Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Steve P. Wells


African American males often struggle to read on grade level. However, 3 East Texas Title I schools demonstrated exceptionally high levels of reading proficiency with this population. This study addressed the knowledge gap of understanding the instructional practices linked to high reading achievement of third grade African American males in Title I schools in East Texas. Guided by Ladson-Billings's theory of culturally relevant pedagogy, which builds upon academic success, cultural competence, and development of critical consciousness, and supported by Vygotsky's theory of social and cognitive constructivism, the reading instructional practices of the 3 schools were investigated. Research questions focused on the instructional strategies and practices used by the Grade 3 teachers that may explain such high reading achievement in these particular schools. The questions also addressed campus-level administrator supports for guiding effective reading instruction. Through an explanatory case study methodology, the high levels of reading achievement seen in this population were explained. Data were collected from classroom teachers and campus administrators through semistructured interviews, personal reflections, and observations. Through use of a priori codes, open coding with thematic analysis, and axial coding, the key results aligned with the conceptual framework and indicated that the application of culturally relevant pedagogy explains much of the success experienced in the schools. Three themes resonated through the study: relationships, collaboration, and high expectations. This study contributes to positive social change by engendering a deeper understanding of effective instructional reading practices for African American males.