Chris Roye-Gill

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Coaxum III, James


English language--Study and teaching--African American students


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


A plethora of research exists citing the poor academic performance of African American children in this country (D'Angiulli, Siegel, & Maggi, 2004; Labov, 1971, 1995; Miranda, Webb, Brigman, & Peluso, 2007). A large amount of the research is specific to reading deficits identified with African American students. Students who are successful readers are also successful in the other content areas. Lytel and Botel (1990) along with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE, 2009) contend that literacy encompasses reading, writing, speaking, and understanding. They go further to say that if one is to acquire these skills, learning has to be relevant. Sword and Wheeler (2004) contend that the traditional pedagogical practices create barriers for the child who struggles to learn mainstream American English as these methods are exclusionary and say his language is error-filled or incorrect. If teachers are to be effective in the classroom, they must create a way to overcome these linguistic barriers. A welcoming culture is crucial to the promotion of human learning, and only when we invite the "whole" child into our classroom will we be contributing to this element of school culture (Barth, 2002). When we include the students' home language we are including his culture thereby helping him make meaning from and connect to the instruction. To include African American Vernacular English in the classroom validates the language and culture of those students who possess it as their primary language. Additionally, to include African American Vernacular can provide teachers with the tool they need to be more effective.