Committee Chair

Bernard, Hinsdale

Committee Member

Kelly, Kirk; Rutledge, Valerie; Tucker, James


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


This study was conducted to determine teachers' perceptions of culturally responsive policies and practices in sixteen elementary schools in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Participants completed a survey called the C.A.R.E. (Culturally Aware and Responsive Education) tool, which was developed by the researcher. The survey was administered in two sets of schools with contrasting populations and a comparative analysis between the two sets of schools was conducted. The purpose of this study was to measure teachers' perceptions regarding the level of cultural responsiveness of their school's policies and practices. An additional purpose was to validate the C.A.R.E. The sample of subjects consisted of educators from two sets of schools (referred to as Benwood Phase I schools and Benwood Phase II schools). These two groups were in differing stages of development of the same reform effort. The Cronbach's alpha was used to determine the reliability of the C.A.R.E. The C.A.R.E was determined to have an overall reliability of .928. Construct validity was established throughout the initial phases of the study by utilizing subject matter experts, including members of the dissertation committee. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics (means and standard deviations), t-tests, and chi-square. The results of this study indicate that teachers in Benwood Phase I schools perceive the policies and practices at their schools to be more culturally responsive in 28 of 33 indicators identified in the C.A.R.E. instrument. Likewise, the results also indicate that teachers in Benwood II schools scored themselves higher in 5 of 33 areas listed in the C.A.R.E. The results show that in addition to the fact that there is a significant difference in teachers' perceptions of levels of culturally responsive policies and practices in their schools, there is also a significant difference in the amount of professional development related to culturally responsive teaching among the two sets of schools. Educators in Benwood Phase I schools have had more professional development geared toward culturally responsive teaching. Lastly, this research determined that there was no significant difference in the socioeconomic backgrounds of educators in Benwood Phase I and Benwood Phase II schools, but that there is a difference between the socioeconomic backgrounds of teachers as compared to their students in both sets of schools.


I would first like to thank God for giving me the courage and perseverance to make it through this process. I hope to glorify you through my work. Ashley, you have been my most supportive friend through this tumultuous journey. Thanks for always encouraging me to "push through the pain and make it happen!" Sir Isaac Newton said, "If I have seen farther than others it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants." I can profoundly relate to this statement as I reflect on all of the wonderful mentors that I have been blessed to have in my life. Dr. Hinsdale Bernard, you held my hand through every single step of this dissertation. Thanks for always being so patient and never once letting me down. Dr. Valerie Rutledge, you have been such a great cheerleader for me throughout this process. During times when I wasn't sure if I could do it, your encouragement really made the difference. Dr. Jim Tucker, thanks for the guidance and support that began even before the dissertation as you guided me through the ILLP process. Dr. Kirk Kelly, you are an angel. Thank you so much for patiently assisting me through all of the statistical analysis of my research and for agreeing to serve on my committee. I also want to say thanks to Dr. John Freeman, Dr. Hunter Huckabay, Dr. Jesse Register, Dr. Vicki Petzko, Dr. Peggy Roblyer, Dr. Loyd Davis, Dr. Eugene Bartoo, and Dr. Ted Miller. I feel immensely privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from these individuals who I truly consider to be "Giants" when it comes to learning and leadership. Thanks to Becca McCashin for tending to all of the details and helping me stay on track. Thank you, Diana Green. You modeled the importance of relationships and you taught me that leadership is not about producing more followers, but rather about producing more leaders. To my dear friend, Bebbie Minter, thank you for your guidance over the years. You encouraged me to envision myself as a change agent capable of making a real difference for kids from backgrounds of poverty. Thanks also to my leaders at Hamilton County Department of Education; Dr. Jim Scales, Mr. James Colbert, and Mrs. Carol Langston. Thank you for granting me permission to conduct my research in the Benwood Schools and for encouraging me with your sincere inquiries and supportive words. Mrs. Susan Swanson, you were very accommodating to me throughout this whole process. Thanks for all of the "gentle reminders" for the principals participating in my research. Lastly, I want to offer a HUGE thanks to all of my friends and supporters at Chattanooga's Public Education Foundation. The opportunities that PEF has provided for me are truly nothing less than life-changing. The professional development opportunities, such as Critical Friends training, Osborne Fellows, Leadership Fellows, Benwood collaborations, professional book clubs, and the Summer Leadership Institutes have contributed greatly to my growth as an educator and leader. Words cannot express my gratitude for individuals like Dr. Dan Challenor, Mrs. Clara Sale-Davis, Mrs. Faye Pharr, Mrs. Leslie Graitcer, Dr. Ann Kilcher, Mrs. Chitra Chandrasekaran, and Mrs. Rikki Kissick because your passion for what you do has inspired me and will positively impact the lives of students and teachers in Chattanooga for years to come.


Ed. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Education.




Multicultural education--United States--Evaluation; Culturally relevant pedagogy; Education, Elementary--Curricula; Educational evaluation


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Educational Leadership

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




xiii, 140 leaves



Call Number

LB2369.1 .S627 2009