Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Pamela Scott

Committee Members

Virginia Foley, Donald Good, Aimee Govett


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between the changes in Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) scores and the changes in Per Pupil Expenditures (PPE) after the enactment of First to the Top Act of 2010 and the receipt of $501,000,000 in federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant monies. Half of that money was retained by Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) for education reform initiatives. The other half was awarded to each Local Education Agency (LEA) according to the Title I formula after TDOE approval of individual Scopes of Work. Reform initiatives included transition to Common Core State Standards, changes to standardized testing, teacher evaluation system reflecting teacher effect partly based on student achievement, changes to tenure, and establishment of an Achievement School District for low-performing schools. Fast-paced reforms and increasing accountability for student achievement and gap closure brought a climate of pressure and tension.

Secondary data were readily available on the Tennessee Report Card from TDOE’s website ( Data from each LEA were collected, organized, and analyzed in the areas of PPE; TCAP scores in math, reading/language arts, and science for 2010, 2011, and 2012; and student population.

No significant relationships were found between the changes in PPE and the changes in TCAP scores. Significant differences were found between the math scores for Year 1 and Year 2. No significant differences were found between the reading/language arts scores for Year 1. A significant difference was found between the reading/language arts scores from 2010 to 2012. Significant differences were found for the science scores for both time periods; however, Year 1 science scores fell while 2010 to 2012 science scores rose. Mixed results were found when investigating the relationship between PPE and number of students.

This study indicates the importance of careful discussions of how school funds are spent, perhaps even more than how much money is spent. Implications for further study might include qualitative investigations of the perceptions of stakeholders at all levels about the climate during the fast-paced reforms. Further study of data for Years 3 and 4 of the grant is also recommended.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.