Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Virginia Foley

Committee Members

Eric Glover, Cecil Blankenship, Don Good


In the era of accountability in our nation‘s public schools, high-stakes standardized testing is the primary methodology for determining academic achievement; results from end-of-grade standardized testing are published annually in state and national report cards that are used as an instrument for determining school and teacher quality. What standardized tests do not take into consideration, however, are external environmental factors that have an impact on academic achievement; this research project focuses upon the effects of socioeconomic status on academic achievement on the middle grade student in North Carolina in 2012 and 2013. These years were chosen to comparatively analyze student achievement during the transition from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study to the Common Core curriculum. Only public schools configured in grades 6-8 that operate on a traditional school calendar were considered for this study. One way analyses of variance and paired samples t tests were performed to determine whether significant differences exist between student achievement in each grade level, academic year, and tested subject area (mathematics and reading) based on various levels of socioeconomic status levels within the school. Socioeconomic status levels were determined by the percentage of student population within the middle school that received free or reduced cost lunch during that school year. Significant differences existed between every socioeconomic level, subject area, and grade level, and significant differences also existed between each academic year as well as the number of economically disadvantaged students passing both the reading and mathematics assessments in each academic year. Schools with higher poverty levels scored significantly lower on both subject areas in both academic years than their wealthier counterparts. Test scores were also significantly lower in 2013 than in 2012, and fewer economically disadvantaged students passed both reading and mathematics in 2013 than in 2012. Further research is suggested to determine whether the trend of higher poverty schools performing significantly lower on standardized assessments than wealthier schools will continue with the ongoing implementation of the Common Core curriculum.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.