Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Instruction & Curriculum Leadership

Committee Chair

Beverly Cross

Committee Member

Sharon Griffin

Committee Member

Alison Happel-Parkins

Committee Member

Gina Tillis


Neoliberal education reform perpetuates the dehumanizing belief in individual merit within high-stakes testing environments. As a result, schooling experiences continue to disenfranchise historically marginalized African American children because of the overreliance on narrow standards to deem students proficient in their academic progress or not. Therefore, the purpose of this narrative case study was to examine the humanizing practices that classroom teachers enact within high-stakes testing environments of state and locally authorized urban charter schools in Tennessee that primarily serve African American students. The study found that classroom teachers acknowledge the problematic nature of the high-stakes testing and accountability environments in which they operate. The study's findings cite overreliance on compliance and silence, instability in education reform, and a focus on high-stakes testing as a leading learning measure as three main obstructions to enacting humanizing pedagogy. The study's participants push against the dehumanizing environments in which they work by inseparably linking learning and trusting relationships that honor students' individuality; by incorporating learning strategies that help students achieve through their social, intellectual, and academic abilities; and by understanding and using students' realities to help them access, own, and re-engineer academic content. Based on the findings, there are implications for charter leaders, given their autonomous latitude, to give teachers greater flexibility and opportunity to enact humanizing pedagogy, specifically to the end of raising students' critical consciousness and using their agency toward social action. Implications for teacher preparation programs include designing pre-service coursework that centers humanization as praxis so that teachers enter the profession with a greater disposition toward enacting humanizing practices with their students.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest