Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Second Advisor

James R. Bliss

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Third Advisor

Robert Biggin

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Abstract

Since the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, school leaders have sought to improve student abilities in both math and reading. Although both subjects have made improvements in both delivery and assessment over the years, mathematics still troubles the nation as students continuously fall short of local, state and federal goals (Darling-Hammond, 1998, 2005; Franke et al., 2005; Johnson & Johnson, 2002).

Instructional coaches have become a norm for many districts across the U. S. as districts seek to draw knowledge and leadership from mastery level teachers as they help improve everyday teaching and student learning. This study evaluates the impact of instructional coaches on student mathematic achievement in an urban mountainous school district in the Western United States. Students in grades first through sixth were administered two interim mathematic assessments during a school year that were created by a district team. Interim Assessment 1 set a baseline score for students as they were divided into classrooms where some teachers worked with a math coach and others did not.

Interim Assessment 2, administered late in the year, was used to measure growth and impact of instructional coaches as scores were compared for all students to the baseline developed earlier in the year. Initial implications indicate that the assessment used was flawed because the majority of students scored lower on the second assessment. The assessment was intentionally created to be harder to represent the expected growth that must take place to score proficiently on state accountability assessments. However, upon a closer inspection of change factors with weighted scores based on teacher ID, levels of statistical significance did emerge. There were cases that teacher working with an instructional coach did show to have an impact on student achievement that did not occur in the classrooms where teachers did not work with a coach. This data was interpreted with a reflection of how instructional coaches could be assigned to specific classes by principals based on achievement needs.

Ultimately, instructional coaches did have an impact on the achievement of students in the classroom for grades second, third and sixth. Furthermore, additional information was deduced concerning sub-populations in the study and how instructional coaches did impact those groups. The results could influence how and where principals utilize instructional coaches in the mathematics classroom as well as seeing the largest gains in student achievement

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