Comparing the Impact of a High School Exit Examination on Science Teachers' Instructional Practices

Kenneth E. Vogler, G Nathan Carnes


The purpose of this study was to compare the impact of a high school exit examination with different consequences attached to the results on biology teachers' instructional practices in Mississippi and Tennessee.  Self-reported survey data were obtained from a representative sample of teachers who taught the same content tested on their respective state's high-stakes graduation examination. An analysis showed that both groups used a balance of student-centered (e.g., critical-thinking activities) and teacher-centered practices (e.g., lectures) on average at least 2 to 4 days per week. At least 83% of participants indicated an interest in helping their students earn test scores required for graduation and improving graduation examination scores as factors that influenced their use of specific practices and tools. This study presents a detailed picture of which practices were used and factors influencing their use by biology teachers who prepare students for state-mandated examinations with different consequences attached to results.


high-stakes testing, performance assessments, instructional practices, science

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