Date of Award

Spring 2000

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Grant Cioffi


The purposes of this study were: (1) to examine the perceptions of third grade teachers in the state of New Hampshire concerning the state's mandated testing program, and (2) to determine if there was a relationship between teachers' perceptions and their schools' socioeconomic status. The survey instrument designed for this study contained 61 closed response Likert scale items that measured teachers' perceptions regarding changes in curriculum and instruction, sources of pressure to improve test scores, and attitude toward the third grade test. A stratified random sample of 310 third grade teachers was selected to participate in this study. The percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced price lunches in individual schools was used as the stratifying variable. A total of 257 teachers returned surveys which translated into a response rate of 83%.

The analysis of data revealed that teachers believed that the test forced curricular and instructional alignment with the tested content, but also de-emphasized untested curricular content. Increased emphasis was reported in English language arts and mathematics while a decrease in emphasis occurred in science, social studies, art, physical education, and music. Teachers reported that they increased emphasis on test preparation, activities using multiple choice formats, and activities that included higher order thinking skills. The media was identified as the source of greatest pressure to improve test scores. Test scores were not perceived as accurate indicators of student achievement or instructional quality and there was little support for their use as a means of comparing school quality. Teachers did agree that test scores were positively influenced by the degree to which curriculum and instruction were aligned with tested content. In general, however, teachers were not supportive of the test or the manner in which test scores were used.

There were no significant differences among teachers' perceptions when stratified by the socioeconomic status of schools. However, there were significant differences among teachers' perceptions about the influence of socioeconomic status on test scores. Teachers who taught in affluent communities were more likely to believe that socioeconomic status did not affect test scores.