Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2007


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Phillip J. Belfiore

Committee Member

Douglas Allen

Committee Member

Richard O'Dell


High-Stakes Testing, PSSA Exams, Standardized Testing


The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) on the beliefs of teachers and principals, and the impact on the instructional program in their schools. This study collected data on (a) teachers' perceptions of the PSSA, (b) how the program affected instructional practices, and to what extent teachers changed their instructional practices, and (c) what factors, if any, may have influenced these changes. Certified teachers and principals from three high performing and three low performing secondary (9-12 grade) schools in northwestern Pennsylvania were included in this study. Teachers volunteering to participate completed and returned the 54-item, three-part, Likert-style survey indicating to what extent he or she may have changed or altered the use of instructional strategies and techniques used in their classroom, as well as what factors influenced changes in educational practices. Results indicate that the use instructional strategies have changed since the implementation of the PSSA high stakes exams. Contrary to findings in the literature that testing will narrow the curriculum and force teachers to drill and practice the identified content, teachers in all six of the participating schools have increased the use of instructional strategies and tools, considered to be consistent with development of high order skills and best practice, and a decline in use of six items that do not properly involve students in learning. These results lead one to believe that the PSSA assessments did contribute to the changes to instructional classroom strategies as implemented by teachers.