Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Shannon Walker


Reading skills assessments have demonstrated that middle-grade Mississippi school children are on average two full grade levels or more below grade reading levels. This qualitative case study in one urban county Mississippi school district with decreasing literacy scores examined teachers' perceptions of evidence-based literacy instruction methods, which may improve literacy problem in this district. The constructive learning theory provided the conceptual framework for this study. The research questions addressed teacher perceptions regarding recommended instructional strategies, limiting factors in student literacy, and suggestions about improving literacy teaching. Ten middle-grade teachers from 3 district schools participated in semi-structured interviews on research-based instructional strategies, methods, and curriculum materials. Data from interviews and observations of teacher meetings were coded and analyzed thematically. Key findings included a lack of teacher knowledge about some evidence-based literacy instruction methods and uncertainty about the evidence supporting instructional methods. Administrative issues also emerged that impeded literacy instruction. The outcome of this study was a presentation to district administrators and a 3-day professional development (PD) program for teachers, with content tailored to address the needs of teachers in the 3 schools. This study fills a gap in the literature regarding the classroom use of evidence-based practices in schools with struggling students. The study provides a blueprint to help teachers improve their literacy instruction competency and ultimately improve the literacy skills of the students in this district.