Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Mary Ann Cahill

Second Advisor

Dr. Caitlin Murphy

Third Advisor

Dr. William Wells


The pursuit of social justice through education, or ensuring that all students receive equal access to a quality education, has long been the focus of policies and practices at the national and local levels. However, opportunity gaps still exist in America, in particular among socioeconomic and racial lines. This qualitative case study aimed to discover if job-embedded professional development in the area of adolescent literacy could build collective efficacy within a faculty in order to promote social justice.

The study took place in a private middle school whose mission was to serve students in low-socioeconomic circumstances, and typically students of color. The study focused on seven teacher participants throughout one school year as they engaged in job-embedded professional development and coaching in adolescent literacy. Of the seven participants, five were uncertified teachers. Data collection included professional development sessions, coaching sessions, individual interviews, focus groups, classroom observations, and document analysis.

Results of the study suggested that the policies at the school, most notably, the hiring of uncertified teachers to make up the majority of the faculty, was a significant barrier to collective efficacy in adolescent literacy. The study uses an antiracist lens to suggest that policies, especially those which may negatively impact students of color, should be urgently addressed.

Available for download on Sunday, July 07, 2024