Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Phillip Rapp


African-American students continue to lag behind White peers in nationwide test scores, in part due to deficits in literacy skills which may be connected to use of African American English (AAE) in the school setting. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between exposure to varying levels of mainstream American English (MAE) for AAE-speaking students and specific literacy skills during Reading Recovery intervention. Elementary schools were designated as high exposure or low exposure to MAE based on school racial demographics, and pre and postintervention scores of first-grade students in Reading Recovery intervention were analyzed to determine differences. First-grade teachers and Reading Recovery teachers of the student participants were surveyed using the African American English Teacher Attitude Scale (Hoover, McNair, Lewis, & Politzer, 1997) to determine differences in attitude towards AAE related to levels of exposure to the dialect. Findings indicated few differences between MAE- and AAE-speaking students in overall literacy growth during intervention. AAE-speaking students were similar in preintervention scores and overall growth regardless of school demographics, except in the area of letter identification, where students in low exposure schools entered intervention with significantly higher scores. Teacher attitudes towards AAE were not found to be related to school demographics. Recommendations include early screening for dialect use, immediate support and intervention for AAE-speaking students entering school, and thorough training for teachers in recognition and support of dialect-speaking students in schools.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.