Acing the test: an examination of teachers’ perceptions of and responses to the threat of state takeover

Richard Welsh, Jerome Graham, Sheneka Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, states have increased latitude over school improvement and accountability policies. At the same time, school takeover via state-run turnaround districts has emerged as a prominent education reform. Although policies takeover influence how teachers are prepared, supported, and evaluated, little is known about how teachers may perceive and respond to the threat of state takeover. Using Georgia as a case study, this article (a) examines the ways in which teachers’ perceptions and practices shift in response to the threat of state takeover and (b) explores how accountability pressures associated with the threat of state takeover may result in organizational changes at the school level. We find that teachers have negative attitudes toward the threat of state takeover and there have been marked changes in practices. It appears that teaching to test is being normalized. School administrators and teachers appear to display a cognitive dissonance between their moral and ethical reactions to the practice and their use of the practices in response to heightened accountability pressures. Teachers acknowledge the difficulties of overhauling the inclusion of students’ test scores in evaluations, but they also raise several concerns regarding the process of testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-347
Number of pages33
JournalEducational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019


  • Accountability
  • Educational policy
  • School improvement
  • School takeover
  • State takeover
  • Teacher evaluation
  • Teacher quality
  • Test-based accountability
  • Testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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