A study of cognitive changes made to teach a state mandated curriculum
Haterius, Gail G
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This grounded theory study conducted al two public school campuses researched the process of cognitive changes made by teachers in order to teach a state mandated curriculum, specifically the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The purpose of the study was to determine the process that teachers experienced when changing their mental models to adopt a reform initiative. The data revealed a three step process that teachers in this stud\ experienced in cognitively changing to teach the state mandated curriculum. Step One was Acquiring Knowledge, Step Two was Experiencing Success, and Step Three was acknowledging a Paradigm Shift. Teachers did not acknowledge a paradigm shift until the second year of working on the mandated change. There were five accelerating factors that helped teachers change their minds: (1) knowledge, (2) teacher efficacy, (3) accountability, (4) leadership, and (5) collegiality. Each of these factors influenced the teachers' cognitive change to help teachers teach the mandated curriculum, and, therefore, their students achieve greater success on the state mandated accountability assessments. Three impeding factors were also found. They were (1) lack of time, (2) lack of resources, and (3) reluctance to change. These factors increased the amount of time it took for teachers to feel comfortable in teaching the TEKS. Data revealed that teachers experienced an Acquire Knowledge-Experience Success cycle, wherein as each teacher's students experienced success on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) or local benchmarks, the teacher was motivated to acquire more know ledge about the TEKS so that more success would be evidenced. Two years was the most frequently mentioned time frame for this group of teachers to acknowledge a paradigm shift. The data revealed that teachers did not feel that valuing social justice influenced them to teach the state mandated standards-based curriculum. Teachers in this study were already motivated to teach all students. Teacher and principals spoke of having high expectations of all students which were shared by the community. A theoretical model of teachers' cognitive changes made to teach a state mandated curriculum w as developed.