Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

EdD Educational Leadership


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Perry, Jill A.

Committee Member 1

Kerrigan, Monica

Committee Member 2

Ieva, Kara


detracking, differentiation, high school, mathematics, science, sensemaking


Track system (Education); Mathematics teachers; Science teachers


Curriculum and Instruction | Science and Mathematics Education


The purpose of this case study was to examine how individual science and mathematics teachers within a particular high school made sense of a district differentiation effort. A focus on teachers' perceptions and interpretations of this effort was targeted through the theoretical framework of sensemaking. Two of the teachers were present for an initial detracking reform effort, which enabled the researcher to examine their sensemaking of both initiatives.

There were clear differences in the sense that teachers made of the differentiation initiative. Additionally, there were multiple factors that impacted teacher sensemaking; the district initiative was not one of these factors. Consistent with prior sensemaking research, it was found that teachers' interpretations of the change were impacted by various contextual factors including: the number and scope of district initiatives, the clarity of the goal, the time and support provided, the professional development available, socialization factors, and prior experience with a detracking effort. Unless the teachers experienced some form of paradigm shift, they did not develop reformed instructional practices. Those who had engaged in prior professional learning experiences that fundamentally shifted their core beliefs about student learning and assessment, prior to the differentiation initiative, held the most complex understandings of differentiation and demonstrated the more reformed teaching practices than those who had not.