Date of Award

Fall 12-12-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Dr. Julie Rainer Dangel

Second Advisor

Dr. Barbara Meyers

Third Advisor

Dr. Joyce E King

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Rhina Fernandes Williams


In contrast to the diversity of students, the implementation of federal policies has created a push for standardization in pedagogy and curriculum that serve culturally and linguistically diverse students. Effects include narrowing of curriculum and pedagogy, proliferation of prescriptive literacy programs, increased high-stakes testing, and negative effects on teachers’ identity, autonomy, and desire to teach. Simultaneously, teaching prospective teachers how to construct culturally relevant curriculum and pedagogy is emphasized as a vital part of teacher preparation. However, research shows that even when teachers leave programs with preparation for culturally relevant teaching, initial jobs and local contexts shape and constrain teachers’ ideologies, agency, goals, and practice connected to teaching diverse students. In response to research, this study was designed to investigate how novice Teach For America teachers with an espoused culturally relevant pedagogy ideology implement a scripted literacy program in urban classrooms. A multiple case study design guided data collection and analysis. Data collection included interviews, observations, observation debriefs, visual representations, documents, and teaching artifacts. The data were analyzed using a constant comparative approach and Grounded Theory techniques. These teachers were constrained and influenced by several institutional and contextual factors, yet were able to negotiate their educational beliefs with the requirements of their mandated scripted literacy program to enact tenets of culturally relevant teaching. The findings suggest teacher preparation programs need to have a conceptual framework embedded in coursework and field experiences that empowers beginning teachers to negotiate the sociopolitical constraints of their school context to meet the needs of students.