School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Rebecca C. Bowman


sensemaking, social promotion, grade inflation, educational policy, middle school teachers, assessment policies, educational leadership


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe middle school teachers’ experiences of implementing social promotion policies at a public school district in the southern United States. The study advanced understanding about teachers’ perceptions implementing social promotion policies and how those perceptions impacted their professional behaviors and identity. Weick’s sensemaking theory guided this study as it explains how individuals define and give meaning to their reality when ambiguities and uncertainties exist. The study was designed to explore the central research question, what are middle school teachers’ shared experiences with social promotion policies at a public school district in the southern United States? Thirteen veteran teachers participated in the study and were chosen through purposive sampling techniques. The data were collected through the use of interviews, journal prompts, and focus groups. Data were analyzed in accordance with phenomenological methods outlined by Moustakas. Textural and structural themes were synthesized to describe the essences of the shared lived experiences of the teachers implementing social promotion policies. The findings from this study supported understanding of how teachers make sense of social promotion policies and identified how the social promotion policies impacted the teachers and influenced instructional and assessment practices in the classroom. This study expanded knowledge of the efficacy and impacts of social promotion policies within a district specifically from the educators’ perspectives. This research may influence future policies related to improving the educational profession and opportunities of low achieving students.