How Teachers' Professional Identities Position High-Stakes Test Preparation in Their Classrooms
by Lesley A. Rex & Matthew Nelson — 2004
In this article, we present profiles of two high school English teachers and their classrooms as the teachers responded to mandated high-stakes test accountability. Both teachers accepted targeted professional development, strong accountability measures, vigilant specialist support, and school site leadership; both believed tests were permanent and measured important skills; and both were committed to being team players and to teaching to the test to support their low-achieving students in performing well. We describe how both teachers unwittingly stymied their own test preparation objectives, and we represent the complicated reasons for these acts as expressions of their own personal accountability. Their purposefulness in their teaching competed with and mostly took precedence over the accountability goals of their departments, schools, and districts. We represent their powerful personal commitment as an expression of their professional identities. These we represent through pastiches of the teachers' own descriptions of their teaching. Through our descriptive narratives of their classroom practices, we illustrate relationships between their beliefs and practices, illustrating how they render test preparation to a subordinate position. The cases illustrate three interrelated dimensions for understanding why this occurs: professional accommodation, personal integration, and delegation of testing to secondary status. At the conclusion of the paper, we discuss the implications for policy and professional development.
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