Theses and Dissertations @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


The following ethnographic study was conducted with 6 th grade teachers in a middle school that has been stigmatized by the public as a failing school and cited by the government as a School in Need of Assistance according to the No Child Left Behind Act. The purpose of the study was to examine what teachers believe about persistent underachievement in order to shed light on whether teacher beliefs inform teachers' efforts to ameliorate underachievement. As my study progressed, my research data suggested that teachers use a faulty testing curriculum that guarantees poor student performance and only serves to confirm mistaken assumptions about student ability. In an act of self-preservation, teachers in my study blamed students for poor performance in order to deflect professional blame away from themselves. This blaming game supports a culture of failure that locates both students and teachers in a losing or no-win situation.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education

First Advisor

Deborah Gallagher, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (v, 149 pages)



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