School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Angela Smith

Primary Subject Area

Education, General; Education, Secondary; Education, Teacher Training; Education, Mathematics; Education, Tests and Measurements


best practices, effective teachers, instructional strategies, middle school concept, teacher effect score


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Science and Mathematics Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development


The purpose of this case study was to analyze highly effective math teachers in a middle school in Tennessee and describe the methodologies utilized in their middle grades classrooms. This case study was an instrumental single case study within a bounded system. Effective math teachers employ certain methodologies consistently in their classrooms that can be utilized by other teachers to help students achieve academic success. Tennessee's First to the Top Act (2010) requires using teacher effect data to comprise 35% of teachers' retention/dismissal evaluation scores and requires a concentrated focus on seventh grade mathematics instruction. Questionnaires, interviews with math teachers and student focus groups, and observations of math teachers were utilized to ascertain common methodologies. The study revealed that effective middle school math teachers used several instructional methodologies during the course of teaching a math lesson. The instructional methodologies used by all middle school math teachers in the study and remembered by the majority of students in the student focus groups involved hands-on activities. Other methods that promoted retention and academic growth in the students included writing the objective of the lesson on the board, using formative assessments throughout the lesson, and modeling of the lessons' concepts by the teacher. This study can be used to help administrators at all levels to recognize and retain their most effective teachers and to help the mediocre teachers become more effective.