# Effects of departmentalized versus traditional settings on fifth graders' math and reading achievement

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. ii

Li st of Tables ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... vii

List of Figures ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. viii

List of Abbreviations ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... x

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ............... 12

Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 14

P roblem Statement ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 14

Purpose Statement ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 15

Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 17

Research Questions and Hypotheses ................................ ................................ ................ 18

Identification of Variables ................................ ................................ ................................ 19

Assumptions and Limitations ................................ ................................ ........................... 20

Research Plan ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 21

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 23

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ... 25

Introductio n ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 25

Conceptual or Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ............. 29

Student Achievement ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 33

Organizational Structure ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 38

Reading Development ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 46

Math Development ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 53

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Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 63

CHAPER THREE: METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ........... 65

Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 65

Setting ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 66

Instrum entation ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 68

Procedures ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 70

Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 73

Research Questions and Hypotheses ................................ ................................ ................ 76

Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 77

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 78

CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS ................................ ................................ ........................ 80

Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 80

Assumptions Testing ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 85

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 102

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY AN D DISCUSSION ................................ .................. 104

Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 104

Summary of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 104

Implications and Discussion ................................ ................................ ........................... 111

Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 113

Recommendations ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 115

Conclusions ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 118

REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 120

APPENDIX A: INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL ......................... 134

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APPENDIX B: PERMISSION REQUEST TO RESA DIRECTOR AND BOARD OF CONTROL ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 135

APPENDIX C: RESA BOARD OF CONTROL APPROVAL ................................ ..... 136

APPENDIX D: ADMINISTRATOR E - MAIL ................................ ............................. 137

APPENDIX E: INFORMED CONSENT FORM ................................ ......................... 138

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List of Tables

Table 1: Research Database Search Results of Boolean Phrases ........................ 27

Table 2: Frequency Table of Setting by Subject and Sample Size ...................... 81

Table 3: Frequency Table of Setting by Gender ................................ .................. 82

Table 4: Frequency Table of Setting by Ethnicity ................................ ............... 83

Table 5: Frequency Table of Setting by Disaggregated Demographics ............... 83

Table 6: Schools' Mean Scale Scores for 2008 and 2010 Reading and Math

CRCT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 87

Tabl e 7: Descriptive Statistics of Reading Scores for the Dependent Varialbe and Covariate by Setting ................................ ................................ .............................. 88

Tab le 8: Adjusted Means and 95% Confidence Intervals for 2010 Reading Scale Scores ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 93

Ta ble 9: Descriptive Statistics of Math Scores for

the Dependent Variable and Covariate by Setting ................................ ................................ .............................. 96

Table 10: Adjusted Means and 95% Confidence Intervals for 2010 Math Scale Scores ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 101

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List of Figures

Figure 1: The relationship of the research purpose and the theoretical

framework. ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 29

Figure 2: Interpreting the GPS.. ................................ ................................ ............ 50

Figure 3: Fifth grade math numbers and operations strands and elements ........... 58

Figure 4: Fifth grade math measurement strands and elements ............................ 59

Figure 5: Fifth grade math geometry strands ................................ ........................ 59

Figure 6: Fifth grade math algebra strand and elements. ................................ ...... 60

Figure 7: Fifth grade math data analysis and probability strand and elements. .... 60

Figure 8: Fifth grade math process skills strand and elements ............................. 60

Figure 9: Visual representation of data analysis procedures ................................ 86

Figure 10: Normal Q - Q plot of 2010 r eading CRCT. ................................ ........... 89

Figure 11: Histogram of 2008 reading CRCT scores ................................ ........... 90

Figure 12: Histogram of 2010 reading CRCT scale scores ................................ .. 91

Figure 13: Scatterplot of 2010 reading CRCT scores versus 2008 reading CRCT scale scores ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 92

Figure 14: Scatterplot matrix of predicted residuals versus predicted values ..... 94

Figure 15: Normal Q - Q plot of 2010 math CRCT ................................ .............. 97

Figure 16: Histogram of 2008 math CRCT scores ................................ .............. 98

Figure 17: Histogram of 2010 math CRCT scores ................................ .............. 99

Figure 18: Scatterplot of 2010 math CRCT scale scores versus 2008 math CRCT s cale scores ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 100

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Figure 19: Scatterplot matrix of predicted residuals versus predicted

values ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 102

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List of Abbreviations

Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA)

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)

Adequate Year ly Progress (AYP)

Georgia Criterion - Referenced Competency Test (CRCT)

Does Not Meet the Standard (DNM)

Exceeds the Standard (E)

Economically Disadvantaged (ED)

