Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Perceptions of ability grouping and its possible contribution to the achievement gap
by Williams, Frederick Douglas, Ed.D., College of Saint Elizabeth, 2013, 273; 3559743
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this mixed methodology study was to explore the perceptions of ability grouping and its possible contribution to the achievement gap within the high school. The researcher asserted that course placement criterion, associated with the College Prep, Honors and Advanced placement ability groups, serve as contributing factors towards maintaining an achievement gap between White, Asian, Black and Hispanic students. The study revealed stakeholder perceptions and concerns regarding the methods involved to place students in College Prep, Honors and Advanced Placement courses as a contributing factor towards maintaining the achievement gap that exists within the district. This study focused on the following research questions: (1) What are the specific beliefs, roles, and influences of teachers, administrators, counselors, students, and parents when determining ability level placement in school? (2) What key factors shape teacher's perceptions of students relative to academic achievement and placement? (3) Does a course placement criterion contribute to the achievement gap? The findings were based upon four data sources: focus groups conducted with parents, teachers/counselors, and students; interviews conducted with three district administrators; an on-line survey completed by parents, students, teachers/counselors and administrators; and a review of archival data regarding course enrollment and High School Proficiency Assessment scores over a period of three academic years.

This action research dissertation revealed fifteen findings of which four themes emerged. The themes are: (1) Beliefs, values, and influences of teachers, parents, and students affect ability grouping decisions; (2) A student's perceived work ethic and grades earned in previous classes influence teacher's decisions regarding ability placement; (3) The parent's right to overrule teacher course recommendations and course placement criterion contribute towards the achievement gap; and (4) Course enrollment and standardized test scores demonstrate the existence of an achievement gap in Central Jersey High School.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ciccone, Joseph
Commitee: McDade, Thomas, Neigel, Keith, Scott, Valerie
School: College of Saint Elizabeth
Department: Education Department
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 74/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational psychology, Secondary education
Keywords: Ability grouping, Achievement gap, Advanced placement, College prep, Defacto segregation, Honors, Lower ability groups, Perceptions
Publication Number: 3559743
ISBN: 978-1-303-05034-3
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