College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Joan Lakebrink

Second Advisor

Fr. Patrick McDevitt

Third Advisor

Dr. Harold London


The purpose of this study is to explore if a middle school advisory program significantly effected student learning. Educators who advocate for the middle school concept for middle-level education claim that purposefully designed advisory programs can have specific beneficial effects. However, a limited body of knowledge and little empirical evidence supports this assumption. This study uses an ex-post facto quasi-experimental design comparing three consecutive eighth grade classes in a middle school where such an advisory program was developed. The program was designed to improve student learning through improved relationships, interventions, and additional instruction time. The first eighth grade class had no advisory program; the second had one year of advisory during eighth grade; the third group had two years of advisory during seventh and eighth grade. The researcher‘s hypothesis is that learning improved as a result of the program and that increased exposure resulted in increased learning.

To substantiate this, the study looks at ANOVA comparing differences in learning measures by year of study. The study also employs ANCOVA to compare years of study within the subgroups (covariates) of race, gender and income. Comparisons were made utilizing student grade point average, Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) scores, and Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) test scores for each class of students. Results indicated no significant differences in learning measures‘ outcomes by year. Several main effects were found in the comparison of performance of students by race, income, and gender. Limitations of this study as well as implications for middle-level school practice and recommendations for future research are also included.


Dr. William Hoecker was also a dissertation advisor.