Early Intervention Program (EIP)

English Language Arts Standard Fifth Grade Reading First Elemen t (EL5R1)

English Language Arts Standard Fifth Grade Reading Second Element (ELA5R2)

English Language Arts Standard Fifth Grade Reading Third Element (ELA5R3)

English Language Arts Standard Fifth Grade Reading Fourth Element (ELA5R4)

Elementary and Seconda ry Education Act

(ESEA)

Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GAOSA)

Georgia Performance Standards (GPS)

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Limited English Proficient (LEP)

Meets the Standard (M)

No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

Normally Identically D istributed (NID)

National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)

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Pennsylvania Educational Quality Assessment (EQA)

Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA)

Response to Intervention (RTI)

Standard Error of Measurement (SEM)

Statistical Package for Soc ial Sciences (SPSS)

Student with a Disability (SWD)

U. S. A. Department of Education (USDOE)

Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

Legislation of the past several decades has led to education reform in the United

States. In 2002, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) with the ultimate goal of “steady academic gains until all students can read and do math at or above grade level, closing for good the nation’s achievement gap between disadvantaged and minority s tudents and their peers” (U SDOE , 2007, p. 1).

The legislation reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 that provided funding for instructional technology, mathematics, and science instruction. NCLB expanded ESEA to hold state s responsible for creating an accountability system to include annual assessments of students driven by measurable goals for the purpose of achieving adequate yearly progress (AYP) ( USDOE , 2003). Among other mandates for increasing student achievement, NC LB called for a highly qualified teacher in the core subjects in every classroom. To be deemed highly qualified, teachers must have a bachelor’s degree, full state certification or licensure, and prove they know each subject they teach ( USDOE , 2004, p. 2) .

NCLB mandates highly qualified teacher status (No Child Left Behind [NCLB], 2001), but expecting elementary teachers to have the specialized knowledge to facilitate mathematics instruction, as well as knowledge for every other subject they teach is unre alistic (Reys & Fennell, 2003). The traditional organizational structure of elementary schools requires the teacher to act as a generalist, carrying responsibility for the curriculum all day (Andrews, 2006; Chang, Munoz, & Koshewa, 2008; Gerretson, Bosnic k, & Schofield, 2 008; Hampton, 2007; Hood, 2010; McGrath & Rust, 2002); therefore, q uestioning the organizational structure traditionally used in elementary

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schools could possibly result in a viable option where teachers can specialize in content areas and deliver quality instruction in fewer areas (Gerretson et al. , 2008). When teachers focus on their area of strength , they have more time to spend refining lessons, carefully constructing learning opportunities, and collaborating with peers instead of prep aring lessons in multiple areas (Andrews, 2006; Becker, 1987; Chang et al., 2008; Dropsey, 2004; Gerretson, et al., 2008).

Creating an environment where teachers teach fewer subjects requires the examination of orga nizational structure in schools. Before making decisions about implementing alternative organizational structures at the elementary level, educators should seek to determine whether the practice makes a difference in student achievement.

When educators seek research - based evidence on the effect iveness of various organizational structures, they find limited and often contradictory research (Chang et al., 2008; Dropsey, 2004; ERIC, 1970; Hood, 2010; Hampton, 2007; Jarvis, 1969; McGrath & Rust, 2002; Moor e 2008; Reys & Fennell, 2003). The purpose of the current study is to determine whether students who received instruction in departmentalized settings achieve at a higher rate than studen ts who received instruction in traditional setting s .

In addition to the introduction of the study, chapter 1 p rovides background information about organizational structure. Problem and purpose statements are included to explain the objective of the study. The significance of the study is explained, and a brief overview of the quantitative research design is incl uded with research questions and hypotheses clearly stated. Variables, limitations, and assumptions are also defined.

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Background

The purpose of public schools is to educate and prepare students to be productive citizens who can positively contribute to so ciety (Peterson, 2009) . The first consideration of any school is to meet the needs of children (Sowers, 1968). With so great a responsibility, educational programs and practices undergo scrutiny to determine areas where improvement is necessary; one poss ible area is curriculum, the learning experiences of students in the school setting (Baker, 1999) . One important factor impacting curriculum is organization of learning experiences (Baker, 1999).

