Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Franz, Dana

Committee Member

Hare, Dwight

Committee Member

Hamil, Burnette

Committee Member

Burg, Clarence

Committee Member

Fabel, Paul

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Secondary Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


This study investigates my experiences as a rural Mississippi secondary mathematics teacher. The culture surrounding accountability testing and rural education as well as student perceptions of my mathematics instruction and classroom management were investigated. With recent educational legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, teachers and students are experiencing education differently than teachers and students of the past. Through this basic interpretive case study, I sought to increase the limited research surrounding student perceptions of rural mathematics instruction and accountability testing and to provide a descriptive image of teaching in this rural school. The students, administrators, and test-based accountability were shown to have strong influences on mathematics instruction. The use of math manipulatives, competitive games, and reward systems were perceived as beneficial to many students. Some students? perceptions regarding cooperative learning and technological implementations were not as definitive or as positive as the engaging instruction. Disruptive behaviors, poor classroom management, administrative organization, and standardized test preparations caused instructional time to be lost. Inconsistencies in scheduling, instruction, and management were shown to influence the instructional climate. Teacher preparedness to teach students of differing cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds was shown to create various challenges in classroom instruction. The rural characteristics of this school minimized course offerings, increased individualized instruction, and presented monetary issues that were challenging and also beneficial to the students and teachers. As for accountability testing, teachers and administrators in this school tended to accept the testing culture with some disagreements, while students believed state assessments motivated them to perform better in class despite increasing certain levels of anxiety before and after the assessments. The implications of this study describe how teaching and learning in this school were filled with obstacles both teachers and students had to overcome in order to improve student achievement. Several recommendations for this school, future educators, and state and national departments of education are provided. Finally, this study provides an in depth look at the small details that make teaching in this rural school an everyday challenge.



Instructional Influences||School Culture||Accountability Testing||Secondary School||Rural||Mathematics||Education, Rural--Mississippi.||Educational accountability--Mississippi.||High school students--Mississippi--Attitudes.||High school teachers--Mississippi--Attitudes.||Mathematics--Study and teaching (Middle school)--Mississippi.||Mathematics--Study and teaching (Secondary)--Mississippi.