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The Ambiguity of Test Preparation: A Multimethod Analysis in One State


by William A. Firestone, Lora Monfils, Gregory Camilli, Roberta Schorr , Jennifer Hicks & David Mayrowetz 2002

We studied test preparation activity among fourth-grade math and science teachers in New Jersey, using a survey of almost 300 teachers and observations of and interviews with almost 60. New Jersey uses a mix of open-ended and multiple-choice tests; links few stakes to test results, except for publication of scores; and offers limited professional development to teachers. New Jersey teachers are adopting specific techniques associated with more inquiry-oriented instruction, but their basic approach does not appear to be changing. Teachers do teach the content on the test with a new wrinkle. When more students are passing a test in one subject area than in another, emphasis shifts to the area with low scores. We found more direct instruction in lower socioeconomic districts but not less inquiry-oriented instruction. Finally, principal support has more influence on the test preparation strategies teachers use than does pressure to comply.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 104 Number 7, 2002, p. 1485-1523
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10860, Date Accessed: 12/11/2017 4:36:15 AM

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About the Author
  • William Firestone
    Rutgers University
    E-mail Author
    WILLIAM A. FIRESTONE is professor of educational policy and director of the Center for Educational Policy Analysis at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. He is interested in policy implementation and especially the effects of state testing on teaching as well as the integration of qualitative and quantitative research methods. His recent publications include "Rethinking 'High Stakes': Lessons from the US and England and Wales" (with David Mayrowetz) in Teachers College Record and From Cashbox to Classroom: The Struggle for Fiscal Reform and Educational Change in New Jersey (with Margaret Goertz and Gary Natriello).
  • Lora Monfils
    Rutgers University
    E-mail Author
    LORA MONFILS is a research associate at the Center for Educational Policy Analysis, Rutgers Graduate School of Education, and a doctoral candidate in educational psychology at Rutgers University. Her research interests include statistical modeling, large-scale assessment policy issues, and equity in mathematics and science education.
  • Gregory Camilli
    Rutgers University
    E-mail Author
    GREGORY CAMILLI is a professor in the department of educational psychology, at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. His areas of research interest include psychometric issues in educational policy, meta-analysis, and differential item functioning. Examples of recent publications include "Application of a Method of Estimating DIF for Polytomous Test Items" (Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, 1999), "Standard Errors in Educational Assessment: A Policy Analysis Perspective" (Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 1996), "Values and State Ratings: An Examination of the State-by-State Education Indicators in Quality Counts" (Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 2000), and Methods for Identifying Biased Items (Sage, 1994).
  • Roberta Schorr
    Rutgers University
    E-mail Author
    ROBERTA Y. SCHORR is an assistant professor in the Department of Education and Academic Foundations where she teaches mathematics and mathematics education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her research is focused on the following interrelated areas: assessment, professional development, technology, and the development of mathematical ideas in students.
  • Jennifer Hicks
    Rutgers University
    E-mail Author
    JENNIFER HICKS is a research associate at the Center for Educational Policy Analysis, Rutgers Graduate School of Education, and a doctoral student in educational policy at Rutgers University. Her research interests include school choice and standards-based reform and assessment.
  • David Mayrowetz
    University of Illinois-Chicago
    E-mail Author
    DAVID MAYROWETZ is an assistant professor of policy studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is interested in educational policy implementation, specifically the impact of general education policies on special education students and programs. Mayrowetz coauthored "Sources of Leadership for Inclusive Education: Creating Schools for All Children" with Carol Weinstein in Educational Administration Quarterly (1999) and "Rethinking 'High Stakes': Lessons from the US, England and Wales" with William Firestone in Teachers College Record (2000).
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