The continued interest in creating equitable educational outcomes for all students across the United States has heightened the need to understand teachers' influence within the classroom as a significant school factor in impacting student outcomes. As a result, this study aims to continue building upon the critical work done in educational spaces to improve teaching and learning through detracking. Thus, this hermeneutic phenomenological case study explores experienced ninth- and tenth-grade English Language Arts teachers sense-making of teaching mixed-ability heterogeneous classes in the first year of detracking using Blumer's (1986) symbolic interactionism theory aligned with Vygotsky's (1962) social constructivism theory. Data for this Dissertation research was collected from five (5) experienced ninth- and tenth-grade English Language Arts teachers who currently teach mixed-ability heterogeneous classes and previously taught tracked classes in two suburban high schools in Florida through a series of two (2) semi-structured, in-depth interviews, a series of two (2) participant written reflections, and the researcher's reflexive entries. The qualitative data analysis followed Smith et al.'s (2022) interpretative phenomenological analysis. Findings revealed seven (7) group experiential themes and 19 corresponding sub-themes of developing understandings of teaching mixed-ability classes, acknowledging challenges during the first year of detracking, raising teacher and student expectations, focusing on differentiated instruction, experiencing hurdles with balancing pace and rigor for varied abilities, discussing benefits and concerns for students, and expressing perspectives of previously tracking students. The goal was understanding the teaching and learning environment in mixed-ability heterogeneous classes.


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Graduation Date





Olan, Elsie


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


Learning Sciences and Educational Research

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction


CFE0009733; DP0027841





Release Date

August 2028

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until August 2028; it will then be open access.