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Perceptions of accountability and surveillance through high-stakes testing on elementary teachers' pedagogical decisions in the classroom

Spillman, Kathleen Price
Scope and Method of Study: The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions of elementary teachers regarding how pedagogical decisions have been altered by high-stakes testing, No Child Left Behind, and how teachers view surveillance through testing. This was a qualitative study which involved six practicing elementary teachers with a range of teaching experience from six to thirty-two years. Data were collected through interviews and journal logs. Using narrative inquiry, hermeneutics, and critical theory, the data were analyzed through a Foucaultian framework.
Findings and Conclusions: Behind, accountability, and surveillance have adversely affected the participants' pedagogical decisions in the classroom. Using Foucault's categories of space, time, movement, the examination, docile bodies, and the normalization of subjects, themes emerged under the umbrella of Foucault's categories. Coding patterns revealed, "My main focus is reading and math," "I'm not teaching the way I want," "I'm leaving some children behind," "It's criminal to keep students in their seats all of the time," "I'm overwhelmed and stressed," "It seems we test all of the time," "Fear," "Following the herd," and "Making everyone the same. No Child Left Behind has profoundly affected the six participants" of what they consider good pedagogical practices. Analyzing the stories for "what was not said" led to themes of docile bodies and normalization of teachers.