Date of Completion


Embargo Period



teacher beliefs, teacher practices, low-income students

Major Advisor

Morgaen Donaldson, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Casey Cobb, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Robert Villanova, Ph.D.

Field of Study

Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)


Doctor of Education

Open Access

Open Access


This case study examined the beliefs and instructional practices of ten teachers in two high-poverty urban elementary schools. I selected these two schools since the students and staff were racially similar to help isolate the variable of social class. Data were collected on the teachers’ beliefs about low-income students and on instructional practices utilized by teachers. I used social reproduction as the theoretical framework for the research. I conducted structured interviews and announced and unannounced non-participant class observations to determine beliefs and practices used. Data were mapped to four broad concepts: beliefs influenced by social class, beliefs influenced by education reform orientation, traditional instructional practices and research-based instructional practices.

Teachers expressed personal beliefs that were influenced by their middle-class status. However, the teachers concurrently held professional beliefs that their students were capable learners. Choice of instructional practice could not be consistently predicted based on beliefs about low-income students. Some teachers with strong stereotypes about low-income learners used traditional practices typical in low-achieving schools; some used research-based practices typical in high-achieving, high-poverty schools. I conclude this study with recommendations for focusing on professional beliefs to encourage the use of research-based instructional practices as a means to close income-based achievement gaps.