Date of Award

Spring 5-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Chair

Rose McNeese

Committee Chair Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 2

James T. Johnson

Committee Member 3

Ronald A. Styron

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 4

David Lee

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling


The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, signed into law in January 2002, established a decade of test-driven school reform in an attempt to increase student achievement and reduce the student achievement gap. The state of Georgia created the Criterion Reference Competency Test (CRCT) to align with the guidelines of NCLB. This study examined longitudinal student achievement data on eighth grade math CRCT in 25 middle schools from 2002–2007 and 2008–2011 in a large suburban school district in Georgia.

The study found that all subgroups increased in student achievement from the onset of NCLB in 2002–2011. Furthermore, the study found a statistically significant difference between White and Black and White and Hispanic student achievement as measured by eighth grade math CRCT using mean scale score, and exceeds proficiency standard. This study indicates that even though Blacks and Hispanics have made greater gains overall than Whites from 2002–2011, the minority student gains were not great enough to compensate for the large preexisting achievement gap as measured by mean scale score and exceeds proficiency standard.

Interestingly, the meets proficient category indicates a reverse achievement gap between Black and White students for 2002–2007 and no statistical difference between White and Hispanic students. Moreover, no achievement gap was demonstrated for any subgroup for meets proficiency for 2008–2011. The achievement gap has closed for minorities in the meets category, while the achievement gap is still large in the exceeds category between Whites and Blacks and Whites and Hispanics. Minorities must make greater gains than demonstrated in the exceeds proficient category for the achievement gap to close in a statistically signficant manner. It also demonstrates that minorities are overrepresented in the below basic category and underrepresented in the exceeds or advanced proficient category.

A statistically significant difference was found between choice receiving schools and choice sending schools and between non-school choice participating schools and choice sending schools. There was no statistical difference between non-choice participating schools and choice receiving schools. The study indicates that MCSD has reduced the number of failing schools, which is the opposite of national trends.