Title

School Administrators' Perceptions of Ability Grouping In Elementary, Middle, and High Schools In a Selected Southeastern State

Date of Award

2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

First Advisor

Thelma J. Roberson

Advisor Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Abstract

One of the essential obligations of school administrators (principals and assistant principals) is being instructional leaders. They have the authority to make final decisions for determining how students are grouped for class instruction by grade, subject, and/or class. As instructional leaders of their schools, school administrators can influence the decision making of teachers when grouping for instruction between and within class. The purpose of this study was to determine the perceived perceptions of school administrators as related to ability grouping of students in elementary, middle, and high school, and whether their decisions on ability grouping were being driven by their perceptions of class instruction, students' behaviors, and school attendance. The participants of this study consisted of 250 school administrators in a selected southeastern state. The School Administrators' Perceptions of Ability Grouping (SAPAG) Questionnaire, developed by the researcher, consisted of demographic information and questions that measured three factors: class instruction, students' behaviors, and school attendance. The demographic findings in this study were analyzed using the Pearson chi-square significance test. The test results indicated that there was no statistically significant difference between gender and group, ethnicity and group, and school level and group. However, the descriptive test also indicated that there was a statistically significant difference between principals' and assistant principals' educational level. The test result found that 44% of the principals had doctorate and specialist degrees than assistant principals. Nearly 65% of the school administrators had a master's degree as their highest educational level. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to determine whether there was a statistically significant difference in principals' and assistant principals' perceptions of ability grouping on the three dependent variables: class instruction, students' behaviors, and school attendance. The results of the analysis for the first hypothesis indicated that there was no statistically significant difference between school administrators' perceptions of ability grouping in regard to class instruction, students' behaviors, and school attendance. The results of the second hypothesis indicated that there were statistically significant differences among school administrators' perceptions of ability grouping by school levels (elementary, middle, and high school) in regard to class instruction and students' behaviors. The means for class instruction and students' behaviors indicated that the means for elementary school were lower than the means of middle and high school. The results of the third hypothesis indicated that there were statistically significant interactions between elementary, middle, and high school administrators' perceptions of ability grouping in regard to class instruction, students' behaviors, and school attendance.