Making the grade: The perceived impact of Florida's A+ Plan on the learning environment of one elementary school

Robin L Behrman, Florida International University


The purpose of this study was to ascertain the perceptions of educators at one elementary school regarding the changes in the teaching and learning environment and their related effects following the implementation of Florida's A+ high-stakes accountability system. This study also assessed whether these changes were identified by participants as meaningful and enduring, in terms of the definition by Lieberman and Miller (1999). Twenty-one educators, including 17 teachers and four administrators, at Blue Ribbon Elementary school were interviewed. Data were inductively coded and categorized into four major themes: (a) teaching and learning environment consistency, (b) changes in the teaching and learning environment since the implementation of A+, (c) effects of the changes, and (d) significant and enduring change. Findings fell into three categories (a) identified changes since A+ implementation, (b) effects of changes, and (c) what participants believed was significant and long term change, which included those characteristics of the school that had been identified as consistent in the teaching and learning environment. Statements of the participants explained their perceptions about what instructional decisions where made in response to the A+ Plan including the modification of curriculum, the addition or omission of subject matter taught, and the positive or negative impact these decisions had on the teaching and learning environment. It was found that study participants felt all changes and their effects were a direct result of the A+ Plan and viewed many of the changes as being neither significant nor long term Analysis of the educators' perceptions of the changes they experienced revealed the overall feeling that the changes were not indicative of what was necessary to make a school successful. For the participants, the changes lacked the characteristics that they had described as vital in what constituted success. This led to the conclusion that, by Lieberman and Miller's definition, the majority of changes and effects that were implemented at the school as a result of the mandated A+ Plan, were not meaningful and enduring for effective school reform.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Elementary education|Public administration

Recommended Citation

Behrman, Robin L, "Making the grade: The perceived impact of Florida's A+ Plan on the learning environment of one elementary school" (2003). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3126422.