As with U.S. student achievement on national and international science assessments, Florida's 8th grade student achievement on the 2013–2017 8th grade Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) 2.0 Science/Statewide Science Assessment (SSA) was stagnant. To break this stagnation, many Florida school districts have changed middle grades science course offerings from traditional, subject-specific, discipline-based, layered, or field-specific science courses to comprehensive, integrated, spiraled, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, thematic, or general science courses. There was a lack of research showing if either type of science course improved student achievement on standardized science assessments. Controlling for school district student population, low socio-economic status (SES) student percentage, and English learner (EL) percentage, this study compared the 2013–2017 8th grade FCAT 2.0 Science/SSA school district mean scale scores of two groups of school districts: those that offered comprehensive science courses and those that offered subject-specific science courses. Scores for three student groups were analyzed: all students, low SES students, and ELs. No statistically significant differences were found in school district mean scale scores or pass rates between the two school district groups. The comprehensive group mean scale scores were numerically higher, while the subject-specific group mean pass rates were numerically higher. The subject-specific group had statistically significantly higher raw scores for life science and physical science. The comprehensive group had wider dispersions of mean scale scores and pass rates, suggesting inconsistencies in implementation of comprehensive science courses. The primary implication of this study is that educational leaders should not expect to improve student science achievement simply by changing the type of science course offering. Changes should be made with consideration to student needs, school district demographics, teacher professional development and support, course structure and coherence with standards, and the need for flexibility in teacher assignments.
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Community Innovation and Education
Educational Leadership and Higher Education
Educational Leadership; Executive Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Moore, Kenneth, "Middle Grades Science in Florida: A Comparison of Student Achievement in Comprehensive and Subject-specific Science Courses 2013-2017" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 6220.