A Comparison of Leadership Practices between Principals of High and Low Performing Title I Elementary Schools with English Language Learners within the Same Suburban School District
Gallardo, Humberto Alejandro
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The current high pace of immigration to the United States during the last decades has brought complex challenges to public schools that now are serving a growing immigrant student population that most likely have not yet developed their English language proficiency well enough to benefit from receiving academic instruction in English and ultimately are classified as English language learners (ELLs). Historically, ELLs score below proficient levels in reading and math assessments, and have higher dropout rates. Projections made by Passel (2011) indicate that by the year 2050, immigrant students will make up about one-third of more than 100 million U.S. children. The purpose of study was to examine and describe reported perspectives, priorities, and behaviors of successful and unsuccessful principals that lead Title I schools with ELLs. Specifically, the study described principals’ reported approaches to delegate instructional responsibilities affecting the education of ELLs, the strategies employed to involve parents of ELLs, the manner in which they prioritize the steps needed to obtain academic success with ELLs and their personal perspectives regarding the successful education of ELLs. This qualitative study utilized a purposeful sampling strategy to select the eight school principals that were interviewed. The participants were divided in two groups. One group included four elementary principals with higher academic growth in reading and math between the years 2013 and 2014 according to the TAPR reports published by TEA. Another group comprised four elementary principals whose academic growth in reading and math was lower during the same period. A semi-structured interview was used to collect data from the elementary school principals participating. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. From their information nine common themes between both groups of principals were developed. The responses from the group of school principals with lower academic growth allowed two more thematic categories to emerge. The findings suggest that both groups of principals perform similar leadership practices to delegate instructional responsibilities to ensure the academic success of ELLs. They also utilized comparable strategies to involve parents of ELLs. These principals used equivalent data sources to make instructional decisions regarding ELLs and to determine staff developments needed by teachers of ELLs. Further research is necessary in order to determine the difference in academic performance of Title I schools with ELLs.
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