Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Hadley Solomon


The present study investigated teacher motivation in a high-stakes accountability context. Specifically, this study examines elementary teachers' achievement goal orientations, self-efficacy for teaching, and perceptions of help-seeking in the context of high-stakes testing and school accountability under No Child Left Behind and an Elementary and Secondary Education Act waiver. Butler's (2007) teacher achievement goal orientation framework provided the theoretical basis of the present study; high-stakes tests and school accountability status were thought to impact teachers’ achievement goal orientations. Additionally, teachers' achievement goal orientations were thought to impact teaching self-efficacy and perceptions of help-seeking. The sample included 381 elementary school teachers. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and hierarchical multiple regression were used to examine the relationships between and among high-stakes testing and issues teachers perceive to be related to these tests, stress related to high-stakes tests, school accountability status, teachers’ achievement goal orientations, teaching self-efficacy, and perceptions of teacher help-seeking. Results suggest that, for this sample, dimensions of teachers’ achievement goal orientations differ from the dimensions characterized by Butler and colleagues (Butler, 2007; Butler & Shibaz, 2008; Nitsche et al., 2010; Cho & Shim, 2013; Shim et al., 2013). Specifically, teachers in this sample exhibited mastery and work-avoidance goals, as characterized by Butler (2007), but not performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals. Teachers here distinguished between personal performance orientation, or motivation driven by external factors (e.g., recognition from administrators) and using others as the referent to which they compared their own performance (e.g., colleagues). Additionally, class performance orientation emerged as a distinct dimension of teachers’ achievement goal orientations for this sample. Those who espoused this orientation sought for their classes to compare favorably with other classes and were motivated by external factors, such as their class scoring high on state-wide tests. Teacher achievement goal orientations were related to high-stakes testing, but school issues related to high-stakes testing and stress associated with these tests were more salient predictors of teachers’ achievement goal orientations than whether teachers taught in testing grades or not. Finally, teachers’ achievement goal orientations were significant predictors of self-efficacy for teaching and teachers’ perceptions of their own help-seeking.


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