The efficacy of the New York State standards and assessments from the perspective of high school seniors
The agenda for educational reform in each state has been set with standards-based curriculum and high-stakes assessments. The federal government's endorsement of this manner of reform is the No Child Left Behind legislation, which has put additional demands on students and school districts to meet specific levels of achievement determined by high-stakes assessments. While the dialectic regarding the efficacy of this type of reform effort is passionate, it has neglected the voice of students. This study sought and reports on that voice as it pertains to New York State's standards-based reform model and its accompanying high-stakes Regents Examinations.
This naturalistic study focused on the perceptions of high school seniors in one New York State high school. Using the phenomenological tradition of inquiry based on the work of the philosopher Martin Heidegger, 24 high school seniors (June 2003 graduates) and 4 alums were interviewed to determine the meaning they made of the standards based and high-stakes assessed high school experience. I discovered a constructivist grounded theory based on four emergent themes that spoke of the importance to students of the relevancy of experiential educational experiences as found in extracurricular structures such as robotics and theater, teacher agency, smaller and dialogically based classes such as Advanced Placement, and how archaic structures and systems are reinforced by the current reform effort that students interpret as limiting the breadth of their educational pursuits. Beyond the requirements for high school graduation, students dismissed standards-based reform and its accompanying high-stakes assessments as narrow and irrelevant to their perceived present educational needs, and its efficacy in terms of their preparation for the future. They determined it as pedagogically passive, individualized, singular in meaning, and void of their interpretive voice. In the extracurriculum, students found structures and systems that were actively stimulating, open to their dialogue, a change in the roles of their teachers and the social construction of knowledge. Here, meaning became interpretive, and truth discovered.
I compared the discovered grounded theory to the models of Jurgen Habermas, Peter Senge, and Paolo Freire to clarify its meaning along the established lines of the theory of communicative action, organizational theory, and critical pedagogy.
Academic guidance counseling
0519: Academic guidance counseling