Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

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  • The focus of this grounded theory research was to investigate the problems that those groups closest to students placed in mathematics classes by mathematics ability have and how those parties work to resolve the problems. The main problem found was a conflict between educators and parents over which students deserve to be placed into high ability mathematics classes. A theory termed pushing was identified and described from the multiple pieces of data provided by parents, teachers and administrators who worked with or had students in elementary, middle and secondary schools in the Northwest United States and in the literature representing international data. Pushing occurs when there is a break down in trust between parents and/or educators with various facets of the school. Once trust is broken parents and educators try to circumvent the system they no longer trust in order to gain advantaged placement for students whom they see as promising. These people push students to work harder, they lobby parents, educators and schools to garner advanced placement, and/or they position themselves to push for program changes. Pushers act because they believe in innate intelligence or mathematics abilities; they act on behalf of students whom they see as needing rigorous training for high school or university success. The pushers’ main focus is on a student’s individual needs over the needs of all students. This study raises the questions: What does it mean to receive an equitable education in the public schools system? Who really knows what is happening in middle level mathematics classes with respect to ability grouping? And finally what are the social affects of ability grouping and parent involvement? A discussion of these questions and calls for further research are included. Finally, to add to further sociological research some of the fields that might also employ pushing are suggested and discussed.
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