English learners (EL) account for approximately 10 percent of American public school students and a quarter of all public school students in the state of California. This student group, while already a sizable minority, is also the fastest growing group of students across the state and nation. Therefore, ways that public school systems meet, or fail to meet, the educational needs of EL students will have an increasingly significant impact on outcomes for public school students generally. However, English learners have traditionally experienced public education in very different ways from native English speaking students, ways that frequently restrict access to educational opportunities and further systemic forms of advantage for some student groups and disadvantage for others.
The purpose of this research was to better understand the relationship between the philosophies, beliefs, and practices of educational leaders, and the experiences of English learners. A conceptual framework was developed that combined the theories of Applied Critical Leadership and Moral Leadership. This framework guided the development of an interview instrument to collect qualitative data in the form of participant beliefs and practices. These qualitative data were then compared to quantitative institutional data representing EL student placement in both higher-track and lower-track educational pathways in order to understand whether a relationship between the two sets of data existed. The sample included 11 participants who were educational leaders who worked directly with EL students. Quantitative data represented course placement data for approximately 8,000 students across three high school campuses within the same district.
Findings from this research indicated that the beliefs and practices of educational leaders were consistent between schools serving demographically different communities, and that levels of equity or inequity, for English learners remained consistent on these disparate campuses. Furthermore, while all three schools had made recent progress in moving toward more equitable representation of EL students in various educational pathways, this progress may have been hindered by the lack of two leadership components, 1) the ability of educational leaders to engage site staff in critical conversations regarding race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and language proficiency, and 2) the ability of educational leaders to extend collaborative decision-making processes beyond certificated staff members in order to include the diverse perspectives of classified staff, students, parents, and community members.
Based on the findings, recommendations are made for the establishment of systemic opportunities for educational leaders to employ specific leadership practices that may achieve greater levels of equity for traditionally underserved student groups, including English learners.
|Commitee:||Gamble, Brandon, Garcia, Pauline|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Education Policy, Educational administration|
|Keywords:||Educational equity, English learners, Social justice|
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