Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Vena Long

Committee Members

P. Mark Taylor, Donald J. Dessart, Robert Daverman


The purpose of this study was to investigate achievement differences of middle school and high school students in Tennessee as well as high school mathematics course enrollment as related to gender, school locale, school location, and Socio-economic Status (SES). Using data accessed from the Tennessee Department of Education’s 2003 Report Card, median male and female mathematics scores from the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) were used to examine middle school students’ achievement. Scores from the ACT Mathematics subtest were obtained from students completing the test during the 2002-2003 school year to explore achievement differences at the high school level. Finally, surveys were sent to each high school in Tennessee to study mathematics course enrollment figures.

Collected data were analyzed using the General Linear Model Repeated Measures Test to investigate differences in gender over school locale (Rural, Large Central City, Other Nonrural), location (Appalachian or Non Appalachian), and SES. A school’s SES was categorized by the percentage of disadvantaged students, those receiving free or reduced lunch, as low to moderate (less than 50 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunch), high (50 to 74.99 percent) and highest (75 percent or more).

Analysis of the middle school data revealed females significantly outscore males at grades six, seven and eight on the mathematics portion of the TCAP, regardless of school locale, location, or SES with one exception. For seventh grade students, schools in Other Nonrural locales, males slightly outscored females. Analysis also showed that for schools with high and highest percentages of disadvantaged students, Rural schools outscored both Large Central City and Other Nonrural schools.

Review of the ACT mathematics subtest scores showed comparable results in terms of school locale. Schools with high or highest percentages of disadvantaged students in Rural locales outscored Large Central City and Other Nonrural. The finding for gender differences, however, was opposite that of the middle schools, with males outscoring females across locale, location and SES.

Finally, course enrollment showed significantly more males enrolled in the entry level mathematics courses, Foundations I and II. Females enrolled at higher percentages in Algebra II, Geometry, Advanced Algebra, and Precalculus. No gender differences were found for Calculus or Calculus AB. Although the percentage differences in enrollment were statistically significant, they were not large. Of interest is the manner in which the positive difference in enrollment percentages that females have in Algebra II and Geometry courses decreases through the mathematics sequence, until no significant difference is found for the calculus courses.

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