Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

James Dorward


James Dorward


James Barta


Steven Laing


Lisa Boyce


Cathy Maahs-Fladung


A school district in Utah implemented an instructional coaching program intended to increase student achievement in reading and mathematics. Program administrators wished to determine the degree to which certain elements of instructional coaching (time, activities, context, and content) affected student achievement. Student achievement data were collected using state reading and math assessments; coaching data were collected using coaching time logs; other data were obtained from the district.

Data were analyzed to determine which predictors could appropriately be included in a hierarchical linear model (HLM) predicting student achievement. A threelevel fully unconditional model was applied to determine the relative effect of grouped factors at the student, class, and school levels. Approximately 90% of the total variance in student achievement (both explained and unexplained by the model) was observed at the student level. Unconditional growth models were constructed to determine whether student-level factors varied significantly across classes and whether class-level factors varied significantly across schools. Each identified factor was included (as random or fixed) in one of eight explanatory HLMs to measure the effect of specific coaching factors on predicted student achievement. Noncoaching factors were included in the models to reduce extraneous variance and strengthen the models’ ability to describe the effect of coaching factors. Inclusion of factors reduced unexplained student-level variance by approximately 45% in the language arts models and 54% in the math models.

There was no evidence that coaching time had a direct effect on student achievement. Some of the coaching activities, contexts, and contents did affect predicted achievement significantly. This report outlines those observed effects in detail. The most notable finding was that students in classrooms where coaches spend more time conferencing with teachers about student achievement data had higher predicted scores. Due to the nature of the dependent variable (achievement) and inherent methodological challenges associated with measuring the effect of class-level interventions, effect sizes observed in this study were relatively small.

The resulting recommendations for practice were that coaches focus less on the quantity of time they spend with teachers and more on selecting activities, context, and content that are likely to yield the greatest results.




This work made publicly available electronically on April 12, 2012.