Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Jami Royal Berry

Second Advisor

Dr. Kevin Fortner

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Presutti


For the past several decades, non-core programs such as instrumental music instruction have been cut in many schools, largely due to the failure of accountability measures to inform policy makers about the impact of these programs on achievement (Major, 2013). This dissertation addressed this failure by investigating the question, “to what extent does school-based instrumental music instruction impact the learning outcomes of a cohort of high school students in a private Catholic school setting?”

This study compared achievement of students engaged in an instrumental music program versus their non-engaged peers, measured by standardized test means in mathematics and reading. The first stage engaged a stratified propensity score match (PSM) to identify an adequate comparison group, in order to minimize selection bias. The dependent variable was a categorical variable indicating whether or not a student participated in band. The independent variables included gender, ethnicity, standardized test scores, and subject grades. In the second part of the study, groups identified through the PSM are compared using linear regression models utilizing reading and math score means from the SAT-10, and the critical reading and math sections of the PSAT administered in the 2013-2014 academic year.

The participants were approximately 210, 8th – 12th grade students attending a private K-12 Catholic school in the suburbs of Atlanta. The student body is predominantly middle to lower-upper class (75% Caucasian, 12% Hispanic, 6% Asian, 1% African American, and 6% of mixed race) with an approximately equal number of females and males. All students included in the cohort for research attended the school for at least 5 years. The IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Software was used to conduct the analysis.

INDEX WORDS: Standardized Test, Band, Instrumental Music, Propensity Score Match