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From Discord to Harmony: An Autoethnographic Exploration of Belief and Possibility in the Era of High-Stakes Assessment
AuthorWolters, Linnea Louise
AdvisorPennington, Julie L
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In an era when accountability frameworks linked to the outcomes of high-stakes standardized tests describe the success and failures of public schools, teachers are under tremendous pressure to raise test scores. In order to accomplish this, some teachers have been required to implement proscribed curricular programs and to use data from standardized test to target certain students for extra instruction aimed at improving proficiency outcomes. This autoethnographic study explores one teacher's beliefs about educational standards and how those beliefs changed when the Common Core State Standards were adopted in her state. The findings suggest that the teacher developed a strong peripheral belief that educational standards are not compatible with critical pedagogy or socially just outcomes for students. It is further suggested that this belief developed due to the complicated, and frequently conflated, relationship between standards, assessment, curriculum, and accountability. The teacher's beliefs were problematized when she undertook professional learning aligned with the Common Core State Standards. A discussion of implications for this autoethnographic research emphasizes the importance of teacher voices in educational policy and calls for a no-fault period of accountability while teachers explore the instructional implications of the new standards.