The Impact of a State Mathematics Test on the Structure and Culture of a K-4 School

By Pourdavood, Roland G.; Martin, Belvia K. et al. | Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

The Impact of a State Mathematics Test on the Structure and Culture of a K-4 School


Pourdavood, Roland G., Martin, Belvia K., Carignan, Nicole, Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics


Abstract

This study explored the impact of state mathematics testing on the structure and the culture of a K-4 school. We selected a school that was teaching students to the state mathematics test. Students at the school were doing well on the test. The school was ranked as an "excellent" in the state based on the result of the test. We examined the practices of the principal and two fourth grade teachers which were influenced by the state mandated tests. We also examined the perceptions of two fourth grade students in the school. The study raises some serious questions about the implications of such "high stakes", "end-of-the-line" testing on the structure and culture of this school and the reform movement in mathematics education.

**********

School change impacts school structure and culture and alters teacher/student interactions, attitudes, and beliefs towards mathematics. We investigated the practices of a principal and two fourth grade teachers which were influenced by the state mandated tests. We also examined the perceptions of two fourth grade students at the same school.

The state developed five categories for ranking schools. These five categories include: (1) excellent, (2) effective, (3) needs improvement, (4) academic watch, and (5) academic emergency. The state uses six points for determining school effectiveness. The six points consists of one point for student attendance on the average each day over the school year. For example, if a school has 95% or better students' attendance on the average each day over the school year, the school receives one point. Five additional points are given for the five sections of the test such as reading, writing, citizenship, mathematics, and science (one point for each). For example, if a school passage rate on each of the above five sections is 75% or better, the school receives one point for each of the sections.

If a school receives six points out of six points, then the school is categorized by the state as an "excellent" school. If a school gets four points out of six, then that puts the school in the "effective" category. Receiving three points out of six would mean that the school "needs improvement". Getting two points out of six means the school is in "academic watch." Lastly, obtaining one point or zero means the school is in "academic emergency."

The school that we studied was ranked by the state as an "excellent" school. Ironically, the teachers' philosophies and pedagogies were not compatible with current research on teaching and learning mathematics. The school administrator and teachers were not following the constructivist theory. They were not spending extended time for teaching mathematics. They were not using the Kumon mathematics program. The activities of the school educators were heavily focused on teaching to the mathematics test and preparing their students for the test. The students did well on the test. However, when we examined two of these students' conceptual understanding of mathematics, we found that they had limited knowledge for problem-solving and mathematical communication (cf. Martin et al., in this issue, section "dialogue with students").

To understand the above relationships between the state mandated mathematics test and the school structure and culture and the implications of these relationships on the school change, we conducted interviews with a school principal (four interviews), two fourth grade teachers (four interviews each), and two fourth grade African American students (10 interviews each) in the two teachers' classrooms for one school year. In addition, we incorporated extended participant observations (10 times in each) in the classrooms of the two student participants (one African American boy and one African American girl). We made field notes and examined some school documents such as the school's newsletters, bulletin boards, and student's written work.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Impact of a State Mathematics Test on the Structure and Culture of a K-4 School
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.