Date of Award

Spring 3-6-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Christopher Tienken, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Strobert, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Danielle Sammarone, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Stanley Pogrow, Ph.D.


Achievement, Demographic Variables and Achievement, High Stakes, MCAS, Poverty and Achievement, Predictive Test Results, Standardized Testing, War on Poverty


This correlational, explanatory study utilized multiple linear and hierarchical regression to examine the predictive power of socioeconomic, parental and district factors on the total percentage of students who scored Proficient or Advanced Proficient on the 2013 MCAS Grade 4 language arts and mathematics test. The population for this study included 100% of the Massachusetts public school districts containing at least 25 valid MCAS Grade 4 language arts and mathematics test scores that were not regional or charter schools and had complete census data for the communities each district served. This study revealed that 74% of the 2013 MCAS Grade 4 language arts test scores and 73% of the 2013 MCAS Grade 4 mathematics test scores could be predicted within 10 points by two independent variables. This research also revealed that the living wage index (LWI), the percentage of households in a municipality that can pay their bills, a variable that has never been studied before, was able to predict 71% of the 2013 MCAS language arts test scores and 73% of the 2013 MCAS Grade 4 mathematics test scores within 11 points. The surprising ability of the LWI to predict state standardized test scores should provide valuable guidance for government policymakers as they consider using the results of state standardized tests to evaluate student, teacher, school, and district performance. The results of this study suggest that measures beyond standardized tests should be used to make high-stakes decisions in education. A possible implication of this research might be that the living wage index becomes an important measure used to develop policy around household economic well-being and student academic achievement.