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ERIC Number: ED567573
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 100
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3038-3133-1
Examining the Effects of General Level Course Elimination and Tracking on Student Growth and Achievement in a Suburban High School Mathematics Program
Ellis, Brian E.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Drexel University
Despite a decade of reform driven by the NCLB legislation, there continues to be a significant gap in mathematics achievement between race/ethnicity and socioeconomic groupings of students. This study examines the practice of tracking and an effort to improve mathematics achievement by eliminating the general level mathematics track. The suburban high school in this study eliminated such courses to raise the rigor for all students while also encouraging minority students and students of low-socioeconomic status to participate in more challenging mathematics instruction. The school's program was based upon research that demonstrates promise in programs where detracking, the process of eliminating academic tracks, has been implemented. This research complements research that demonstrates that tracking has adverse effects on minority and poor students, while positively impacting high-achieving students. Through analysis of this school's program, mathematics education leaders may be able to apply the principles of tracking and general course elimination to their own reform efforts. The researcher examined Pennsylvania State System of Assessment (PSSA) achievement results and Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System (PVAAS) growth measures for two cohorts of students. PVAAS is a growth model that predicts individual student PSSA results based upon previous testing history. The students in the graduating class of 2012 were the last students with access to three tracks: general, college preparatory, and honors that address the Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 content of the mathematics program. The students in the graduating class of 2013 were the first group required to choose from only two tracks: college preparatory and honors. The quantitative analysis began by comparing the two cohorts to determine the differences in student achievement and growth. The analysis reveals that the general class elimination was unsuccessful in positively impacting overall mathematics achievement and growth. The research revealed that the 2012 three-track cohort, who had access to general level classes, had significantly higher average achievement and growth. Furthermore, all but one achievement and growth gap between race/ethnicity and socioeconomic subgroups remained significant. The research also identified that eliminating general level classes did not positively impact honors/AP level enrollment as minority participation did not significantly improve while economically disadvantaged participation actually declined between 2012 and 2013. Furthermore, the research failed to reveal any interaction effect upon growth between the students' academic program (honors/AP, college preparatory, general) and race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status. While the research failed to demonstrate overall improvement given the course elimination, further quantitative research identified the impacts of the various academic levels: general, college preparatory, and honors/AP. The research revealed a consistent trend showing that average growth of students was higher at more rigorous course levels. Students in the honors/AP program had significantly higher growth factors, 46.5 points, p = 0.005, and 45.4 points, p = 0.029, for the 2013 two-track and 2012 three-track cohort respectively, than the students in the college preparatory program. Additional analysis revealed an interaction effect between the students' academic program and the students' predicted PSSA performance across the two cohorts, p = 0.012. With the exception of Below Basic students, students at each successive predicted performance level (Basic, Proficient, and Advanced) had higher average growth factors than their peers in lower levels. The difference in growth factors, 123.0 points, between advanced predicted students taking honors/AP classes and advanced predicted students taking college preparatory classes was significant, p = 0.002. The study further reveals that for students in the same academic program but having different predicted PSSA performance levels, the students with lower predicted performance levels always had higher average growth factors than the students with higher predicted performance levels. The only exception was for proficient and advanced predicted students at the honors/AP level. The Below Basic students taking general level classes had significantly higher growth results than their Basic and Proficient predicted peers who also took general level classes. The analysis suggests that Below Basic students were in need of a general level program which contrasts with the design of the mathematics program. Analysis of participation rates identified that when comparing students with the same predicted performance level, minorities and economically disadvantaged students were underrepresented in the most rigorous academic programs. Overall, the analysis indicates that eliminating the general level classes did not have the positive impact on growth and achievement that was intended and suggests that the lowest-achieving mathematics students were adversely impacted by the general course elimination. However, the analysis also provides significant evidence demonstrating the negative impacts of tracking as well as the positive impacts of students participating in more rigorous programming. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Secondary Education; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania