Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Maureen Ellis


Historically, identifying solutions to the achievement gap between Black and White students has plagued education. Twenty-first century challenges have emerged to include an achievement gap between Black and Hispanic students in literacy as early as 4th grade. Limited research exists on the use of English language learner (ELL) instructional strategies with Black standard English learners (SELs). This project study narrows the gap in previous research. The goal was to use a collective case study approach to investigate the professional development needs of the Northeast School District through the perspective of 5 Title I, ELL, kindergarten through sixth-grade elementary school principals. Social constructivism guided the theoretical framework. The research questions focused on principals' perceptions of the effect of ELL strategies on Hispanic ELL literacy rates and the benefits of systemic professional development on using ELL strategies for Black SELs. Data were collected from the principals through a focus group discussion and 5 semi-structured interviews. The data were then transcribed and coded to establish themes, based on the participants' perceptions. The major themes centered on the need for teachers to understand and incorporate their student culture in lessons through cultural proficiency; the instructional benefits for Black SELs in ELL classrooms; and the importance of consistent, applicable, systemic professional development. School districts may use these findings results to make decisions on systemic professional development for elementary school administrators and teachers, with positive results for Black SEL proficiency in literacy.