Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Patricia Alvarez-McHatton

Co-Major Professor

Harold R. Keller


Culturally Responsive Teaching, Effective Instruction, Ethic of Care, Poverty, Students of Color, Students with Disabilities


Urban settings are described in scholarly literature as areas beset with high concentrations of poverty, high incidences of crime and violence, and are typically occupied by high percentages of people of color (McKinney, Flenner, Frazier, & Abrams, 2006; Mitcham, Portman, & Dean, 2009; Vera, 2011). For many children who live in low-income urban school districts, our educational system is failing them (McKinney, Flenner, Frazier, & Abrams, 2006). Swanson-Gehrke (2005) reported that at least two-thirds of these children fail to reach basic levels of achievement in reading. Such dismal achievement results may be attributed to a myriad of issues faced by students living in high poverty that may impede the learning process.

Improving the school achievement of these students requires comprehensive knowledge, unshakable convictions, and high-level pedagogical skills (Gay, 2010). The identification of effective instructional practices used to address the academic and social needs of these students has appeared to be an elusive task. The current study focused on this reality by investigating a school that has been able to create systems that result in improved academic and social outcomes of their students. Specifically, the study examined the instructional practices and beliefs of teachers of students of color with disabilities or at-risk of identification of disability at a high-performing high-poverty school.