Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kimberly Strunk


In the city selected for this study, only 29% of inner-city students scored proficiently on standardized tests, whereas 71% of their peers at nearby suburban and affluent schools achieved the proficiency level. To address the gap, the local district implemented ability grouping in one charter school. The purpose of this ex post facto quasi-experimental study was to examine the effect of ability grouping among inner-city students in mathematics as an instructional intervention for improving student achievement. Ability grouping theory as an instructional strategy was used as the theoretical framework for this study. The criterion measure of mathematics improvement was provided by the test results from the Northwest Evaluation Association's Measure of Academic Progress (NWEA-MAP), a computer-adaptive assessment of mathematics. Using population data for 2012-2014 inner-city 8th graders who took the pretest and posttest NWEA-MAP (N = 234), two 1-way analyses of variances were used to test for mean differences in the NWEA-MAP improvement scores between ability-grouped (n = 115) and non-ability-grouped (n = 115) students, then specifically between students who were grouped as high ability (n = 55) and low ability (n = 55). The ability-grouped students had significantly higher improvement scores than did the nongrouped students. For those students who were ability grouped, no statistically significant difference existed in improvement between the high and low ability groups. A position paper was developed recommending student grouping to improve academic performance of inner-city school students. Positive social change will occur as the achievement gap is closed for students who attend inner-city schools.