Where have we heard it before?: survey of Maricopa County high school teachers' perceptions of Common Core policy rhetoric
The purpose of this study was to determine Maricopa County high school teachers' perspectives on educational policy rhetoric messages. The current time and setting among Arizona high school educators provide a unique opportunity to gain the perspective of those who will be implementing the reform and held accountable for subsequent student performance before the reform takes effect and while the policy talk that precedes reform efforts is at its peak. The questions that this study sought to answer were the following: 1. What are Maricopa County High School teachers' perceptions of policy talk regarding Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSSI) and high stakes accountability measures with respect to student achievement outcomes and implementation? 2. How do these perspectives vary by teacher context (e.g. experience, content taught, district, and site demographics) within the 9-12 educational system? To determine the answers, a sequential explanatory mixed methods design was selected. The first phase involved the collection and analysis of quantitative data followed by collection and analysis of qualitative data in the second phase. A survey instrument was developed utilizing CCSSI/PARCC policy rhetoric statements and was administered to high school teachers. Initially, survey data identified overall trends among high school teachers' perceptions of educational reform policy (CCSSI) talk messages. Subsequently, qualitative focus group interviews further informed results. Results indicated that portions of policy talk messages have resonated; however, these tended to be the oldest and most oft-repeated statements. Newer messages related to changes in instructional practices and student outcomes were less widely accepted. It would appear from the results that teachers are unsure of what CCSSI really entails due to a lack of clarity in message and presentations for practitioners regarding implementation. A significant complicating factor in this effort is the unique nature of the CCSSI as a nationalized movement. Furthermore in Arizona, the backlash of conservative Republicans against CCSSI has led some teachers to believe that the implementation is up in the air, without discernible direction or support. This has left educators to interpret this latest change through their own lenses, which has defined their level of agreement and acceptance with these policy statements.