Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dr. Marilyn Robb


At a Southwestern Tennessee school, students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds consistently perform low on the state standardized test TN Ready Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP), as compared to students who are not from low socioeconomic status. In this qualitative case study elementary teachers’ views on instructional strategies for reading and math, professional development, and professional learning communities (PLC) were examined through a theoretical framework based on Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. The study included interview data from 9 teachers teaching Grades 3-5 who have been using strategies to help increase students’ academic achievement. In addition, PLC meeting minutes, and teachers’ data notebooks were reviewed. Data analysis consisted of open coding to develop common themes and patterns. The results of the analysis contributed to an understanding of how teachers benefit from ongoing professional development and PLCs to help them teach struggling students. These results led to the development of a professional development plan that provides reading and math strategies to increase all students’ academic achievement levels. This contributes to a positive social change by creating opportunities to support teachers’ instructional practices and use research-based strategies for reading and math instruction, ultimately increasing student achievement levels so that schools meet their mandated adequate yearly progress goals.