Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Challenge Program: A quantitative analysis of strategies designed to eliminate the achievement gap
by Moore, Diane L., Ed.D., Lindenwood University, 2012, 134; 3498725
Abstract (Summary)

The achievement gap is one of the most daunting challenges educators face in U.S. schools today. Researchers have identified many factors that contribute to the persistence of this gap in public schools. Family backgrounds, cultural environment, and socioeconomic status appear to be the main environmental factors perpetuating the achievement gap. A review of literature also revealed poor quality teachers, ineffective school leadership, course tracking in high schools, and a lack of parental involvement were the main school factors identified.

This quantitative study examined one public high school’s effort to reduce the achievement gap between African American students and Caucasian students. This high school created a voluntary program known as the Challenge Program. African American students in grades 9 through 12 actively worked with administrators, teachers and parents to reduce the existing gap. Multiple strategies within this program were implemented to support ongoing academic success among the Challenge students.

Quantitative analysis of cumulative GPA, End of Course (EOC) exam scores in English II and American History, and ACT scores between Challenge students, Caucasian students, and non-Challenge African American students in the graduating class of 2012 were completed to determine if the program was effective in reducing the achievement gap. Data analysis confirmed Caucasian students attending this high school continued to have higher achievement. While multiple tests provided mixed results, z-tests for differences in means and t-tests for differences in means assuming unequal variances revealed Challenge students had higher achievement levels compared to non- Challenge African American students when analyzing cumulative GPA and EOC exam scores in English II. These results indicate the Challenge Program has made some progress in reducing the achievement gap at this high school.

This research involved an analysis of measurable achievement data for the students in the graduating class of 2012 at this high school. Continued analysis of performance data and a qualitative study of student and staff perceptions of the Challenge Program would be important to fully evaluate the program’s success.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stewart, Terry
Commitee: Underwood, Brent, Weir, Graham
School: Lindenwood University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Missouri
Source: DAI-A 73/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational tests & measurements, Secondary education
Keywords: Achievement, Achievement gap, Challenge Program, Leadership, School leadership
Publication Number: 3498725
ISBN: 978-1-267-22404-0
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