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The culminating experience for our MA in Educational Leadership is Thesis. Thesis is important research, preferably related to or embedded in an area of professional practice in which the student is currently engaged. Our experienced faculty and students know that good practices are driven by good research that is conducted with interests of the practitioner in mind. At Centenary, the thesis process is embedded in the two capstone courses, typically completed at the end of a student’s program. Students select a topic, conduct a thorough literature review, design a unique research methodology, present their findings and discuss the outcomes related to previous research – all within the context of a scholarly paper.
See some of the innovative topics thesis topics include:

Common Summative Assessment Methods and Standardized Achievement in Science: A Comparative Study

Matthew Kosensky

Matthew KosenskyEducational policy places heavy emphasis on the ability to gauge student achievement levels both in the classroom and at state and federal guidelines. Such purposes have evolved into formative and summative approaches to gauge these outcomes. The structure and format of both methodologies have traditionally varied based on the instructor due to instructional style and individual student needs. Given differing instructional delivery method and student population disparity, many districts have tackled this issue of assessing students universally through the development of common assessments.

The problem under investigation my research focuses on is the standardized achievement among students in conjunction with the development of common based summative assessment methods in the content area of science focusing on middle school populations. Is there a significant relationship between common based summative assessment tasks and standardized academic performance in middle school science students? Are there any discrepancies between different populations of students that indicate significant changes in middle school standardized science achievement since the implementation of the common summative assessment program?

The participants of the study comprised cycling populations of middle school students focusing on the content area of science. Groups of students were identified based on key factors such as gender and academic years of participation in common summative assessment methods in the classroom. Furthermore, each academic year was assigned exam score categories to dis-play a possible relationship in significant changes in performance between different individual students based on gender. These factors were organized into experimental and control groupings, respectively, in which a standardized science exam served as a data marker for evaluation of the conducted study.
The control years indicated a decrease in scale score average of 3.38, and the experimental years indicated a decrease in scale score average of 1.20. Gender-based analysis of performance further indicated a significance value of 0.004 and 0.463 during the control years, and experimental years indicated a significance value of 0.895 and 0.168. Based on these findings, the conclusions of the research indicated no significant difference between the participation in common summative assessment and standardized achievement levels when analyzed at the general level and at the identified discrepancy of gender.

Despite the data, this is not indicative of a negative relationship between common summative assessment practices and student achievement. Student achievement levels in the class-room have maintained similar levels in performance in the classroom. Multiple factors could have played a role in the production of the data such as population limitations within the study, the dynamics of student interactions in each analyzed population, and the foundation of common summative assessment development in the classroom. Faced with these factors, it is extremely encouraging that the achievement levels in the assessed areas of science was not hindered by gender discrepancy among the given populations of middle school students at the research site. This data provides opportunistic areas of analyzing assessment programs at the classroom and school district level that can help to guide further research of different parameters of learning standards and standardized assessment tools.