Teaching LA in a High Stakes Era

with Dr. Caitlin McMunn Dooley

Dr. Caitlin McMunn Dooley

  • assistant professor of Early Child Education at Georgia State University
  • research based on what teachers' beliefs are on literature instruction in an era of high stakes testing

High Stakes Testing

  • had standardized testing for a while, but what makes them high stakes is what the scores affect
  • used for major decision making at individual student level
  • funding
  • some teachers hired or fired based on scores
  • some students retained just for their test score

Journal of Literacy Research Article

--high stakes testing does not support student success
--looked at urban school (historically had not done well on testing) and suburban school (historically had done well on testing)
  • both struggling groups in reading and language arts
  • found when school emphasized testing more and more, the level of instruction was going down
  • urban teacher - had to stop doing what worked best for students because of district expectations


  • speak out
  • work with parents and together change the system
  • join affiliation groups


  • pay attention
  • look at teacher comments, other tests, and standardized tests when making a decision of whether or not to retain child
  • one test does not tell the whole story


  • speak out

Policy Makers

  • we aren't going in the right direction - it isn't the race to the top
  • talk to policy makers and look at NCLB


  • pressure to reduce achievement gap
  • made few gains - the pressure hasn't helped scores
  • created a gap in the level of instruction for students who were intended to be helped by NCLB
  • What are achievement levels anyways?

Assessments in the future

--more authentic
  • related to students' interests
  • more enjoyable by matching sounds or moving a character on a game based on a reading
  • not the same genre that they are now