Teachers spend a majority of their time devoted to lesson

preparation, group instruction, and evaluation, traditional organizational structures limit teachers’ opportunities to interact with students and interfere with teachers’ attention to students’ individual learning problems (Baker, 1999). Alternative orga nizational structures exist, and researchers have studied their effectiveness (Becker, 1987; Braddock, Wu & McPartland, 1988; Chan & Jarman, 2004; Chang et al., 2008; Delviscio & Muffs, 2007; Dropsey, 2004; Gerretson et al., 2008; Hampton, 2007; McGrath & Rust, 2002; Moore, 2008; Page, 2009; Williams, 2009). Considering students in public schools today are our future leaders, researchers should evaluate organizational structures for the purpose of determining their impact on student achievement .

Problem S tatement

NCLB (2001) mandates highly qualified status of all teachers in core content areas, but traditional organizational structure requires teachers to serve as generalists instead of content specialists (Andrews, 2006; Chang et al., 2008; Gerretson et al., 2008; Hampton, 2007; Hoo d, 2010; McGrath & Rust, 2002). Curriculum at the fifth grade level

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in Georgia encompasses many content areas and contains multiple performance standards as mandated by the Georgia Department of Education in the state’s curri culum, the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS). If conclusive evidence to support departmentalization of elementary schools existed, administrators and teachers could make an informed decision about implementing this practice to reduce the number of cours es taught while simultaneously increasing student achievement. A review of relevant literature fails to provide conclusive evidence that one organizational structure is more effective than the other, and little empirical research on the issue has been con ducted (Becker, 1987; Chang et al., 2008; Contreras, 2009; Dropsey, 2004; Hampton, 2007; Harr is, 1996; Hood, 2010; Lamme, 197 6; Page, 2009). Researchers (Alspaugh, 1998; Becker, 1987; Braddock et al., 1988; Contreras, 2009; Chang et al., 2008; Hood, 2010; McGrath & Rust, 2002; Page, 2009; Reed, 2002) call for further study of the direct relationship between student achievement and organizational structure .

Moore (2008) writes, “There is clearly a need for more empirical evidence for achievement outcomes r elated to organizational classroom structures, particularly the relationship between self - contained and departmentalized arrangement” (p. 48).

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine if there was a statistically significa nt difference in the reading and math achievement of fifth grade students who were taught in d epartmentalized settings as opposed to fifth grade students who received instruction in traditional settings as measured by the 2010 reading and math scale scores

on the Georgia Criterion Referenced Competency Test ( CRCT ). Understanding whether student achievement increases based on academic setting can be used to assist

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administrators and educators as they strive to create quality learning environments conducive to m aximum student achievement. This quantitative study implemented a causal - comparative design to investigate possible cause - and - effect relationships between two different types of organizational structure (traditional and departmentalized) and student a chievement. Quantitative methods involve the process of collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and writing the results of a study (Creswell, 2003). This design was justified further because the researcher could not manipulate the independent variables, tra ditional and departmentalized classroom settings.

The comparison groups for the current study were comprised of students who received instruction in either a departmentalized or a traditional setting in fifth grade. Fifth grade students from classrooms from 29 elementary schools in northeast Georgia served as the convenience sample for t he study. Because the researcher could not manipulate the independent variable in order to observe its effect on the dependent variable, the researcher form ed groups by a selection process . This process included

surveying administrators to determine the type of organizational structure used in the ir

schools. The researcher implemented a causal - comparative design in the current study to analyze mean 2010 reading and math CRCT scale scores of fifth grade students who were taught in classrooms where different organizational structures were implemented. Demographics of the schools were analyzed to determine discrepancies in sample characteristics. Similarities and differen ces between the comparison groups are reported in chapter 4.

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Significance of the Study

The results of this study could potentially help educational administrators determine if departmentalization of upper elementary grades is a viable option for considera tion when seeking ways to i mprove student achievement. This study could be replicated in other settings to determine if a difference exists in the achievement scores of students who are taught in classrooms where non - traditional organizational structures are used. The results of the current study could potentially be used to make decisions about scheduling and teacher assignment.

Garretson et al. (2008) indicated a benefit of teacher specialization in departmentalized settings was the empowerment of tea chers to provide more effective classroom instruction. If more effective classroom instruction is provided to students, these students will be more likely to succeed and master the content objectives (Gerretson et al., 2008). The current study could pote ntially provide information about departmentalization that might be useful when seeking to improve instructional design and delivery.

