Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Vincent A. Anfara

Committee Members

Joy T. DeSensi, Pamela Angelle, Gerald Ubben


The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine the relationship between the cultural competence level of urban elementary school teachers and the academic achievement of their students as measured by standardized testing. The specific research questions addressed throughout the course of this study were:
(1) What is the relationship between the (level of) cultural competence of the teacher and his/her students’ academic achievement as measured by standardized testing?
(2) How do urban elementary school teachers understand cultural competence?
(a) How do they define/describe cultural competence?
(b) What groups do they include in their definition of cultural competence?
(c) What does cultural competence mean to them?
(d) What skills, knowledge and attributes do they possess related to cultural competence especially that impact academic achievement?
The quantitative findings revealed that there was no significant relationship between the teachers’ scores on the “Personal and Professional Beliefs About Diversity” scales and the students’ scores on standardized tests measured in either normal curve equivalents or percentage of students scoring proficient and advanced. The qualitative data were collected through interviews with urban elementary school teachers and demonstrate a link between teacher cultural competence and student academic achievement through improved relationships with students. Findings also discuss the themes developed to explain how urban elementary school teachers understand the concept of cultural competence.

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