Date of Conferral

1-1-2009

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Anju Jolly

Abstract

Educational institutions are implementing curriculum mandates without data to support the benefits of the mandates to students. The purpose of this concurrent, mixed-method study, which utilizes quasi-experimental and case study approaches, was to address the effectiveness of mandated differentiated instruction in a suburban high school. This study investigated the significant differences in achievement before and after the implementation of differentiation as well as differences in achievement between a school that mandated the use of differentiation and one that did not. The study also investigated strategies used to implement differentiation and student and teacher attitudes toward it. For ninth grade literature and biology students, t-test analyses revealed significant differences between end-of-course test passing rates before and after implementing differentiation. However, the data showed no significant difference between the passing rates of the two different schools. A change midstream in the daily schedule from 4, 90-minute classes to 7, 50-minute period courses presented a confounding variable that could have affected passing rates. Teachers and students participated in surveys to evaluate attitudes toward differentiation. Surveys among teachers suggested a trend toward a preference for differentiation. Both teachers and students felt that differentiation was beneficial for students. According to students, differentiation was evidence of teacher professionalism and passion which influenced a student's desire to learn. Differentiation provides an avenue for educating all students through students' interests and strengths. Ideally, this avenue will lead to improved student learning and achievement resulting in a more educated society.