A qualitative study of selected fourth -grade teachers' perceptions of the Sunshine State Standards

Annette Yvonne Fernandez, Florida International University


Despite a history of grappling with educational standards, never before has the federal government attempted to establish explicit national standards for what American children should learn in school. Recently, U.S. educators have developed voluntary national content standards, or explicit expectations of what students should know and be able to do. Not surprisingly, this major curriculum reform has provoked considerable debate. Today, teachers face difficult challenges working towards the implementation of standards. The objective of this study was to describe and explain the perceptions of a selected team of fourth-grade teachers regarding the language arts component of their state's Sunshine State Standards (SSS). The exploratory questions that guided this qualitative study were: (a) How are the SSS perceived by these fourth-grade teachers? (b) In what ways do the SSS affect teachers' self-perceptions? and, (c) To what extent and how do the SSS affect the participants' professional classroom behavior? Direct observations, interviews, analysis of relevant documents and the researcher's critical reflective journal served as the methods of inquiry employed in this qualitative study. Bandura's Teacher Self-Efficacy Scale was used as a tool to help categorize the data specifically related to self-perception. Analysis of the data suggests that participants perceived the SSS as a useful guideline as they taught. The SSS were a decisive factor in teachers' planning. They were the actual guide lines used by teachers to plan their lessons. However, participants did not believe the SSS were attainable by all students or were fair to students with special needs. They also believed there was not sufficient time allocated for the effective implementation of the SSS. This lack of time created pressure among some of the participants and others even felt disempowered regarding the curriculum and the instructional focus implemented during the test preparation time. The SSS negatively affected the participants when they felt constraints during this time, which led to their inability to carry out important activities in their classrooms. Thus, the SSS directly affected the participants' behavior in their classrooms.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Educational evaluation|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Fernandez, Annette Yvonne, "A qualitative study of selected fourth -grade teachers' perceptions of the Sunshine State Standards" (2004). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3130419.