Title

Comparison of Leap Test Scores of 4th Grade Students Taught By Mathematics Specialists and Self-Contained Teachers

Date of Award

2005

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

The focus of this study was the use of elementary mathematics specialists to improve mathematics instruction and student achievement as measured by the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program 4th grade mathematics test. Chapter I presents an overview of the topic. Chapter II provides a review of literature identifying major components of mathematics instruction and mathematics achievement. Chapter III outlines the research methods utilized and Chapter IV reports the results of the data analysis. Chapter V reports the summary of the study and includes implications and recommendations for future research studies. The first hypothesis stated that there would be no statistically significant difference in LEAP mathematics raw scores for 4th grade students taught by elementary mathematics specialists and those taught by self-contained teachers. Even though scores were higher for 4th grade students taught by elementary mathematics specialists, this study found the difference not to be statistically significant. This study expounded on this result by including a rationale section to examine factors that may have influenced this outcome. The second hypothesis stated that there would be no statistically significant difference between elementary mathematics specialists and 4th grade self-contained teachers on the following variables: (1) number of hours spent planning for mathematics instruction, (2) mathematics preparation, (3) perceived ability to teach mathematics, (4) personal feelings toward mathematics, and (5) teacher development. Statistically significant findings were found for each variable. However, one of the two measures used to quantify mathematics preparation did not reveal a statistically significance difference between the two groups. That measure was the number of elementary mathematics methods courses taken in college. The use of elementary mathematics specialists in the school reform movement is virtually unexplored. Even though this study did not find a statistically significant difference in student test scores, elementary mathematics specialists did have a positive effect on student achievement. Also, further examination revealed that the mathematics specialist program in this study was under duress. Therefore, more studies are needed to determine whether effects on mathematics instruction and student achievement justify the expense of employing elementary mathematics specialists.