High-Stakes Testing: Friend or Foe? Factors impacting secondary classroom music teachers' use of student self-reflection instructional and assessment practices in music performance learning

Year: 2017

Author: Roberts, Stefanovych

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
Government imposed external high-stakes accountability assessment or tests is one dimension of school assessment reform of government legislation and policy directed at accounting for and improving teacher quality, instructional practice and student achievement. There has been much concern and controversy surrounding the use of high-stakes accountability tests. High-stakes testing has been shown to negatively influence and impact on teachers' motivational beliefs, classroom instructional and assessment practices, and sense of community within the school.

In a recent exploratory study, set within a social-cognitive theoretical framework, high-stakes assessment factors thought to influence secondary classroom music teachers' use of student self-reflection instructional and assessment practices in music performance learning were explored in a sample of music teachers from New South Wales. This qualitative study encompassed a multiple-case study design with three secondary music teachers from Sydney metropolitan schools where data was collected primarily through interviews. This paper will present the qualitative findings from inductive content and thematic analyses.

External high-stakes testing was found to influence and significantly impact secondary classroom music teachers' implementation of student self-reflection instructional and assessment practices in music performance learning, their motivational beliefs, sense of teacher community and instructional alignment with standards. In particular, adverse effects on teachers' classroom practices was evidenced through a reduction in the amount of time available for meaningful teacher-student interactions; the use of performance-oriented instructional activities in classroom practice such as using a limited variety of instructional activities and assessment tasks that were more aligned with test taking; coaching, drilling and teaching to the test; a narrowing of the curriculum taught; more teacher-centred assessment activities; and teachers not knowing how to use student self-reflection data to guide their day-to-day decision making. Teachers' motivational beliefs were also found to be negatively affected, resulting in more performance-oriented goals for teaching and instruction, as well as less efficacious teachers in the use of a variety of student self-reflection instructional and assessment strategies. A reduced sense of teacher community was also evident amongst the case studies teachers. A perceived positive outcome of state mandated high-stakes assessment was noted in terms of instructional alignment with standards by way of referencing external examination marking criteria and guidelines.

This paper concludes with an interpretative analysis and discussion of the findings from the qualitative data. Potential implications for policymakers, music educators and music teacher education (pre- and in-service) programs about student self-reflective performance instructional learning, training and assessment are also discussed.

Back