Influence of Leadership in Maintaining Equity Across Dual Language Programming

Date

2022-08-17

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Abstract

Background: School districts have implemented two-way dual language programs because of their proven positive effects on student achievement outcomes and the ability to close academic gaps for Emergent bilingual students. At the same time, the increased popularity of dual language programs is the selling point they provide communities, attracting English-dominant students to participate. Bilingualism for English language-dominant students is seen as enrichment and an additional benefit to pursue future opportunities in academics and employment. However, scholars have warned that unless two-way dual language programs are implemented with intention, they may inadvertently create inequity and, widen achievement gaps. The language acquisition needs of English learners, who the program was intended to serve, may be overshadowed by the interests of the participating English speakers. Purpose: This study seeks to examine the influence that district and campus leadership have in maintaining equity in quality across dual language program models (one-way and two-way) and the students the program serves. The two research questions that guided this study were: (1) What are the leadership styles and philosophies of dual language educational leaders? 1(a). How do dual-language leaders address equity issues in the language program models they lead? 2. How are the goals of dual language programming addressed equitably at two campuses implementing different program models (one-way and two-way)? Methods: This study employed a qualitative comparative case study approach. To triangulate data and increase rigor, data was collected through multiple sources: semi-structured interviews (with educational leaders, teachers, and parents), observations, and document analysis. Collected data was analyzed using deductive coding and entered into qualitative analysis software to identify common themes. Results: Several themes were identified during analysis of the findings in which educational leaders, teachers, and parents shared ways that leaders influence equitable practices across program models in dual language. Identified themes included the importance of leaders having knowledge about dual language program components, the process of language acquisition, and the three pillars of dual language. Analysis revealed that successful and equitable dual language program implementation benefits from leaders who focus on building relationships and communicating to build trust among those participating as parents and implementing as teachers. Participant data also revealed that in order for leaders to work toward equity in dual language programming across models and students, they must serve as advocates by integrating the program into the whole campus and district program, challenging the status quo, and honoring and valuing all participants and their families. Conclusion: The findings suggest that equitable rigor and quality of dual language programming across types of program models in the same organization depend on campus and district leadership and their knowledge about dual language programming. Dual language leaders should understand their role in its implementation. Successful dual language leaders share common leadership styles and philosophies that align with knowledge, trust, support, and advocating. This research contributes knowledge about how K-12 organizations can develop procedures and practices to support appropriate hiring and overall implementation of dual language programs for all students served.

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Keywords

English learners, Emergent bilingual students, Dual language, Equity, Leadership

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