Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Rachel Pienta


One rural Midwestern high school discovered a discrepancy among school, state, and national science skill attainment, verified by ACT scores. If students do not acquire vital science skills, they may not perform proficiently on science tests, thus impacting future college options. Inquiry based instruction and constructivism provided the basis for the theoretical framework. This study questioned associations between ACT scores, inquiry science technique usage, and ACT standard usage (Phase 1), and teachers' views on science instruction (Phase 2). This sequential explanatory mixed methods program evaluation included 469 ACT scores, surveys sent to 9 science teachers, and 8 interviews. Phase 1 used the inquiry science implementation scale survey and an ACT college readiness standards workbook to determine proportional associations between datasets. Descriptive statistics, one-sample t tests, and binomial tests were used to analyze Phase 1 data. Phase 2 interviews augmented Phase 1 data and were disassembled, reassembled, and interpreted for parallel viewpoints. Phase 1 data indicated that teachers use a slightly above average amount of inquiry and science ACT standards in the classroom; however, most science students did not test above the curriculum and there were inconsistencies in standards covered. Phase 2 data revealed teachers need time to collaborate and become skilled in inquiry methods to rectify the inconsistencies. The project was an evaluation report. This study will foster positive social change by giving the district a plan: adapt the science curriculum by integrating more ACT and inquiry standards and participate in more professional development that applies inquiry as a tool to increase science skill proficiency, thus generating locally competitive students for college and the workforce.