Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Charol Shakeshaft

Second Advisor

Barbara Driver

Third Advisor

Jennifer Joy-Gaba

Fourth Advisor

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley





By Jennifer Crowe Coleman, Ph.D.

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Virginia Commonwealth University, 2014

Major Director: Charol Shakeshaft, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Educational Leadership

School of Education

While there are broad, societal forces that contribute to achievement gaps, the professional development of teachers is one way educational leaders have sought to improve schools, improve teacher performance, and increase teacher knowledge and skills. Given the achievement and cultural gaps that exist between teachers and students, professional development that targets the development of teacher cultural competence in an effort to reach all students is necessary. The purpose of this study is to describe the implementation of a cultural competency professional development program across 62 schools in a large, suburban school district in central Virginia, comparing and contrasting implementation activities and outcomes over the 2-year period of its implementation with the initial expectations for the professional development initiative.

This quantitative, nonexperimental study was carried out in two phases. The purpose of Phase 1 was a content analysis of the professional development plans of each of the district’s schools. Phase 2 consisted of a multiple choice, electronic survey of those who were trainers of the cultural competency professional development initiative in order to examine the implementation of the cultural competency professional development program and the relationship between the intended goal and the actual outcomes of the initiative. The survey was also used to collect demographic data, such as race and years of experience in education, in order to determine what, if any, impact these factors may have had on the implementation of the professional development initiative.

Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to generalize the results to the population the sample represents. As this initiative was not designed to provide the training necessary to expect changes in classroom practice, this survey and its analysis focused on the trainers’ perspectives on the implementation of the professional development initiative. The results of this research were offered to frame a discussion around the fidelity of implementation; the factors that affected implementation; the relationship between the intended goals of the initiative and the actual outcomes of the initiative; and suggested next steps for the district as it moved toward a goal of a more culturally proficient workforce.


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