Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction, PhD

Committee Chair

Karp, Karen

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Adelson, Jill Lynn

Committee Member

Brown, Elizabeth Todd

Committee Member

Fennell, Francis

Committee Member

Lingo, Amy


Mathematics--Study and teaching (Elementary); Tutors and tutoring


With the need to increase students’ mathematics performance and provide a more challenging mathematics curriculum, elementary schools have begun hiring mathematics coaches and specialists (MCSs). However, limited empirical research has been conducted to examine how the use of MCSs relates to student achievement. Using restricted-use data from the 2011 NAEP Mathematics Assessment, the current study examined the relationship between MCSs and the mathematics achievement of more than190,00 fourth-grade students in more than 7,400 schools nationwide. Additionally, the study examined whether that relationship differed for students with and without disabilities, a vital concern with the continued focus of equity in mathematics education. Lastly, the study examined the relationships between principal-reported time spent on the different NAEP-defined roles and responsibilities of MCSs and fourth-grade students’ mathematics achievement. Hierarchical linear modeling with adjustments for composite covariates and controls as well as sampling weights was used to explore each research question. Findings indicated a statistically significant positive relationship between whether elementary schools had full-time MCSs and fourth-grade students’ mathematics achievement overall as well as in five specific NAEP-defined mathematics content areas (i.e., number properties and operations; measurement; geometry; data analysis, statistics, and probability; and algebra). This significant relationship between MCSs and achievement did not hold true when schools utilized part-time MCSs. Additionally, results showed that being in a school with a MCS did not moderate the lower achievement that students with disabilities experienced. Significant relationships between principal-reported time spent on various NAEP-defined roles and responsibilities provided by full-time MCS and fourth-grade students’ mathematics achievement were noted, including relationships between achievement and MCSs providing assistance to both teachers and students. The results of this study provided an answer to the call for high-quality educational research by using a large-scale, nationally representative dataset along with advanced statistical analyses to provide methodologically rigorous, empirically-derived evidence of the relationships among elementary MCSs, fourth-grade students’ mathematics achievement, and students’ disability status. Findings are consistent with prior research, showing that full-time MCSs are a promising practice for increasing student performance. The researcher provides recommendations on the effective use of MCSs in schools and suggestions for extensions of the current study.