Change processes resulting from low ISTEP+ math achievement indicators in the 1997-98 performance-based accreditation cycle
The nature of the decision-making processes and the resulting changes made in school programs and curricula in Indiana elementary schools was the focus of this research. The changes were required of these schools by the State of Indiana through the Performance-Based Accreditation division of the Indiana Department of Education. These schools were expected to make changes because they had performed below standard on the math portion of ISTEP+, the State standardized assessment test, during the 1997-98 school year. The objective of the study was to examine the perceptions of the participants as to the influence that mediating factors had on their schools' decision-making processes.The survey population consisted of principals and teachers from 18 Indiana elementary schools from accreditation group IV. In the 18 schools surveyed, 14 principals (78%) and 182 teachers (50%) responded. The participants were grouped as principals and teachers, and were organized for data analysis by location of their respective schools. Two of the schools were urban, seven suburban and nine were rural. The purpose of the study was to explore the decision-making processes used at these elementary schools. Little is known about these decision-making processes in schools that are faced with the requirement to make changes as the result of low test scores. Data gathered in the study included the types of changes and the factors influencing the change-related decisions. Through analysis of the data, the researcher attempted to gain insights that could be used to assist educators in future efforts relating to change and decision-making.Findings of the study indicated that schools primarily used new textbooks to address new approaches to the math curriculum and remediation programs or test skills programs to focus more specifically on improving test scores. The principals and teachers generally felt the decision-making processes in their schools were very collaborative; however, while teachers perceived those processes to be collaborative, their perception reflected a lesser degree of collaboration than the principals. Concern on the part of the teachers and principals for student learning and the school systems' accountability to the Preformance-Based Accreditation program were perceived as the factors having the greatest influence on the decisions to improve math performance. Clearly, these professionals felt the need to change; however, findings indicated that these changes were motivated in part by professionalism and, in part, by the pressures of accountability to the State.Recommendations for further study were included.