Abstract

This paper describes the findings of a qualitative study of six government teachers from three diverse high schools in the Southwest Chicago suburbs during the 2008 Presidential Election. All of the teachers expressed a desire to cover the election in their classes; however, several experienced difficulty incorporating current events into their curriculum due to a perceived need to prepare their students for an end-of-course assessment that held graduation implications. Overall, the author found that the teachers fell into one of three groups with respect to their inclusion of current events within the curriculum: curriculum-first, disciplined-inclusion, and opportunity-first. The teachers who were categorized as curriculum-first and disciplined-inclusion appeared wary of devoting significant instructional time to the election because they were concerned their students may not perform well on the end-of-course test, a fear that appeared linked to their school's prior academic performance on high-stakes assessments and their perception of their students' academic abilities.

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