Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Systems Improvement Science

Committee Member

Jane C. Lindle

Committee Member

Tony W Cawthon

Committee Member

Daniella H Sutherland

Committee Member

Renee Jefferson


This research study explored the presence of implicit racial bias in South Carolina curriculum policy within its content standards for U.S. history and the Constitution. Curriculum policy discourse flows through the statewide public school system from the legislature, through district offices, and into classrooms. That discourse guides classroom teachers on what the state legislated as essential knowledge of U.S. history. Teachers make instructional choices based on state and district guidance documents that may affect the performance of Black students on South Carolina’s U.S. History and Constitution End-of-Course Exam (USHC-EOC). This study describes the educational policy discourse from macro-documents, meso- documents and interviews with one district-level curriculum expert, and micro-level interviews with five classroom teachers. Using the framework lenses of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in education (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995) and Improvement Science (Bryk et al., 2015), I employed the methods of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (Fairclough, 1995; Jäger, 2001; Wodak & Meyer, 2009) to determine if legislative and policy language at various policy discourse levels contained vestiges of implicit bias within the delivery of U.S. History and Constitution content standards to South Carolina’s U.S. history classroom teachers. The findings in this study indicate that South Carolina’s U.S. history curricular discourse includes vestiges of implicit bias. State-sanctioned standards and support documents provided to classroom teachers involve curricular gaps that minimize or void Black Americans' contributions to the country. School districts proliferate implicit bias in the U.S. history curriculum by aligning the instructional expectations for their teachers with those standards to meet the demands of the USHC-EOC. Interviews with educators in this study revealed the following themes related to their interaction with the discourse of U.S. history standards in South Carolina and potential limits on the development of a more culturally responsive curriculum: (a) content narratives center around a White curriculum, (b) stakeholder influences affect standards creation, organization, and revision processes (c) teacher autonomy within the prescribed curriculum, (d) tendencies towards teaching to the state’s high-stakes standardized test (USHC-EOC), (e) demands on instructional time to deliver content and learning experiences, and (f) discomfort with engaging students in racial dialogue.



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