AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Participation in professional development and its role in the implementation of differentiated instructions in the middle school classroom

by Debra L Pincince

Institution: Northeastern University
Year: 2016
Keywords: differentiated instruction; formative assessment; student achievement; Individualized instruction; Middle school teachers; Training of; Middle school teachers; In-service training; Mathematics; Study and teaching (Middle school); Language arts (Middle school); Academic achievement
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2134475
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2047/D20209085


Students across Massachusetts, including those attending the middle school studied, have not been meeting state proficiency targets in mathematics and English language arts. Research indicates that the use of differentiated instruction strategies have been successful in improving student achievement for all students. This prompted the district examined in this study to provide a significant amount of professional development to teachers to facilitate the adoption of differentiated instruction across all subjects and grades. Using a constructivist framework, this descriptive case study explored the process by which a suburban, east coast middle school adopted and implemented differentiated instruction strategies into its classrooms; the degree to which differentiated instruction was fully implemented with fidelity in the classrooms of teachers receiving professional development; and the impact professional development had on student achievement in mathematics or English language arts. The study sought to answer the following research questions: (a) What was the process by which Northeast Middle School provided teacher training in differentiated instruction strategies to teachers? (b) What opportunities and obstacles did teachers face when implementing differentiated instruction in their classrooms? (c) What perceived impact has the implementation of differentiated instruction strategies had on improving student achievement in math and English language arts? The study found that, in response to student failures to reach proficiency in mathematics and English language arts as determined by MCAS (the standardized state measure of school and district achievement) the district mandated that all newly hired teachers participate in a graduate level differentiated instruction course. Participation in the differentiated instruction course may have established the foundation for teachers to begin using differentiated strategies in their classrooms; teachers interviewed, however, indicated that ongoing support for incorporating these strategies into the classroom and more time for instructional preparation was needed. Data, as determined by periodic classroom testing, qualitative teacher feedback and 2015 MCAS aggregate scores, indicated that student achievement and engagement has increased slightly in some classrooms, grade levels and subject areas.