Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Mathematics and Statistics


This qualitative research project focuses on the issues facing middle and secondary mathematics placement through an extensive literature review as well as a case study of a local school district. As students move from elementary school to middle and secondary schools, they are placed into classes that appear to be based on ability. One of the driving questions of this project is how is this ability level determined? Through an in-­‐depth look at one school district, it is found that a primary source of information is both norm-­‐referenced and criterion-­‐referenced assessments given to students in fifth and eighth grades. In this school district, parents and students, with the help of guidance counselors, are the ones who make the final decisions. The role of students’ current mathematics teachers seem to be minimized, instead focusing on data such as assessment scores and previous mathematics grades. An analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of this method is included. An original goal of this project was to provide the cooperating school district with not only an analysis of their status quo, but research-­‐based recommendations on improving their status quo. However, with the 2010 adoption of the Common Core Standards, these recommendations have become unnecessary so instead a look at how these standards and benchmarks will impact the students in this school district will be included.


This work made publicly available electronically on September 20, 2011.



Faculty Mentor

Brynja Kohler