Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Heather Caldwell


Students in the local school district have continued to score below the state average on the standardized American Literature end-of-course (EOC) assessment. It was unclear what 9th-, 10th-, and 11th-grade teachers in the district were doing to prepare students for success on the American Literature EOC. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to examine teachers’ perceptions of the reason for the low assessment scores and their experiences implementing instructional strategies to prepare students for the American Literature EOC. The conceptual framework for the study was Hunter’s model of mastery learning and explicit instruction. The research questions focused on teachers’ experiences preparing students to score “proficient” and “distinguished” on the EOC exam and what resources, if any, teachers needed to better prepare students for the exam. A purposeful sample of eight English Language Arts (ELA) teachers in the district who taught 9th-, 10th-, or 11th-grade participated in individual semi structured interviews. Data were analyzed inductively using NVivo software to identify the emergent themes, which were professional development, reading instruction/strategies, direct instruction, test-driven instruction, collaboration, and preassessments. The results were used to create a 3-day professional development to help the district’s 9th-11th grade ELA teachers prepare students to be more successful on the American Literature EOC. The insights from this study may benefit positive social change in the local district and other school districts statewide by identifying district interventions that teachers can incorporate into their lessons to increase overall student achievement on the EOC assessment for American literature.