Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, EDD

Committee Chair

Alagaraja, Meera

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Ingle, W. Kyle

Committee Member

Buecker, Harrie

Committee Member

Hampton, Georgia

Author's Keywords

culturally relevant teaching; cultural relevant teachers; common core; cooperative learning; reflective teaching; Ladson-Billings


The purpose of this study was to describe culturally relevant teachers’ beliefs and teaching practices as they implement the Reading CCSS. It was hypothesized that by exploring the beliefs and practices of teachers who practice a culturally relevant pedagogy, this research could provide evidence of the specific and identifiable practices that demonstrated high expectations, culturally competency, and critical consciousness. This research could provide evidence of effective strategies, which could be used to impact the literacy achievement of students of color while the teacher implements the Reading Common Core State Standards or any standards movement that follows. A qualitative case study research design was used in this investigation to analyze elementary school teachers whose use of culturally relevant practices positively enabled students of color to engage in the Reading CCSS. Three teachers of grades four and five were chosen because of their professional development practices and understanding of cultural competency. A short answer question, interviews, classroom observations, and artifacts generated data that, when analyzed, showed that all three teachers made it a priority to create a positive and cooperative learning environment that enabled students to engage with the reading standards. Each teacher was committed to learning about all their students and utilizing their students’ culture and interest to provide meaningful literacy instruction. Even though various literacy approaches were used, each teacher felt that working with their students and allowing students to work in small groups provided them the opportunity to have a positive impact on student engagement, which led to student achievement. In regards to culturally relevant pedagogy, the teachers in the study expected all students to be success with the standards in that they used formative assessments as a way to reflect on their own teaching. Next, the participants used events in the community to connect to the content being taught in the classroom. Finally, these participants expected students to look beyond the words on the page and to use their cultural knowledge to determine the purpose of the message being delivered by the author. These teachers welcomed student input that was against mainstream beliefs and encouraged students to build their arguments using facts. It was recommended that school leaders should establish a vision where all students are expected to achieve at high levels. In this expectation, students are to be exposed to higher level thinking opportunities regardless of their current academic output. A school vision should embrace and use the communities in which students live in the classroom. Is up to school leaders to keep this clear and visible in materials used, lessons taught, and individual classroom communities. Lastly, a classroom teacher must reflect and analyze why their students are learning or why they are not. Historically, race has not been part of instructional decision-making; however, as the United States becomes more culturally diverse, students bring with them their beliefs. Classroom teachers should utilize and embrace students’ individuality as an instructional strategy when developing learning opportunities for their students.