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School leadership for Social Justice: Exploring the relationship between the beliefs and practices of school leaders in title I schools and student achievement
Rozich, Elizabeth S.
Fisher, DouglasGanley, DeLacy
Pang, ValeriePerez, William
Practicing school leadership that is focused on providing a just and equitable education for all students has garnered attention in the field of education over the past several decades. However, the concept of school leadership for social justice as a construct remains muddled, in part, because the relationship between leadership for social justice and student achievement remains unclear (Riehl, 2012). To address the need to clarify and support the construct of school leadership for social justice as an effective approach to school leadership, the differences between high and low performing school leaders in Title I schools were explored using a convergent mixed-method study (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). Both qualitative and quantitative data about the beliefs and practices of school leaders were collected from school leaders, parents, and teachers in three high and three low performing Title I elementary schools. These data were compared with attention to relationships between the beliefs and practices of school leaders and student achievement. Findings from semi-structured interviews indicate three main differences between the high performing schools (HPSs) and low performing schools (LPSs). First, the high performing school leaders (HPSLs) focused on how to provide an equitable education while the low performing school leaders (LPSLs) focused on why to provide an equitable education; this affected their temporal gauge. Second, HPSLs were seen as by parents as being like family and were found to have a warm demander mindset while the LPSLs were seen by parents as caring yet had a pobrecitos mindset. Third, HPLSs worked with a clear vision for students to reach their highest academic potential with other subgoals this ultimate goal. In contrast, LPSLs met goals for their own sake instead of in service of the goal of students reaching their highest academic potential. Thus, the goals of welcoming, meeting nonacademic needs, and resource distribution became distractors as opposed to supportive subgoals. Two significant differences between the scores on the Principal Instructional Management Rating Scale (PIMRS) completed by teachers at HPSs and teachers at LPSs were found. These were for the principal instructional leadership behavior functions of supervise and evaluate instruction and protect instructional time. By synthesizing the literature with the findings of this study, a description for school leadership for social justice was outlined. This description included the following novel recommendations: school leaders should develop a critical servant mindset, establish and maintain a laser-like vision for students reaching their highest potential, and develop a warm demander style. The term warm demander was used here to describe the view parents had of HPSLs as more like family in contrast to the pobrecitos mindset of the LPSLs. Findings support the development of an algorithm for designing effective school leadership for social justice or the development of an instrument that measures the impact of school leadership for social justice beliefs and practices on student achievement. Such an instrument could be used to provide quantitative evidence for the relationship between school leadership for social justice and student achievement.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Claremont Graduate University and San Diego State University, 2017
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