School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Nathan Putney


Instructional Settings, Departmentalized, Traditional, Low-income Students, Mathematics Achievement, Economically Disadvantaged


Education | Educational Methods | Elementary Education | Mathematics | Science and Mathematics Education


All students must have opportunities to achieve high levels of mathematics learning, thus, organizational settings in the field of education should be carefully examined to determine the extent to which the instructional environment affects student achievement, growth, and application of grade level standards for students identified as economically disadvantaged. The purpose of this quantitative, causal-comparative study was to investigate differences in mathematical proficiency of economically disadvantaged fourth-grade students in departmentalized versus traditional instructional settings as measured by the 2019 Maryland PARCC mathematics assessment. A cluster sample of low-income fourth-grade students from 80 public elementary schools in a large, suburban school district in central Maryland was used to examine statistical differences in mathematical proficiency of the two settings across three dependent variables: (a) modeling, (b) reasoning, and (c) overall achievement. Archival data were collected from the instructional data division of the school district under study. An independent samples t-test was used to examine differences in group overall proficiency means based on instructional setting. Two Mann-Whitney U analyses were conducted to determine if differences in group modeling and reasoning medians existed based on setting. Results indicated economically disadvantaged students’ overall proficiency scores were statistically significantly higher in a departmentalized setting than in a traditional setting. There were no differences in reasoning and modeling scores based on setting. Implications for instructional practice and suggestions for future research are discussed.