A Year in the Life of an Elementary School: One School's Experiences in Meeting New Mathematics Standards

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A Year in the Life of an Elementary School: One School's Experiences in Meeting New Mathematics Standards by Karen Dorgan — 2004 This qualitative research project studied the efforts of a small public elementary school over the course of 1 academic year to meet higher standards imposed by the state. The state's department of education defined school success in terms of the percentage of students passing a set of multiple-choice, standardized tests in four core areas of the curriculum. The study looked particularly at strategies the school applied in an attempt to raise students' mathematics test scores. Interviews, classroom observations, and document analysis were used to analyze the effects of new
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The study sought data concerning the manner in which teachers implemented daily lessons to help students meet higher standards as well as the means by which they prepared students to take part in the required testing program. Analysis of data revealed factors in the teaching environment that appeared to influence teachers’ decision making and strategies by which teachers, as a faculty, focused their efforts. Data collection included three sources: interviews, observations, and document analysis. Participation in the study was on a voluntary basis. While in an ideal situation, all teachers in the grade levels of interest would choose to participate, in reality a smaller group of teachers was willing to take an active role in the study. The decision to make participation on a voluntary basis may have led to some skewing of data, a disadvantage in research design, but one which was offset by the advantage of working with teachers who had an interest in the research question. To collect data that is honest and rich necessitates a level of trust between teacher and researcher that requires time and patience, as well as self-selection for participation. In keeping with basic tenets of naturalistic research, the researcher entered the setting to be studied with as few predisposed notions as possible, intending to listen to and observe teachers in their own environment. Interviews elicited teachers’ views on the curriculum they were to teach. Teachers

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