Date of Award


Degree Name

Leadership Studies


College of Education and Professional Development

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Bobbi Nicholson, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Feon Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Bob Rubenstein


This study examined the perceptions of educators (i.e., math teachers, administrators, and others) for insight into the absence of acceleration as a common pedagogical strategy in mathematics, despite longstanding research supporting the practice for students gifted in math and the interest frequently articulated by policymakers and educators in boosting American K-12 students’ math achievement. Educators from 48 states responded to scale-based and open-ended questions about math acceleration through an online survey where 713 of 818 respondents were teachers, balanced almost evenly among elementary, middle, and high schools, and among urban, suburban, and rural settings. The responses of teachers and non-teaching educators indicated a series of logistical and philosophical factors serving as barriers to acceleration, agreeing most often on seeing (1) philosophical opposition to acceleration on equity grounds, and (2) a school focus on struggling students. Open-ended responses endorsing more math acceleration were grounded in embracing the academic and social/emotional learning needs of advanced math students, while negatively worded responses were grounded mostly in the perceived emotions and relative standing of other non-accelerated students. Over 75% of educators supported math acceleration broadly defined to include “above-average” students. Educators generally supported the needs for math acceleration and for grouping gifted math students together, though some insisted on the typical same-age grouping for all found in our received age-grade factory model of education. This study was consistent with prior research advising that student learning would be vastly improved if schools aligned learning with students’ readiness and vast diversity, rather than their individual ages.


Teachers -- Mathematics.

Gifted children -- Mathematics -- Education.

Philosophical issues.

Equity -- Education.

Academic achievement.