Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Jianping Shen

Second Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Burde


Secondary math, math achievement, interim assessments, teacher collaboration, student discourse, common formative assessments


According to recent national and state level assessments, only about one-third of Michigan students are proficient in secondary math. Previous studies have been inconsistent in demonstrating the impact of an interim assessment process on student achievement, especially with high school mathematics. Moreover, previous studies were not found to utilize Hierarchical Linear Models (HLM) to test such a relationship, especially a three level HLM that links secondary students to a primary math teacher. Therefore, the purpose of my study was to ascertain the extent to which math teachers utilized an interim instructional assessment (IIA) process within middle and high schools, and how such utilization levels connected to student achievement. Another purpose was to ascertain the role that the intensity of teacher training had on the levels of utilization within these schools.

This quantitative study focuses on how the levels of implementation of the IIA process relate both to levels of teacher training and math achievement of secondary students. The sample included 13,494 students nested within 165 teachers and 35 middle or high schools. The first two research questions examine the variation of the data and the relationship between levels of teacher training and seven research-based components of the IIA process. The final research question examines the relationship between seven components of the IIA process and the student achievement in secondary math.

The data analysis reveals differences at the teacher level across the region regarding their utilization of the IIA Process, as well as differences among the student-level math achievement data provided by the state. Such differences were found to have a positive relationship (0.25*) between regional training and higher, self-reported practices of utilizing interim assessments in the classroom. The analysis also shows a positive relationship (0.11**) between growth in student achievement on the state assessment and interim assessment utilization such that a teacher with a lower IIA Process score of 2.8 would expect the students to have an average z-score of 0.09 on the state math test. Whereas a similar teacher with a higher IIA Process score of 5.4 would expect the students to have an average z-score of 0.37 on the state math test.

Likely the greatest implication to educational leaders is the impact teachers have on student learning even when controlling for at-risk factors such as poverty. This is evident in the positive relationship between the growth in student math achievement and some of the individual components, in particular, those related to professional learning communities (assessment design, data analysis, supportive structures and relationships) and those related to high impact instruction (student discourse and distributed practice). Educational leaders would want to assess how their school utilizes interim instructional assessments that follow the scope and sequence of instruction and the structures in place to allow for data analysis within a collaborative environment. In other words, those who collaborate around assessment results seem to have a greater impact on student learning. In addition to teachers talking with each other, this research supports the notion that students learn better when talking with each other as well.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access