Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Thomas Pfundstein


Students' performance on standardized tests continues to dominate the discourse in the educational arena as it reflects student growth and teacher performance. The low performance index scores of 5th grade students at 2 elementary charter schools in urban southwestern Ohio has been a major concern of the school district. Guided by social constructivism, the purpose of this research study was to identify curricular practices that influence student academic achievement. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 4 reading teachers and 2 administrators; curriculum maps, tests scores, and lesson plan documents were also reviewed. Interview, test score, and lesson plan documents were analyzed through an open-coding process and constant comparison of data to ensure trustworthiness. The findings revealed that 5 th grade reading teachers and principals used teacher-centered instructional practices that did not connect with students' backgrounds. Based on the findings, a capstone project was developed that provided a content-specific professional development training for reading teachers that would expose them to student-centered instructional practices related to students' backgrounds. The implications for positive social change include engaged classrooms with student-centered instructional practices that could increase student achievement in urban schools.