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Educators' views and practices regarding high stakes testing in grade 12 mathematics classrooms MacPherson, Glen Eric

Abstract

This dissertation is a case study of the views and practices of mathematics teachers in two British Columbia high schools - their pedagogical, professional, and personal responses to high stakes testing, and the factors that mediate those responses, such as administrators, department heads, other teachers, students, and external influences. There was homogeneity across the two sites in how the teachers approached the Principles of Mathematics 12 course. 'Examination-style content' was reflected in teachers' lectures, assessment and evaluation, and classroom resources. Banks of previous examination items were a common resource at the two sites. Lecturing was the dominant mode of introducing content to students, and there were instances of the use of particular teaching practices - such as test coaching - aimed at improving examination performance. Evidence of downward examination pressure into earlier grades was found in one site. Administrators reported that provincial examinations significantly mediated administrative decisions on staffing, daily scheduling, yearly timetabling, and school-level programs. Teachers and others perceived media rankings of test scores as powerful but simplistic. Students expressed confidence in their teachers, reporting no undue levels of stress as a result of provincials examinations. These findings are consistent with other research that claims there are significant relationships between external testing and teaching practices, and supports the findings of previous examination-impact research from Anderson, Muir, Bateson, Blackmore, and Rogers (1990), and Wideen, O'Shea, Pye, and Ivany (1997).

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