Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Cathryn White


In an urban district, Surfside School personnel were concerned that student literacy proficiency levels were low during 2011-2014 and teachers had not been able to close the achievement gap despite a focus on literacy practices and literacy professional development (PD) provided by the district. The purpose of this case study was to explore the perceptions of teachers and administrators in relation to the best instructional practices for increasing self-efficacy when teaching literacy skills and related literacy PD for teachers. Knowles' andragogy theory and Vygotsky's social learning theory formed the theoretical foundation of this study, which hold that PD should provide teachers with explicit instruction and opportunities for collaboration. The research questions focused on how PD helps teachers improve instructional practices. The purposeful sample consisted of 4 middle school teachers and 3 administrators and was collected through surveys, observations, semi-structured interviews, and archival documents. Data analysis consisted of an inductive approach of axial coding and categorizing the interview and observational data to derive themes. Themes supporting the findings indicated targeted PD and instructional coaching (IC) focused on evidence based literacy practices for low-income students using culturally relevant pedagogy were needed to improve teacher self-efficacy and student learning. Findings also indicated that the PD trainings could work more effectively if the teachers had more time to collaborate with the IC. Thus, the resulting project provides collaborative PD and IC targeting literacy practices using culturally relevant pedagogy. Teacher use of these practices will promote social change by improving the students' literacy support in the target district.