Date of Award

Summer 2010

Access Restriction

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctorate in Education

Department

Education

School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Marta P. Baltodano, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Yvette V. Lapayese, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Edmundo F. Litton, Ed.D.

Abstract

As schools have become more diverse ethnically and linguistically, the likelihood of cultural mismatches among students, families, and teachers has increased (Frank, 1999). Culturally relevant pedagogy has at its core the understanding that incorporating students‘ culture into the practices of the school and the classroom through culturally relevant curriculum is likely to improve student cooperation, inspire a greater understanding of the educational program, and increase academic outcomes (Brown, 2004). These pedagogies have the potential to be a vital tool toward closing the achievement gap, yet the practices associated with them are in danger of meeting the same fate as multicultural education. A lack of knowledge about the theory, practice, and implementation of culturally relevant pedagogy has led to ineffective attempts to meet the needs of students most at risk (White-Clark, 2005). Using the five themes of Critical Race Theory (Solórzano & Yosso, 2001) as the theoretical framework, the research examined how teachers perceive and implement culturally relevant pedagogy, and how students and their families perceive and evaluate these practices. This research conducted at a inner city, charter elementary school was grounded on Ladson-Billings‘ work on culturally relevant pedagogy and the three concepts of knowledge that she identified that teachers must bring to the classroom and impart to their students: a) Academic achievement, b) Cultural competence, and c) Sociopolitical consciousness (Ladson-Billings, 2001). The educational significance of this study resides in an analysis of its potential to influence teaching practices in many existing classroom settings that have an ethnically diverse population of students. On a micro level, through the use of catalytic validity and ongoing dialogue with the participants, the potential arose for members of the school community to have greater input in the structuring of their children‘s education. As members of the school community engage in future decisions regarding culturally relevant strategies, these research findings offer them an informed and critical perspective to work from.

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