Exploring Experiences of Alternatively Certified Teachers Teaching in Low Socioeconomic Status Schools

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Trish Lichau, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Yolonda Pawielski, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Julia Britt, Ed.D.


Teacher retention remains a concern for public schools within the United States. Each year, a large percentage of teachers leave the classroom and education altogether. The current study focused specifically on contributing factors to an alternatively certified teacher’s (ACT) willingness to enter a classroom in a socioeconomically disadvantaged public school and to remain within it for multiple years. It was designed in response to the lack of current research using a phenomenological approach to study the lived experiences of ACTs. Using Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory and the work of Darling-Hammond in defining experience as contextual pillars, the elements related to ACTs’ perceptions of favorable experiences were explored, explaining how their human experiences may have influenced their willingness to continue teaching within a low socioeconomic status (SES) school. Purposive sampling was used to recruit eight participants within this phenomenological study. Questionnaires, interviews, and journal entries were used to retrieve the experiences of the participant. Results obtained from each participant’s account of their own teaching experiences indicated that factors such as community, connectedness, cultural responsiveness, parent involvement, and mentorship opportunities were positive contributors to remaining within the classroom.

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