Qualitative Phenomenological Study: Experiences of General and Special Education Teachers on State Assessment

Qualitative Phenomenological Study: Experiences of General and Special Education Teachers on State Assessment

Author: 
Cordelia Hayden
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
The aim of the study was to explore the lived experiences of general and special education teachers whose students with disabilities are required to participate in the regular state assessment and the meaning they ascribed to that experience. A sample size of 15 general and special education teachers participated in a face-to-face interview or email interview. The sample was purposively selected from one Florida school, from the publicly available website. The interview guide for the study included demographic questions and 15 open-ended questions for all participants. The interview questions focused on the lived experiences of general and special education teachers and the pressures and influences standardized assessments have on teaching and learning in the classroom. All 15 participants shared similar perspectives, attitudes, and frustrations in similar areas in regard to their experiences and perceptions. The five themes that emerged were (a) stress and pressure, (b) student testing and teacher accountability, (c) role shifts, (d) accelerated content and job security, and (e) teacher concerns about evaluations. The teachers provided a way to approach the problem. Teacher evaluation results reflected a deeply flawed belief that all teachers are the same and are interchangeable parts instead of individual professionals. Lawmakers should be proactive in producing the most positive results for teacher evaluations and for assessing students with disability. The evaluation process needs to be meaningful and should not be limited to a single rating. More focus needs to be on unique life skills and learning skills for students with disabilities.
Dedication: 
This work is dedicated to my loving husband, Greagory Hayden, my three children, Alexander, Austin, and Ashley Hayden, my parents Elijah and Viviene Kessna, and three brothers Wayne, Allan, and Alvin Kessna who inspired me. They have shared in my joys and discomforts. My family have supported my dissertation journey and encouraged me when I was ready to give up. Their unconditional love and patience have helped me remain ambitious. This support has strengthened my desire to continue my journey as I progress toward completing this work.
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to acknowledge others who contributed to my doctoral journey and achievement. First, recognition is extended to my dissertation chair, my devoted mentor, Dr. Donald Munday, who provided guidance, encouragement, and motivated me to achieve my goal. I am also very grateful to Dr. Marvin Anthony, who faithfully served on my dissertation committee throughout this exhaustive doctoral journey. My thanks to Dr. Maria Navarro, for her dedication and commitment as my committee member, and her support towards the process of my dissertation. Finally, I would like to recognize and thank Dr. Chizoba Madueke, my past chair, who was with me on this long journey, but was unable to finish with me, for his patience, persistence, and never giving up on me. I would like to express my appreciation to the faculty and staff at University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies for their support during the entire doctoral journey; especially, the academic and financial advisors who provided an excellent experience. My recognition goes out to my friends and classmates whose encouragement was a source of my motivation. Additionally, thank you to all my research participants who made it possible to achieve this accomplishment.