Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Salina M. Shrofel

Abstract

State standardized tests results indicated that between 2012 and 2016, fewer African American students at a rural, Title I elementary school met state standards in reading compared with other racial/ethnic groups of students. A gap in practice existed because the school and district had not conducted studies to understand teacher knowledge and practice as they related to teaching reading to African American students. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to address the problem and gap in practice by exploring elementary teacher knowledge and understanding of the learning needs in reading among African American students. Tomlinson's theory of differentiated instruction served as the conceptual framework for this study. Interview data were analyzed from 10 experienced elementary teachers using 2-cycle provisional coding and pattern coding, which revealed the themes that constituted the findings of my study: (a) teachers understanding of factors that contribute to underachievement in reading of some African American students, (b) professional development and preparation of teachers for teaching African American students, (c) classroom pedagogy for teaching African American students, (d) challenges that teachers encounter when teaching reading to African American students, and (e) resources and supports that teachers perceive as necessary for teaching reading to African American students. The findings indicated that elementary teachers would benefit from participating in professional development, which would help them better teach reading to African American students. The study and resulting project may affect local positive social change by increasing teacher knowledge about the learning needs in reading among African American students, leading to an eventual increase in reading achievement among African American students at the study school.