Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Earl H. Cheek, Jr


The purpose of this ethnographic study was to connect the remedial summer school experiences of two fourth-grade students and four fifth-grade students with their school literacy experiences the following year. Understanding the students' experiences and connecting the experiences with school personnel provided a link between the students' and school personnel's perceptions of high-stakes testing consequences. Bridging these perceptions through cross-case analysis revealed the physical, emotional, and philosophical effects high-stakes testing is having on the students, school administrators, classroom teachers, and reading curriculum and instruction at the two elementary schools studied. Integrating the findings at the two schools helped develop a clearer view of who and what are affected in schools by high-stakes testing placed in school accountability programs. Findings include the following: (a) summer-school reading instruction that enabled the students to attain a promotional score on the high-stakes test, but that did not prepare them for the reading instruction they encountered the following year, (b) reading instruction that transforms itself into the form of the accountability test administered that year, and (c) identical student implementation of the various reading instruction programs offered the following school year. A composite of student characteristics was also identified including the following: (a) children who have never been on reading grade level, (b) high school mobility rates, (c) attendance at schools deemed "achieving below level", and (d) acceptance of the high-stakes test's impact on their lives. Classroom teachers most affected physically and emotionally by high-stakes tests were veteran teachers, especially ones in the gatekeeper grades. Administrators were affected by the conflict that occurs with knowing where their student population is "coming from" and having to provide what is needed to get them to the accountability standards, which is limited to the students' performance on the high-stakes test. The researcher offers suggestions and ways for using transformative or emancipatory reading and conversation to strengthen students', administrators', classroom teachers', and literacy researchers' understanding of the effects of the juxtaposition of high-stakes testing and standards-based accountability and ways of gaining control of the educational testing situation.