Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Chair

Dr. Ann E. Blankenship

Committee Chair Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 2

Dr. Lilian Hill

Committee Member 2 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 3

Dr. James Fox

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 4

Dr. David E. Lee

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 5

Dr. Rose Jones

Committee Member 5 Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Abstract

Literacy is a key component to success in school and in life. Literacy has been a focus of education since 1965 when President Jimmy Carter announced a “war on poverty.” Since then, history has shown that educators should place an emphasis on literacy within schools. Because literacy is so important, I set out to explore how administrators influence literacy through the promotion and selection of professional development.

Mississippi was chosen as a basis for the study because it falls below the nation in terms of literacy rates on the National Assessment for Educational Progress assessment. Nineteen participants from four school districts across Mississippi were interviewed in this qualitative study. The data was coded and two primary themes emerged, which were professional development and best practices in literacy instruction.

Professional development was described in the study as being praxis, research based, data driven, content area specific, and collaborative. Teachers described effective professional development as guiding participants through the process of a new task instead of just telling them about the task. Teachers also stated that effective professional development should be founded on some type of research. Data should also be considered when determining which professional development should be offered. Teachers described that most effective professional development concerned their content area. Finally, teachers discussed the idea of collaborative professional development as being effective, especially professional learning communities. Discussion regarding PLCs and external professional development occurred during interviews as well. Examples of best practices in literacy instruction were also given. Professional development and best practices in literacy instruction came together to provide answers to the research questions posed in the study. Administrators influence literacy through promoting effective professional development practices that encourage best practices in literacy instruction. Conclusions that could be drawn from the research was listed and recommendations for future research was provided.

ORCID ID

orcid.org/0000-0003-3420-3319