In the context of a newly adopted statewide assessment system, PAWS (Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students), this paper describes intended instructional changes and unintended outcomes in classrooms and schools as a result of an assessment policy involving an innovative online portion of the test. An elementary school was selected and prolonged qualitative fieldwork with in - depth and focus group interviews were conducted for 1½ years. A constant comparative data analysis and interpretation from grounded theory methodology led to the following themes: adaptive implementation policy, teachers’ dilemmas, instructional change, and school culture change. While observing an elusive role for teachers that involved external accountability factors, researchers also found a practical hope for future PAWS tests, foreshadowing the need for promptly delivered test results for realistic instructional improvement.


Standardized Testing, Implementation, Grounded Theory, Instructional Change


The authors would like to sincerely thank Dr. Dan Wulff for his critical and constructive review of our initial draft. We are also so appreciative for our wonderful research participants for their never-ending support! This project would not be possible without their dedications and wisdoms. Lastly, Jeasik Cho thanks Drs. Francisco Rios, Allen Trent, Kevin Roxas, and Won-Hee Lee for their constant support and useful comments on later versions of this article.

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