Teacher preparedness for teaching and assessing depth of knowledge
In the state of Mississippi, students in grades 3 through 8 are required to take an annual assessment, called MCT II, in Language Arts, Mathematics, and, more recently, Science. The results of this assessment may cause punitive consequences for each school and school district. State leaders have become increasingly concerned with student performance and accountability. Therefore, they have redesigned this assessment to accommodate a more challenging curriculum and to ensure alignment with national standards. The unanswered question is whether or not we have adequately prepared teachers for the increase in rigor and depth of knowledge for this assessment. A questionnaire was completed to ascertain teachers' perception of their preparedness for the MCT II. This questionnaire contained questions relative to a teacher's university preparation for education, on-the-job professional development, and teaching strategies and techniques. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and hypothesis testing was conducted to test the null hypotheses. Hypotheses testing resulted in the decision that: (a) teachers perceive that their own preparation and knowledge of critical thinking has no relationship to their ability to transfer that knowledge to students; (b) teachers perceive that there is no significant relationship between the way they were taught to teach and students' ability to employ the use of critical thinking skills. Quantitative tests were calculated using a multiple regression and a level of significance of .05. Results were significant at F (9, 187) = 1.936, p = .049, R2 = .085. Teachers perceived their preparation for teaching and assessing critical thinking skills did not adequately prepare them to prepare their students for the MCT II. Recommendations are that teachers should engage in activities that develop their own utilization of critical thinking skills in order that they may be able to transfer that knowledge to their students. In conclusion, the results indicated that there is not one significant predictor of students' ability to employ the use of higher-order thinking skills.