What Does It Take For Principals to Advance Equity For Students of Color in Suburban Schools?



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Background: Pursuing educational equity continues to be a priority in public schools. Due to suburban school districts' unprecedented changes in the racial/ethnic diversity of their students, more students than ever before in the United States are attending schools with the majority of students of color. This study examined principals’ perspectives about various stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, and the community, as they sought to advance educational equity for students of color in their suburban schools. Purpose: This study explored principals' ability to use a culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL) approach in advancing educational equity for students of color in suburban schools, given the changing student demographics in the district. Research Questions: (1) How did principals in suburban schools promote equitable academic and disciplinary outcomes for students of color? (2) What aspects of culturally responsive school leadership did principals embrace in supporting students of color? (3) What challenges did principals face when implementing a culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL) approach in supporting students of color? Methods: This study employed a qualitative case study approach. Data was collected from various sources to increase academic rigor and facilitate data triangulation. Twelve principals with at least three years of experience at their respective elementary, middle, or high school campuses, with most students identified as students of color, participated in two rounds of 45–60-minute semi-structured interviews. The collected data was analyzed using inductive coding and entered into software for qualitative analysis to identify recurring themes. Findings: The participants encouraged academic and disciplinary equity by placing student success as an overarching objective, implementing a data-driven approach, and knowing students' backgrounds and needs. Participants also noted five barriers to implementing CRSL: parental disengagement, student poverty, teacher hiring issues, forced disciplinary measures, and difficulty discussing racial disparities. Conclusion: The data imply that administrators in the same district approach equity differently. Principals require assistance and district-level support to implement a CRSL approach fully. This research provides suburban school leaders with policy recommendations to create inclusive school environments for students of color.



Culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL), Equity, Equity audit, Students of color, Suburban school