Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dr. Wallace Southerland III


An Evaluation of Math Assessment Policy Process in a Southwestern School District


Alicia Taber O'Brien

EdS, Walden University, 2011

MA, Western Governors University, 2004

BS, New Mexico State University, 1994

Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Education

Teacher Leadership

Walden University

September 2015

This project study addressed the lack of evaluation of a math assessment policy in a rural elementary school district in the southwestern United States. This district implemented a math assessment policy in the spring of 2005, yet no evaluation had been conducted to determine whether the policy and its continued implementation were meeting the intended outcomes. Two conceptual frameworks that drove the study were Sabatier's theories of policy process and Bardach's eightfold path to policy analysis. Using interviews of the district's 3 K-12 math teachers and 5 administrators who had proximity to the math assessment policy, this case study explored how the math assessment policy was implemented, as well as whether the policy had met the goals it was originally created to address. Data were deconstructed by coding and then reconstructed in order to create a thick description of the findings. A review of local media documents was also used to illustrate the community's response and reaction to the local district's assessment policies. The 5 themes that developed from analysis of the interview data focused on uncertainty in the ranks, sharing power, collaborating among the mathematics disciplines, policy evolution, and policy outcomes. The results presented in the evaluation report showed that administrators believed the policy was achieving its goals but teachers did not. The evaluation included an executive summary with recommendations to facilitate better communication about the policy throughout the district. Positive social change implications resulting from the evaluation of the math assessment policy include changing the decision-making process at the local district from a top-down model to include more input from practitioners in order to create policies that maximize student success and teacher support.