Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia L. Reeves

Second Advisor

Dr. Walter Burt

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Stearns


grades, assessment, practices, grading, state


Research suggests that traditional grading practices are fraught with subjective problems and that many factors go into grading that have little, if anything, to do with what a student knows or is able to do. More recent research, however, has made connections between teacher-assigned grades and subsequent performance on the American College Test using correlational studies. This study reinforces and extends that work by, first, testing the relationship between grade point averages (GPAs) and ACT scores for four graduating high school classes in two case study high schools. Then, this study qualitatively examines teacher thinking and decision making around planning instruction, assessment of student learning, and grading practice with math and English language arts (ELA) teachers from the case high schools. Finally, this study examines how teachers react and respond when presented with correlational analyses of student grades and ACT scores over four graduating classes and asked for their reflections and interpretations of those correlations.

The results of a Pearson product–moment analysis found that correlations between math and ELA grades for the four graduating classes tested to be moderately positive and significant. Qualitative findings from interviews with ELA and math teachers from the case study schools indicate a high degree of intentionality on the part of teachers to connect their instruction, assessment, and grading decisions to state standards and to position students for successful performance on the ACT. When positive and significant correlations between grades and ACT scores were presented to teachers, they voiced an expectation that this would be the case. Some teacher disenfranchisement from less autonomous decision making in these areas was also noted.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access