Georgia meets NCLB’s “highly qualified” mandate by requiring all elementary teachers who teach core academic subjects, i ncluding reading and math, to meet specific content or testing requirements for each core academic subject they teach (Georgia Professional Standards Commission, 2010). The study could potentially be used to examine the effectiveness of employing t eachers as content specialists. When the concept of varying organizational structure to meet students’ needs was beginning to be debated, Findley (1967) reminded administrators to consider individual differences of faculty members and their competency in various content areas when making decisions

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about teacher placement or organizational structure. Utilizing fifth grade teachers as content specialists could create a departmentalized setting , thereby reducing the number of subjects taught (Chang et al., 2008; Dr opsey, 2004). This structure could allow teachers to narrow their focus into specific content areas and fulfill NCLB’s highly qualified teacher mandate.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

Previous research failed to isolate the effects of organizational structure on academic achievement (Alspaugh, 1998; Alspaugh & Harting, 1995; Becker, 1987; Braddock et al., 1988; Contreras, 2009; Des Moines Public Schools, 1989; ERIC, 1970; Hampton, 2007; Hood, 2010; Jackson, 1953; McPartland, 1987; Morrison, 1968; Page , 2009). The current study examines mean achievement scores of students who were taught in different organizational structures. This quantitative study analyzed mean reading and math scale scores from the 2010 administration of the CRCT to answer the fol lowing research questions:

Research Question #1: Is there a difference in fifth grade mean reading achievement scale scores on the 2010 CRCT among students who received instruction in departmentalized settings as opposed to those who received instruction in traditional settings?

Hypothesis #1: There is a statistically significant difference in students’ fifth grade mean reading achievement scale scores as measured by the 2010 CRCT based on organizational structure (traditional vs. departmentalized) when 2 008 reading CRCT scores are used as a covariate.

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Null Hypothesis 1 - H 01 :

There is no statistically significant difference in students’ fifth grade mean reading achievement scale scores as measured by the 2010 CRCT based on organizational structure (traditio nal vs. departmentalized) when 2008 reading CRCT scores are used as a covariate.

Research Question #2: Is there a difference in fifth grade mean math achievement scale scores on the 2010 CRCT among students who received instruction in departmentalized set tings as opposed to those who received instruction in traditional settings?

Hypothesis #2: There is a statistically significant difference in students’ fifth grade mean math achievement scale scores as measured by the 2010 CRCT based on organizational str ucture (traditional vs. departmentalized) when 2008 math CRCT scores are used as a covariate.

Null Hypothesis 2 - H 02 : There is no statistically significant difference in students’ fifth grade mean math achievement scale scores as measured by the 2010 CRCT b ased on organizational structure (traditional vs. departmentalized) when 2008 math CRCT scores are used as a covariate.

Identification of Variables

For the purpose of this study , the terms departmentalized and traditional

classroom structures were identifi ed using concepts agreed upon by researchers and authors of current literature. In the departmentalized setting, teachers teach in their area of specialization and students move from one classroom to another for instruction. In this setting students have more than one teacher for core subjects and each teacher is responsible for a specific subject or group of subjects (Chan & Jarman, 2004; Chang et

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al., 2008; Contreras, 2009; Delviscio & Muffs, 2007; Des Moines Public Schools, 1989; Dropsey, 2004; Hampton , 2007; Hood, 2009; McGrath & Rust, 2002; McPartland, 1987; Moore, 2008; Parkay & Stanford, 2007). There are many variations of the departmentalized setting, but it is agreed upon that a traditional classroom setting is one where a single teacher is respo nsible for all core content areas for a particular group of students for the entire school year (Chan & Jarman, 2004; Chang et al., 2008; Dropsey, 2004; Gerretson et al., 2008; Hood, 2010; McGrath & Rust, 2002; McPartland, 1987; Moore, 2008; Reys & Fennell , 2003; Sowers, 1968).

R eading achievement as measured by the Georgia CRCT was

the first depen dent variable in the study . M ath achievement as measured by the Georgia CRCT

was the second dependent variable . All fifth grade students in Georgia take the CR CT each spring. The CRCT measure s what is taught in Georgia public schools at each specific grade level (Georgia Department of Education, 2010b). The primary purpose of the CRCT is to provide a valid measure of the quality of educational services provide d throughout the state (G eorgia Department of Education, 2011).

O rganizational structure was the independent variable , and it had two levels: departmentalized and traditional settings. For the purpose of this study , organizational structure was defined as traditional where students were taught by one teacher for all content areas or departmentalized where students received instruction from multiple content area specialists.

Assumptions and Limitations

Assumptions. It was assumed that elementary sch ools in the Pioneer Rural Educational Service Agency (RESA) district used various organizational structures in

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fifth grade. It was assumed that schools that participated in the study employed teachers who were highly qualified to teach reading and math. It was also assumed that all elementary schools in the district participated in the 2010 administration of the CRCT. It was assumed that all schools participating in the study followed standardized administration procedures for the 2010 CRCT. It was also assumed that the administrators from these elementary schools would agree to participate in the study. The researcher assumed that Pioneer RESA would cooperate by providing access to data and support as necessary.

