Factors that impact FACS teachers' early adoption of 1998 Family and Consumer Sciences National Standards and their classroom assessment practices
The centerpiece for educational reform is ineffectively setting high academic standards for what students should learn and then testing students' abilities to meet these standards. The primary purpose of this study was to explore the contribution of the 1998 FACS National Standards to assessment practices of FACS teachers, and to investigate the differences between FACS teachers who are adopters and those who are non-adopters of the FACS National Standards. In March, 2001, FACS middle school and high school teachers in Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota were invited to participate in this study. An equal number (n=60) of teachers were randomly selected from each state to comprise the invited sample (N=180). A survey instrument formatted as a booklet was developed for particular use in this study, and was mailed to the invited FACS teachers. The response rate was 30%. Data were analyzed using SPSS Version 10.0. Descriptive statistics were computed, including frequencies, percentages, means, and standard deviations. The F-test and Chi-square test were conducted to compare group means and proportions respectively. Teachers were positive in their responses toward using general national standards and FACS National Standards, and they reported using a variety of assessment tools in the classroom. Rogers' (1995) diffusion theory was used to categorize FACS National Standards adoption groups. Findings revealed that the State Department of Education's support and encouragement contributes most to adopting FACS National Standards. Iowa had the most teachers using FACS National Standards, while many Minnesota teachers were not aware of the FACS National Standards or did not choose to use any kind of national level standards. This study indicates that standards had little influence over teachers' current assessment practices and grading methods. In addition, standards adopters tended to use assessment and testing as part of their teaching more often, and tended to have a longer curriculum revision cycle than non-adopters. Among the 16 content standards of FACS National Standards, seven consumer and family living context areas are commonly emphasized in secondary school, while several of nine career preparation context areas are somewhat ignored by FACS teachers.