Understanding the Factors that Influence the Grouping and Assignment of Students to Elementary Classrooms
St John, Elise Mary
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My dissertation examines the grouping and assignment of students to elementary school classrooms. Using a sequential mixed-methods design, I link classroom assignment outcomes (whether or not students are grouped and assigned to grade-level classrooms by prior achievement) to assignment practices to examine the factors that contribute to varying outcomes. Findings show that school educators value and work towards creating classrooms that balance student achievement across classrooms, although only some are successful at doing so. Schools that achieve ability balanced classrooms have more structured approaches to data use than those that don't. In these schools, principals played an important role in gathering and organizing student data to be used when making these decisions. These principals also actively engaged with teachers in the decisions about how to group and assign students to classrooms. When examining other factors that influence the grouping and assignment of students to classrooms, I found that perceptions of teacher effectiveness, and parental and teacher preferences played a role in these decisions. Perceived accountability pressures also influenced the degree to which educators focused upon student achievement data when forming classrooms. Inhabited institutions theory is utilized to understand how institutional logics may influence and explain varying practices in different school contexts. These findings have implications for educators, policymakers, as well as researchers of educator effectiveness. For educators who value classrooms that are not differentiated by ability, these findings suggest promising practices toward creating ability balanced classrooms. These findings also highlight important implications that individual accountability policies may have upon educator practices and preferences with regard to classroom assignments. Finally, these findings inform the assumptions that teacher effect measurements rely upon, hopefully offering insight that may be used to improve the accuracy of these models.
- Education - Seattle