The impact of the revised New York State Regents Examination in English on instructional practice

Vasiliki Vicky Menexas, University of Pennsylvania


Many current initiatives seek to raise new educational standards and change state assessments in order to improve academic performance. Yet, there is little empirical evidence to suggest how teachers respond to changes in state tests. There are also only a few studies that use qualitative measures to examine how assessment influences instruction on the classroom level. This dissertation fills these gaps by using data collected through ethnographic methods to examine the effects of a new state test on the practice of one teacher in her high school classroom. The data included field notes from participant-observation sessions, interviews with administrators, teachers, and students, surveys, students journals, and teacher's journal. The results of my study demonstrated that most teachers thought that the new state test was a realistic assessment of students' abilities. However, time and resources were lacking for teachers and students to successfully prepare for it. The results also revealed that the participant teacher's instruction was geared toward the test. The test limited the social constructivist teaching opportunities she otherwise had in her conventional instruction. This led to teaching in a formulaic, cookbook fashion. Furthermore, teaching to the test crowded out other important curricula and minimized creative thinking skills. Other constraints, that both teacher and students faced, during the school term, that made teaching and learning for the test difficult, included time and unmet needs, student diversity, student motivation, size and scope of test questions, and lack of teacher collaboration. Recommendations for curriculum and program changes include implementing a richer way of teaching, developing a curriculum infused with the test but not controlled by the test, including teachers in the process of changing state assessments, promoting professional development for teachers who are affected by the test, and designing a credible evaluation system that aligns curriculum/instruction/assessment. This study also recommends states be more attuned to the different needs that teachers and students have. It is anticipated that these recommendations will improve the new state assessment program and put more supports into place for teachers and students in order to successfully prepare for the test.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Secondary education|Educational evaluation

Recommended Citation

Menexas, Vasiliki Vicky, "The impact of the revised New York State Regents Examination in English on instructional practice" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3003663.