A Case Study of a Math Teacher of Black Students: Examining Instruction that Addresses the Content Knowledge Gap Through Culturally Relevant Instruction

Theartris Childress III

This study is dedicated to Tanika, my amazing wife, whose unwavering belief and abundant care for me and our children made it possible for me to complete this work. And to our children, Nandi, Jasmine and Jeremiah, your loving presence is why I could not give up. Finally, I dedicate this study to teachers who relentlessly pursue the hearts and minds of those they serve.


This program evaluation focuses on the teaching practices of one Chicago Public School math teacher who has demonstrated success over time in the achievement of African American students. The primary research question explored how educators and leaders can learn from best practice research and case studies of exemplary math instruction the instructional and pedagogical skills needed to work effectively with African American students. Employing a qualitative research methodology, with data gathered from teacher interviews and other stakeholders, and observations, this study identified key components to improve mathematics instruction and culturally proficient practices. Policy recommendations and implications illustrate the need for change in policy in addressing the content knowledge gap of mathematics teachers, in elementary school teachers, as well as a focus on culturally responsive pedagogy and practices to address and eliminate opportunity gaps in the educational system at the school district and state levels. The results from this case study demonstrate that it is possible to work effectively with African American students and for them to be confident and successful students. Recent changes in the Illinois School Code to address the need to better prepare educators in culturally responsive practices is another step that will help our state build capacity among those responsible for the teaching and learning of all their students.