Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Dr. Marie Cianca

Second Supervisor

Dr. Susan Hildenbrand


The study collected data on culturally responsive teaching related to educators' and families' perceptions of academic programs for urban middle school students. Middle school students of color are academically 2-3 years behind their peers who are in predominantly White suburban districts. Current research indicates that teaching from a culturally responsive perspective can help students build relationships with their teachers and connect to their education. Additionally, current data signifies students perform better when their family is engaged in their education. This qualitative research study collected data from a combination of 12 educators and family members in an urban middle school setting. Four findings emerged from this study. First, infusing student voice and pop culture can introduce cultural inclusivity to an otherwise Eurocentric-based curriculum. Second, teachers can create a culturally responsive environment by acting on knowledge and interest in students’ lived experiences. Third, all school relationships drive student connectedness. Lastly, well-planned, intentional family and school initiatives create a living curriculum that can make a lasting difference. In addition to diversity, equity, and inclusion training, recommendations for future practice include instruction for all school staff on building authentic relationships with students and family members that create culturally inclusive spaces for students. Finally, recommendations for future research include quantitative and mixed-methodology studies and the triangulation of educators, parents, and student's voices.

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