Walking the "Talk"?: The Connections Between a Culturally Responsive School Leader's Beliefs and Actions and Opportunity Gaps for Latinx Students
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between (a) beliefs and actions of a culturally responsive school leader and (b) opportunity gaps for Latinx students in a predominantly Latinx school. The study was conducted at a Title I suburban elementary school in the Southeastern Region of Texas. Using a qualitative case study approach and guided by Khalifa, Gooden, and Davis’ (2016) Culturally Responsive Leadership Framework, the study data were acquired through remote semi-structured interviews of 10 participants (including school leaders, teachers, and parents), remote observations, and archival data analysis. Findings from this study indicated the beliefs and actions of the school leader reflected values of equity, inclusion, critical self-reflection, continuous learning, challenging the status quo, building capacity, and purposeful data disaggregation. Generally, findings related to opportunity gaps in academic achievement for Latinx students were inconclusive. The findings showed movement toward a more proportional representation of Latinx students enrolled in special programs (i.e., special education, gifted and talented), and a comparative decrease in documented disciplinary ISS (in-school suspension) placements. Overall, documentation of the principal’s journey to address inequities and opportunity gaps for Latinx students suggested she was evolving, or in the process of “becoming” a culturally responsive school leader and beginning to make a difference on her campus. Additional findings highlighted barriers to CRSL (Culturally Responsive School Leadership) at the school, district, and state levels. These findings indicate the need for structured leadership preparation programs developed through a social justice and equity lens, implementation of leadership practices focused on critical self-reflection, and professional development directed at culturally responsive practices. Findings additionally demonstrate a need for education reform including a call to revamp standardized assessments, along with development of policies on implementation of culturally responsive and trauma-informed educator leadership training.