Theses and Dissertations


Kim L Wiley

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Coats, T. Linda

Committee Member

Hamil, Burnette

Committee Member

Gainer, Donna

Committee Member

Xu, Jianxhong

Committee Member

McGrath, Vincent

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Secondary Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


With the declining presence of African-American teachers in the teacher workforce, it is necessary to examine plausible causes for this phenomenon. Previous research suggests that most African-American teachers teach in high minority, high poverty schools. Consequently, they face substantial challenges related to student achievement and social and cultural disparities. No Child Left Behind is an education reform policy designed to bridge the gap between the educational disparities which exist, placing emphasis on teacher accountability and student achievement. The accountability requirements established by NCLB have generated significant pressure for teachers, particularly African-American teachers in struggling schools who must make Adequate Yearly Progress in order to avoid federal sanctions and public labeling as failing schools. Therefore, since African-American teachers often teach in schools most affected by NCLB, an examination of their experiences regarding various aspects of the law and its affect on teacher morale is essential to understanding the far-reaching implications of education reform. The focus of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of how NCLB has affected teacher morale for African-American teachers in low-performing middle schools. Specifically, a phenomenological, qualitative method was used to capture their experiences in an effort to uncover the realities these teachers face in the classroom. The overall objective of this study was to develop a richer awareness of what it means to teach in underperforming schools, while seeking academic excellence within them. Results from this study generated five themes related to teacher morale among African-American teachers in low performing middle schools. An examination of these themes indicated that teacher morale among African-American teachers in low performing middle schools was influenced by NCLB due to published test scores and NCLB’s inability to address the social and cultural disparities that exist in education. However, despite the challenges of NCLB, African-American teachers remained dedicated to their calling as teachers seeking to help their students succeed despite the odds.



African-American educators||teacher morale||level 2 schools||No Child Left Behind Act