Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Timothy Lafferty


The local school district mandated the implementation of differentiated instructional (DI) strategies to strengthen students’ reading skills and curtail literacy deficits. The problem addressed by this study was that elementary reading teachers experienced difficulty implementing DI in their mixed-ability classrooms. The purpose of this study was to investigate the local elementary reading teachers’ perceptions about using DI in the classroom and to explore what teachers believed was needed to improve the effectiveness of their practice. Tomlinson’s DI model and Vygotsky’s theory of constructivism formed the conceptual framework that guided this study. The research questions focused on reading teachers’ perceptions about using DI in the classroom and about their perceptions of DI skills needed to improve their instructional effectiveness. A basic qualitative design was used to capture the insights of 10 reading teachers through semistructured interviews; purposeful sampling was used to select the participants. Emergent themes were identified through open coding, and the findings were developed and checked for trustworthiness through member checking and rich descriptions. The findings revealed that participants identified DI as a challenging instructional method requiring specific resources, administrator support, and professional development. This study may contribute to positive social change by providing teachers and administrators with a deeper understanding of practices that are needed to increase the effective implementation of DI to improve student performance in reading skills.

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