Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Elizabeth Currin


The achievement gap is a notorious construct of 21st-century schools and refers to the achievement of marginalized groups as compared to their White counterparts. This qualitative action research studied this phenomenon in a small, suburban school district experiencing shifting demographics by analyzing educators’ perceptions and attitudes for multicultural education and culture-centered themes. Survey responses and interview data were coded using Banks’s five dimensions of multicultural education (content integration, knowledge construction, equity pedagogy, prejudice reduction, and empowering school culture) to frame professional learning opportunities for White, middle-class educators. Additionally, emergent themes were identified that impact the achievement gap in this setting: 1) whiteness as a barrier to equity, 2) intersectional identities, 3) administrative barriers to equity, and 4) educators as activists. The findings and implications of this research are summarized in the Educator Cultural Awareness Professional Learning Plan (E-CAPLP) for individual or district-wide use. The E-CAPLP seeks to focus professional learning on developing equitable opportunities for historically underserved students.