Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Jerita Whaley


In 1 urban Tennessee school, students in Grades 3 through 5 had not met adequate yearly progress in reading for the past 5 years. The purpose of this case study was to explore teachers' perceptions of current district-recommended teaching practice in reading. The research questions related to current instructional strategies, teaching practices, challenges, and perceptions of current instructional strategies and changes needed to improve students' reading achievement. This study was grounded in the constructivist theoretical framework of Vygotsky. Twelve educators from Grades 3 through 5 and a reading specialist participated in this study. The data were collected from interviews, minutes from professional learning community meetings, and the district guidelines for instruction. Data analysis included open coding to determine common patterns and development of common themes. Findings indicated that teachers described the district learning strategies and guidelines as aligned with the reading curriculum map, and they saw the reading specialist as a valuable resource. Teachers specified that although they were trained in district-recommended strategies, they needed more professional development and support to implement the reading strategies effectively. Teachers wanted job-embedded professional development (PD) to help them develop expertise in implementing effective reading instruction to increase student achievement. To address this, a professional learning community PD project was created. Participation in the PD project may help teachers to implement reading instruction using research-based strategies in accord with district guidelines to improve student reading achievement.