Term of Award

Fall 2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Grigory Dmitriyev

Committee Member 1

Linda M. Arthur

Committee Member 2

Kent Rittschof

Committee Member 3

Neal Saye

Abstract

This mixed methods study explored the perspectives of thirty-nine (N=39) elementary teachers employed in four elementary schools in one school district in Georgia regarding the use of performance-based assessment strategies within an all encompassing balanced literacy framework for instruction. Participants were surveyed on their use of performance-based assessment strategies, and both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. This study draws on the research regarding the dichotomy that exists between standardized tests and the performance-based assessment practices of teachers implementing balanced literacy. Because teacher buy-in is critical to the success of any curricular initiative, inquiry into teacher perceptions of their role in the assessment process and in the information they derive from performance-based assessments is necessary. This study provides a deep understanding from the perspectives of teachers how they value and use the assessment strategies incorporated in the framework and what level of autonomy they perceived for themselves while incorporating the balanced literacy initiative. The findings of this study indicated wide variances in the degree of implementation of the assessment strategies in the balanced literacy approach to instruction. The data revealed that more training is needed in Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA2) and in the use of running records and the Qualitative Spelling Inventory. What was clear from the responses to the open-ended questions was that teachers were divided on whether or not they valued the assessment strategies in balanced literacy. Phenomenological analysis of the data revealed that teachers felt a loss of instructional decision-making power as a result of implementing the assessment strategies in the balanced literacy approach, and many have experienced a lower level of job satisfaction. Implications for practitioners are discussed, as well as implications for future research in the field of literacy instruction.

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