Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Approximately 12% of students at the study middle school failed to reach proficient levels on state assessments in mathematics from 2010-2012. Poor performance on assessments can limit future mathematical trajectories and opportunities for students. One of the causes for failing to meet proficient levels on mathematics assessments could be the inconsistent use of teaching practices targeted at supporting lower achieving students; according to such reasoning, a consistent use of research-supported practices could result in improved student performance. Kolb's experiential learning theory, Vygotsky's social development theory, and Maslow's motivation theory provided a framework for this case study. Interviews and observational data were used to ascertain 5 teachers' perceptions concerning instruction for students who fail to reach proficient levels on state assessments. Research questions examined teachers' perceptions regarding implementing best instructional practices and regarding number sense, computational, problem-solving, working memory, and self-efficacy needs of lower level basic skills students. Data from 10 teacher interviews and 15 observations were analyzed using typological coding and thematic analysis. Results indicated that teachers perceived that homogenous groupings prevented teachers from meeting needs of students scoring below the proficient level and from using research-based strategies. The resulting position paper outlines the recommendation to de-track mathematics classrooms into heterogeneous groupings. Study results can be used to help provide teachers with research-based strategies targeted toward improving instruction for basic skills students.