Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Sue A. Rieg, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

George R. Bieger, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kelli R. Paquette, Ed.D.


The purpose of this study was to determine the use and effectiveness of research-based practices implemented in middle grades throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that are aimed at increasing the academic achievement of students who are economically disadvantaged and closing the achievement gap for this subgroup population. A total of 13 schools participated in the study. The participating schools received Accountability Block Grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education under the category of Improving the Academic Performance of Student Subgroups. Data collected for this study included the principals’ responses to a modified version of the Inventory of School Effectiveness and their school’s scores on the 8th grade PSSA mathematics and reading examinations from 2005 through 2010. Results of the data analysis show that the participating schools significantly outperformed the state average in both mathematics and reading on the 8th grade PSSA examinations and suggest that multiple research-based practices were related to increased academic achievement among students who are economically disadvantaged. Although additional research is needed to make broad generalizations, the results of this study suggest that the Accountability Block Grant funding was instrumental in closing the achievement gap of students who are economically disadvantaged.