Program improvement: a modern day scarlet letter (how five elementary teachers dealt with the impact of No Child Left Behind)

This study advances the conversation by looking at the current educational reform movement, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), through the lens of a practicing teacher. Seeking to understand how NCLB affects the morale and pedagogy of public education teachers in a school labeled "program improvement"; this study uses focus group interviews with five participating teachers at one inland southern California elementary school. Utilizing focus group interviews and the personal stories of the participants, this study investigates the culture, climate, and behavioral shifts that emerged following an ideological incongruence between teachers and administrators. This study considers NCLB's impact on teacher pedagogy and ideology. The data reveals that, pedagogically, teachers feel that the changes made to their school, a result of the NCLB mandates, were an attempt to undermine the culture and climate of the school. The findings suggest that teacher reactions to NCLB fall within a behavioral continuum of: acceptance, compliance, passive resistance, and active resistance. Ultimately, the teachers' ideological incongruence with NCLB positioned them to make tough pedagogical decisions. This thesis was written in a succinct format with the intention to submit for an educational journal article. Keywords: educational reform, No Child Left Behind, teachers, morale, pedagogy, focus group, acceptance, compliance, passive resistance, active resistance