Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Jared Schlenker


Within the last 100 years, the number of school districts in America has dropped by as much as 90% (Murdock, 2012), from 117,108 in 1939 to 13,452 in 2019 (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2020). Funding and how to provide educational equity, equality, and justice for all is a critical conversation. According to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) (2018), 1.94% of the state’s $1.448 billion cumulative K-12 expenditures are associated with instructional media related to academic aids such as textbooks.

The purpose of this quantitative study was to identify if the major educational publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Journeys reading series is effective in producing student academic growth in reading in Grade 4 elementary school-aged children as demonstrated through a multi-year longitudinal study. It is important to note that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) garners a 39% K-12 domestic school market instructional aid share and $1.408 billion in annual net sales (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt [HMH], 2018). For this study, 250 assessment scores were collected from pre- and post-Journeys curriculum implementation from 2009 to 2018 at the Sargent Central Public School in Forman, North Dakota. No sampling occurred within the total population. Data from 2009 to 2018 NWEA MAP (Northwest Evaluation Association Measuring Academic Progress) assessment scores were collected and analyzed.

Through three statistical procedures, the research findings demonstrate that the Journeys reading series increased annual pre- to post-NWEA MAP assessment scores by 2.23%. Compared to 4th grade students nationwide, the Journeys reading series decreased annual pre- to post-NWEA assessment percentile rankings by 10.54%. The Journeys reading series was also less effective at creating student reading growth when compared to the school’s prior reading curriculum. This study demonstrates that school curriculum influences and decisions are far-reaching.