Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Thomas Luschei

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

DeLacy Ganley

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

June Hilton

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Rachel Pittman


bell schedule, educational equity, high school, master schedule, site administrator, within-school sorting

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision


It is well documented that excellent teachers are not equitably distributed among students in traditional public high schools. Research shows teacher labor market economics and the micropolitics of schooling significantly facilitate the migration of excellent teachers between districts and schools and within schools so the teachers may secure course assignments that house the most academically successful students. No study has yet addressed within-school assignment of teachers made by site administrators through the mechanism known as the Master Schedule. This dissertation examined the factors that influence teacher–course pairing decisions made by site administrators in traditional high school settings in California and how these factors affect educational equity at the site level as pertains to the distribution of high quality teachers. This study provides groundbreaking evidence on the role of site administrators in teacher–course pairing, and by extension, teacher–student pairing, while exploring three distinct phenomena and their interactions: (a) teacher assigned specific courses at the site level based on site–administration decision making, (b) student sorting at the site level based on site administrator decisions on which teachers are assigned specific courses, (c) and the mechanism (i.e., the Master Schedule) that merges both types of sorting. The investigation in this study employed an explanatory sequential mixed methods design with a sample drawn from the population of 965 site administrators serving as principals in traditional California public high schools offering Grades 9–12 inclusive. The respondents consisted of 114 high school administrators: (a) 99 principals, and (b) 15 assistant principals. A total of 33 of these site administrators also participated in one-on-one interviews. This study provided pioneering empirical evidence of similarities in Master Schedule practices and outcomes throughout California. This is evidenced by data analysis in this study with respect to decision making factors made by site administrators; these factors include (a) potential challenges faced by site administrators in Master Schedule creation, (b) stakeholder influence on site administrators, (c) reasons site administrators match specific teachers to specific courses, and (d) site administrator perceptions of teacher quality. Suggestions to reimagining the prevalent high school experience into other meaningful higher education and the workforce pathways are illuminated in this study. Findings can guide state, county, and district administrators in providing site administrators extensive and ongoing professional development in Master Schedule creation and implementation. Additionally, this study pointed to evidence that established university entrance criteria and state-mandated graduation requirements significantly mold the day-to-day schooling experience of all public school students such that high school site administrators may have very limited ability to alter Master Schedules. Future areas of research include examining the extent to which administrators can make changes on Master Schedules to reveal any existing systematization that inhibits educational equity with respect to the distribution of excellent teachers.