Library Open Repository

When system demands meet site realities in high-stakes literacy testing: A Tasmanian education case study


Downloads per month over past year

Johnson, LM (2011) When system demands meet site realities in high-stakes literacy testing: A Tasmanian education case study. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

[img] PDF (Whole thesis)
Lauren_Johnson_...pdf | Download (3MB)
Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.


Literacy testing is regarded as high and ever-increasing stakes, in Australia and
beyond. The value and validity of testing and the tests themselves, uses made of test
data and pressures to improve scores represent conflict for teachers. This topic has
immediate significance for Tasmanian schools engaged in testing programmes, and for
the wider education systems in Australia and internationally. This research examines
these issues in this contested field with a focus on the lived experience of those most
closely involved.
This thesis explores the discursive tensions and conflicts within secondary
teachers’ experiences of standardised literacy testing in Tasmania. The research was
conducted through a case study of one secondary-level State school in Tasmania
involved with government-mandated standardised literacy tests. Testing sessions
were observed and interviews conducted during one round of testing. Two research
questions focus the analysis on teacher perceptions and test administration in the
classroom site.
Through a combined constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2000, 2001,
2005, 2006; Charmaz & Mitchell, 2002) and discourse analysis (Carabine, 2001;
Fairclough, 2001; Taylor, 2001a, 2001b) approach, emergent patterns and themes are
examined. This analytic approach enabled the identification of dominant discourses
(Gee, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2011), discursive tension and conflict.
Of particular importance in this study are the various teacher perspectives on
their roles as test administrators. Participants’ words and voices are studied to
examine the ways that teacher perspectives affect their administration of the tests, and
how their perceptions of standardised testing can become transmitted to students
through teacher language and behaviours.
The recognition of often-competing demands within the education system and
school sites (Freebody & Wyatt-Smith, 2004) is highly relevant to this research, given
that standardised literacy testing happens at the intersection where system demands
meet site realities. This research notes the discursive tension and conflict resultant of
system-site (dis)connectivity.
The research project contributes a critical understanding of standardised
literacy test administration, necessary for deeper and more nuanced understanding of
what is valued and devalued through such testing, and how school test actors respond
to competing test demands. This research recognises the ways that system pressure for educational testing uniformity affects teachers, students and the wider school
setting. Discursive tensions have implications for test administration and school
management, within and beyond the Australian education context. The research
identifies a number of such implications as findings, and makes considered
recommendations for future research, policy and test design, and professional practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: teachers' administration of standardised/ high stakes literacy tests
Additional Information:

Copyright © the Author

Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2011 01:13
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:53
Item Statistics: View statistics for this item

Actions (login required)

Item Control Page Item Control Page