THE RELATOINSHIP BETWEEN TEACHER PERCEPTIONS OF AUTONOMY IN THE CLASSROOM AND STANDARDS BASED ACCOUNTABILITY REFORM
MetadataShow full item record
Over the past 30 years, standards based accountability reform (SBA) has taken hold in public education. SBA reform includes defined academic expectations, curricula standards, measureable assessments, and performance accountability. SBA impacts multiple levels of public education. Its most recent federal codification, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, includes sanctions meant to influence what happens in classrooms. Historically, teachers have held a great deal of control over the activities in the classroom. Research suggests that teacher control (i.e. autonomy) over the classroom often resulted in uneven implementation of reform policies across schools, the transformation of policies to fit existing practice or the insulation of classrooms altogether from policy reform. To achieve its stated goals, SBA seeks to influence teacher and school practices, particularly where students fail to meet performance goals. This study examines the intersection of teacher perceptions of autonomy and SBA reforms, including NCLB. The study uses four waves of nationally representative Schools and Staffing Survey data from 1993-94 to 2007-08 to investigate changes in teacher autonomy over time and to examine specific school and teachers characteristics associated with changes in autonomy in 2007-08. Over-time findings reveal that teachers perceived lower classroom autonomy between 2003-04 and 2007-08. Across all four waves of data, the variation in teachers' classroom autonomy increased, and more of this increased variation occurred between schools rather than within schools. Findings for 2007-08 reveal that teachers who taught in elementary schools or taught tested subjects perceived lower levels of autonomy than did teachers in secondary schools or who taught non-tested subjects. Further analyses based on state application of adequate yearly progress (AYP) sanctions revealed a differential effect on teacher autonomy for Title I schools and for schools that failed to make AYP. Findings from this study suggest that although NCLB targets Title I schools, teachers in all schools perceive lower autonomy based on the grade level and the subject matter taught, and that state policies regarding NCLB may lead to uneven or unintended effects on teacher perceptions of autonomy in the classroom.