Limitations . Limitations in causal - com parative design include l ack of randomization, manipulation, and control (Gay, Mills, & Airasian, 2009). D ata from only one grade level was analyzed; therefore, the results of this study may not be generalized to other grade levels. Instructional strateg ies used by teachers were not considered in the study. The teachers’ experience or effectiveness was not considered. Specialized teacher training or professional development in specific content areas was not considered. Limitations are further addressed in chapter 3.

Research Plan

This ex - post facto study used a causal - comparative design. This design was appropriate because the research was a non - experimental investigation in which possible cause - and - effect relationships were identified by forming gro ups of individuals in whom the independent variable is present or absent and then determining whether the groups differed on the dependent variable (Gall, Gall , & Borg, 2007). This research design was justified further because it was not possible to manip ulate the independent variables, traditional and departmentalized settings.

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The 2010 reading and math CRCT mean scale scores of students who were taught in a departmentalized setting in fifth grade were compared with those of students who were taught in a traditional setting to determine the relationship between the independent variables (traditional and departmentalized setti ngs) and the dependent variables (reading and math achievement ) . The first step when analyzing the data was to conduct an explorat ory data analysis and compute descriptive statistics for reading and math CRCT scores for each comparison group. Group A consisted of fifth grade students who were taught in a departmentalized setting during the 2009 - 2010 school year. Group B consisted o f students who were taught in a traditional setting during the school year 2009 - 2010.

Parametric statistics utilizing analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) were conducted using 2010 reading and math CRCT achievement scores to determine whether the mean achieveme nt scale scores of the two subgroups significantly differed. ANCOVA is a merger of ANOVA, analysis of variance, and regression for continuous variables. Analysis of covariance is used to test the main and interaction effects of categorical variables on a continuous dependent variable, controlling for the effects of selected other variables, which co - vary with the dependent variable (Gall et al., 2007; Leedy & Ormrod, 2010).

Analysis of covariance is used in causal - comparative and experimental studies (Ga y et al., 2009). Utilizing analysis of covariance was appropriate for the current study because the objective was to reduce the confounding influence of group differences. To control for previous achievement, participants’ 2008 reading and math CRCT achi evement scores served as covariates in the current study. Analysis of covariance was appropriate because the goal of the study was to determine the effect of the independent

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variable while controlling for previous achievement. By using ANCOVA, groups wer e equalized with respect to the control variable and then compared (Gay et al., 2009).

Summary

Organizational structure that is traditionally implemented in public schools requires teachers to serve as generalists (Andrews, 2006; Chang et al., 2008; Ge rretson et al., 2008; Hampton, 2007; Hood, 2010; McGrath & Rust, 2002). NCLB mandated highly qualified teacher status of all teachers in core content areas, which requires them to be content specialists for multiple subjects. Creating an environment wher e teachers teach fewer subjects requires reorganization of traditional structure.

Organizational structures have been examined for decades. Studies on this topic have been conducted, and their results are conflicting. Researchers have called for furthe r study of organizational structure and its impact on student achie vement

(Alspaugh, 1998; Becker, 1987; Braddock et al., 1988; Chang et al., Contreras, 2009; 2008; Hood, 2010; McGrath & Rust, 2002; Moore, 2008; Page, 2009; Reed, 2002).

The current quantit ative study implemented a causal - comparative design to investigate possible cause - and - effect relationships between two different types of organizational structure (traditional and departmentalized) and student achievement. The current study is relevant be cause it examined the difference in mean reading and math achievement scores of students who received instruction in different organizational structures.

Chapter 2 contains an overview of the current study’s theoretical framework as well as a review of pe rtinent literature. Theoretical frameworks examined include Piaget’s constructivism theory and Vygotsky’s socio - culture and social constructivist

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theories. The literature review includes literature on student achievement, organizational structure, readin g development, and math development.

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CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW

Introduction

Teachers who teach in traditional settings at the elementary level are required to be highly qualified in all core content areas they teach (NCLB, 2001) . When the traditional organizational structure is modified to include the use of content specialists , teachers provide instruction in fewer content areas (Garretson et al, 2008) . The current study examined whether a difference in student achievement existed based on organizat ional setting as measured by the 2010 CRCT. The researcher implement a causal - comparative design in current quantitative study to determine if a statistically significant difference existed in the mean reading and math achievement of fifth grade students who received instruction in a departmentalized setting as opposed to those who