Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Marilyn Simon


There is a lack of understanding regarding how sensemaking could be incorporated into a professional development program to improve teacher quality and student achievement. The lived experiences of high school English language development teachers as they interpret English language development and one state's high school exit exam instructional policies were explored in this phenomenological study. The conceptual framework that supported this study is based on the theory of sensemaking, the processes by which educators interpret and implement policies. The participants were English language development teachers of English learners who have not yet passed the exit exam. Data were collected through in-depth interviews and artifact collection. An analysis of participants' responses was conducted which lead to the disclosure of themes related to sensemaking. The findings of the study indicated teachers' interpretations and implementations of instructional policies are not in line with the intentions of the policies. Contributing to positive social change, this study provided a better understanding of teacher sensemaking and its potential to transform professional development, improve teacher quality, and increase student achievement. The study includes recommendations for professional development programs including developing standards-based outcomes, supervising policy implementation, defining roles and responsibilities, and building teacher capacity.