Date of Award



© 2016 Christine Cooper

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Carol Burbank

Second Advisor

Michelle Collay

Third Advisor

Nikole Seeger


The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to gain perspectives of grade two through eight teachers on the impact of federal and state mandates, including the results of high-stakes standardized testing. The study focused on teacher perceptions of mandates and the effects on their students in three small, geographically isolated, public schools during the 2015-2016 school year. Nine teachers participated in one-on-one, in-depth interviews. This study focused on four themes of teacher perceptions: (a) pedagogy, relationships, location and alignment, (b) the general process of mandate implementation, (c) concerns about specific mandates, and (d) student understanding and emotional impacts of high-stakes testing. Teacher perceptions lead to four major findings: (a) teachers believe that relationships are critical in creating positive, caring, trusting learning environments and the unique locations of these schools fosters the development of these relationships, (b) implementation and the professional development needed to carry out mandates has a significant impact on teachers with leadership playing a significant role in the success or failure of implementation, (c) high-stakes testing does not increase student learning and creates a stressful environment, and (d) all students exhibit at least moderate to high levels of anxiety before, during, and after testing with the largest impact being on marginalized or at-risk students.


Ed.D. Dissertation