Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Deborah A. Harmon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ethan Lowenstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wendy Burke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Theresa Saunders, Ph.D.


The academic achievement gap for African American students compared to their White counterparts has historically and currently remained significant. Many researchers have been prompted to address this issue by examining the practices utilized to teach African American students. The findings from this study suggest that when teachers move away from the traditional methods of teaching and move toward teaching practices that take into consideration the individual student, motivation and academic performance can be achieved. This research presents a general literature review, interviews from four urban elementary school principals, and the stories of five African American urban elementary teachers who were selected by their principals and deemed successful with teaching African American students. The themes that emerged from this study include: progressive teaching philosophy, integration of technology, differentiation, cooperative learning, culturally responsive curriculum, high expectations, caring, and othermothering. The results of this qualitative study challenge educators to examine the methods that are being utilized to teach African American students in urban schools to attain academic success. The findings of this study are consistent with previous results and will be an addition to the body of knowledge about how African American students learn and how they experience academic achievement in urban schools. Implications and recommendations for this research study are provided.