers providing information concerning the learning potential of students that was false to the teachers of these students. The teachers were informed that the students had undergone testing and found to be: "...on the brink of a period of rapid intellectual growth..." (Cotton, 1989)

In reality, these students had been randomly selected for the study. Amazing are findings that state: "At the end of the experimental period, some of the targeted students -- and particularly those in grades one and two -- exhibited performance on IQ tests which was superior to the scores of other students of similar ability and superior to what would have been expected of the target students with no intervention. These results led the researchers to claim that the inflated expectations teachers held for the target students (and, presumably, the teacher behaviors that accompanied those high expectations) actually CAUSED the students to experience accelerated intellectual growth." (Cotton, 1989) Cotton states that the 1989 report presents 46 supporting documents offering research evidence about the relationship between expectations and student outcomes (achievement, IQ scores, attitudes).An additional 21 documents are presented in the bibliography providing information on related topics "such as teacher expectations develop and how to minimize the negative effects associated with low expectations." (Cotton, 1989) Cotton states as well that: "Of the 46 key documents, 22 are primary sources (studies and evaluations), 23 are secondary sources (reviews and meta-analyses), and one presents the results of both a study and a review effort. Twelve reports are concerned with the effects of schoolwide expectations, 30 focus specifically on the effects of teacher expectations in classroom or experimental settings, and four look at both schoolwide and in classroom expectation effects. Nineteen of the documents are concerned with students at the elementary level, seven focus on secondary students, nineteen report findings regarding the entire elementary-secondary range, one presents findings regarding postsecondary subjects, and one is concerned with elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students. The investigations focused on a variety of outcome areas, including student 'achievement' in areas such as reading, mathematics, language arts, French, history, geography, physics, and biology; 'IQ measures'; student 'attitudes' toward school, toward particular subject areas, or toward the expectations of them which they perceived their teachers to hold (15); 'social behavior'; and 'self-efficacy/expectations for success'. Several of the investigations were concerned with more than one outcome area." (Cotton, 1989) Cotton states that the method of communicating high expectations for students are the methods as follows:

Setting goals which are expressed as minimally acceptable levels of achievement rather than using prior achievement data to establish ceiling levels beyond which students would not be expected to progress (Good 1987)

Developing and applying policies which protect instructional time, e.g., policies regarding attendance, tardiness, interruptions during basic skills instructional periods, etc. (Murphy, et al., 1982)

Developing policies and practices which underscore the importance of reading, i.e., written policies regarding the amount of time spent on reading instruction daily, use of a single reading series to maintain continuity, frequent free reading periods, homework which emphasizes reading; frequent sharing of student reading progress with parents, and strong instructional leadership (Hallinger and Murphy 1985; Murphy, et al. 1982)

Establishing policies which emphasize the importance of academic achievement to students, e.g., minimally acceptable levels of achievement to qualify for participation in extracurricular activities, regular notification to parents when academic expectations aren't being met, etc. (Murphy and Hallinger 1985)

Having staff members who hold high expectations for themselves as leaders and teachers, taking responsibility for student performance (Brookover and Lezotte 1979; Edmonds 1979; Murphy and Hallinger, 1985; Murphy, et al. 1982)

Using slogans which communicate high expectations, e.g., "academics plus," "the spirit of our school," etc. (Newberg and Glatthorn 1982)

Establishing a positive learning climate, i.e., the appearance of the physical plant and the sense of order and discipline that pervades both non-instructional and instructional areas (Edmonds, 1979; Newberg and Glatthorn 1982; Murphy, et al., 1982)

Insistent coaching" of students who are experiencing learning difficulty (Good 1987; Taylor 1986-87) (Cotton, 1989)

Cotton states that research shows that "teacher expectations can and do affect students' achievement and attitudes and that Good and Brophy (1980) describe the process as follows:

Early in the school year, teachers form differential expectations for student behavior and achievement.

Consistent with these differential expectations, teachers behave differently toward various students.

This treatment tells students something about how they are expected to behave in the classroom and perform on academic tasks.

If the teacher treatment is consistent over time and if students do not actively resist or change it, it will likely affect their self-concepts, achievement motivation, levels of aspiration, classroom conduct, and interactions with the teacher.

These effects generally will complement and reinforce the teacher's expectations, so that students will come to conform to these expectations more than they might have otherwise.

Ultimately, this will affect student achievement and other outcomes. High-expectation students will be led to achieve at or near their potential, but low expectation, students will not gain as much as they could have gained if taught differently. (Cotton, 1989)

Cotton states the following fact: "It has been concluded by Brophy, 1983; Brophy and Good, 1970, 1976, Cooper and Good, 1983; Cooper and Tom, 1984; Good, 1982, 1987; Meyer, 1985, Raudenbush, 1984; and Winburg, 1987 that "the majority of teachers both form initial expectations on the basis of viable information and are able to adjust their expectations and instructional approaches as changes in students' performance occur..." (Cotton, 1989)

It was found that a minority number of teachers "hold unjustifiably low expectations for student achievement on the basis of actors such as race, gender, or socioeconomic status..." (Cotton, 1989) Inappropriate expectations may well be formed based on cumulative folder data, recent achievement tests) and as stated by Cotton if the student has been placed in a low track group and this can mean to include special education or disabilities students. Kathleen Cotton stresses the fact that: "According to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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