Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terrence A. Tollefson

Committee Members

Elizabeth Ralston, Jasmine R. Renner, Kathryn K. Franklin


The intent of this study was to investigate changes in the curriculum caused by high-stakes testing mandates within 3 Southwest Virginia school systems to find best practices for instructional application in classrooms. This qualitative study was comprised of indepth interviews and observations with elementary school teachers and administrators. High-stakes testing has impacted the nation in myriad ways. The mandates from the government presented teachers and administrators with conditions that must be met according to the No Child Left Behind Act and individual state's standards. Teachers' perceptions of curriculum changes, Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP), testing mandates according to high-stakes testing, and accountability were examined through personal interviews and classroom observations. This study focused on policies and practices of esteemed teachers' creative abilities as they adhered to mandates and captivated students' abilities to perform in the classroom.

Teachers and administrators shared their feelings and perceptions regarding new policies and how they made changes within the classrooms and school systems. The findings indicated that the most prevalent ideas concerning teachers and administrators developed into the patterns: educators' level of satisfaction, students' stress, school changes, and our future. Educators' level of satisfaction was the most frequent theme that demonstrated high-stakes testing affected their overall happiness level. The research reflected that educators were negatively affected by high-stakes testing. Constructive ideas were identified as to how they maintained creativity within the classroom that could inspire critical thinking. A model was developed to demonstrate the findings for best instructional practices for teaching high-stakes standards in the classroom.

This research should add to existing research in this area and provide information that other educators might apply to their own classroom or educational environment. The participants in this study were the change agents, and their attitudes regarding the changes affected the decisions they made with the school curriculum.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.