Date of Award

8-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy

Department

Education Leadership, Management and Policy

Advisor

Gerard Babo, Ed.D.

Committee Member

James Culfield, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Joseph Potts, Ph.D.

Keywords

Tracking, High School English, Tracking, Detracking

Abstract

Public schools are examining their policies and instructional practices to address the achievement gap exposed by the reporting requirements of NCLB (Wenglinski, 2004). As accountability measures and stakes rise, there is a call for an improved use ofscientific evidence to inform educational policymaking (Wiseman, 2010). In terms ofthe achievement gap, national studies at the secondary level show when students are grouped according to ability there is a rise in achievement inequality between the groups (Gamoran & Mare, 1989; Hoffer, 1992). The purpose ofthis study is to determine ifthere is a tangible, measurable academic benefit to homogeneously grouping high school honors English students in a diverse, suburban school district in Washington State.

The following research question guided this study: To what extent, ifany, does ability grouping ofhigh achieving students defmed as 9th and 10th grade honors English students in a suburban Washington State school district, affect their performance on state and pre-college assessments ofreading and writing achievement when controlling for student mutable variables?

The research design used a non-experimenta~ explanatory associational design. Student achievement measures were examined before, during, and after high school students were placed in either like-ability (homogeneous) or mixed-ability (heterogeneous) groups when receiving honors English instruction in both their 9th and 10th grade years.

The findings ofthis study indicate that type ofgrouping is not always a significant contributor to students' scores on state and pre-college assessments ofreading and writing achievement. In models where grouping was a significant contributor, the favored grouping type was not homogeneous but heterogeneous grouping.

Due to the relatively small sample size ofthis study, it is recommended that additional studies be done to answer the research question. This question is essential in our educational system's continued pursuit ofequality of educational outputs; or in other words, closing and eliminating the achievement gap. It is recommended that a larger-scale experimental, quantitative study be done to determine if the results of this study can be replicated.

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