Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Jami Royal Berry

Second Advisor

Yinying Wang

Third Advisor

Craig Barlow


Research has continually supported the idea that increased levels of parental involvement in educational settings have a positive effect on student outcomes across racial, socioeconomic, and cultural lines. Despite the clear connection between parental involvement and student success high needs schools, defined as having a high percentage of students living in poverty and/or having a high percentage of non-native language speakers, have not been able to sustain the significant levels of involvement that lead to higher achievement. The purpose of this study was to examine the leadership qualities exhibited in a high-needs urban elementary school that had actively involved parents and was experiencing success with regards to student achievement on state-mandated standardized tests. The elementary school examined had an active parent center as well as a high number of students living in poverty. Furthermore, over half of the population was categorized as coming from non-English speaking families. A case study methodology was employed in order to understand the leadership qualities and practices of the principal, assistant principals, teachers, and parent center coordinators that lead to high levels of parental involvement. An understanding of the leadership qualities and their strategies that promoted social justice was gained through the analysis of semi-structured interviews, which were conducted with these leaders and select school personnel. The knowledge and understanding gained in this study provided insight into what attributes and qualities are possessed by school leaders that effectively involve parents and students in the quest to promote student personal growth and academic achievement.