Date of Award

Summer 6-9-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Christopher Tienken, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Anthony Colella, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christine Siegel, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Albert Sackey, Jr. Ed.D.


high-stakes-testing, school reform, trauma, Ecological Systems Theory, human family capital, community social capital


This study used a correlational, explanatory, longitudinal design with quantitative methods to predict the percentage of students who will score at or above Goal. Archival data from Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) Math and Reading scores from 2011, 2012, and 2013 in conjunction with five-year estimates of the U.S. Census data were examined. The study focused on 21 out-of-school demographic variables, grouped by family human capital and community social capital, to predict the percentage of students in Grade 6 who scored at or above Goal, the district level, on the CMT. The study examined 130 school districts in Connecticut who took the CMT in Grades 6 during the 2011, 2012, and 2013 testing cycles. Through simultaneous and hierarchical linear regression, between 70.7% and 73.7% of the variance in district, Grade 6 Math CMT scores were accounted for by out-of-school factors and between 64.6% and 72.7% of the variance in district, Grade 6 Reading CMT scores were accounted for by out-of-school factors. Two community variables, families earning under $35,000 per year and percentage of individuals 25 and older with a high school diploma, were identified as statistically significant predictors for all testing years. Using a predictive algorithm, the percentage of students performing at or above Goal on the Grade 6 2011, 2012, and 2013 CMT Mathematics was accurately predicted in 72.4% of Connecticut districts and in 68.2% of Connecticut districts in Reading. These findings strongly suggest that standardized tests are not assessing student achievement; they are more accurately assessing family and community demographic factors. This study calls into question the use of federal and state mandated standardized test scores, like the CMT, to drive school reform decisions.

Key words: high-stakes testing, school reform, Connecticut Mastery Test, socioeconomic status, Ecological Systems Theory, human family capital, community social capital, trauma, toxic stress



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