Perceived Challenges of High-Stakes Assessments to High School Career and Technology Education Programs in Maryland
Thomas, David Wayne
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Abstract Title of dissertation: PERCEIVED CHALLENGES OF HIGH-STAKES ASSESSMENTS TO HIGH SCHOOL CAREER AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN MARYLAND David W. Thomas, Doctor of Education, 2004 Dissertation directed by: Professor Robert Croninger Department of Education Many states are now requiring students to pass high-stakes assessments to earn a high school diploma. Even though the primary expectation of high-stakes testing is increased academic achievement for students in specific subject areas, many worthwhile high school programs are ignored by this testing initiative. This case study examined the perceived challenges of high-stakes testing to vocational/career and technology education in Maryland and the responses to the challenges of the assessment program by schools representing the three models of delivery of career and technology (CTE) education in Maryland (technical high schools, community high schools with embedded CTE programs and technical centers). The research was conducted through interviews at the Maryland State Department of Education and with local CTE directors, high school principals, and academic and CTE department chairs in four local school districts in Maryland, and discovered challenges to CTE programs in the following areas: scheduling students in CTE classes, redirecting resources away from CTE to tested areas, altering the mission of CTE programs, and also an overall low level of concern due to the newness of the testing program. Strategies to cope with the challenges were identified as: aligning CTE curriculum with tested areas, mirroring tests in CTE courses to the high school assessment tests, modifying school schedules, and taking minimal or no significant actions. The research also revealed a high level of familiarity with the testing program and more significant actions implemented to address the challenges of the assessments at the community high school with the CTE component and at the comprehensive technical high school than at the tech centers. Recommendations include similar research looking at challenges to other untested curriculum areas, tracking trends in CTE course enrollment and follow-up studies conducted after several years of high-stakes assessments to determine actual impact on career and technology education programs.