Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Jim Kahrs

Second Advisor

Dr. Yinying Wang

Third Advisor

Dr. Karen Bryant

Abstract

Effective leadership is a critical component to student learning and engaging parents of English Language Learners (ELL). The primary purpose of this instrumental multiple comparison case study was to determine the degree in which the Georgia Vision Project's recommendation, to be responsive to the cultural make-up of the communities they serve, has impacted two different high implementation school districts. The secondary focus of the research examined the influence of leadership practices on parental involvement in schools with high ELL populations.

Awareness of viable cultural approaches for engaging ELL students and parents can be acquired by teachers during the pre-service or in-service training. However, this may be impossible if administrators lack cultural understanding themselves. Family members of English Language Learners often struggle to remain involved in their children’s academic activities due to their limited English proficiency and fear communicating with the staff. Consequently, administrators play a key role in creating effective professional development for teachers and welcoming school environments for ELL families.

Interviews of district and school leaders, parent instructional coordinators, and parents were conducted. Supporting documents were also gathered. Dedoose was used to assist with the analysis and coding of the data collected using a general inductive approach. The data collected revealed the impact of the Vision Project implementation within each district. Also, several themes emerged from the findings 1) stable school district leadership, 2) consistent mission and vision implementation, 3) clearly outlined strategic goals and priorities, 4) frequent communication with internal and external stakeholders, 5) leadership development academies for succession planning, 6) specific organizational structure for central office and schools, 7) alignment of Vision Project educational components to the district initiatives, and 8) a commitment to restoring confidence in public education.

The study contributes to the development of educational leaders in schools with diverse student populations. The findings reveal the necessity for school leaders to assess parents’ perceptions of their child’s school, given the impact parents can have on children’s attitudes about school, and the importance of supporting parental engagement. The success of students will require leaders to acknowledge the power of parents and community as important resources.

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