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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Penny Larsen
Doctor of Education
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: Making the Difference in High School Poverty: Selected Principals Perspectives from High- achieving Urban Elementary Schools
Dr. Van Cooley, Chair
Dr. Walter Burt
Dr. Mark Jenness
Date: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
3208 Sangren Hall
This study is a mixed method design focusing on 10 white and 10 non-white urban elementary principals. The qualitative methodology uses interviews and observations to examine how principals conceptualize the student achievement gaps and through what practices do they attempt to remedy the condition. The quantitative data resulted from the Quick Discrimination Index relied on descriptive statistics. The primary audience for this study includes PK-12 public school administrators, particularly those in urban high-diversity; high achieving schools.
The investigation (1) examined cultural differences between white and non-white administrators and their student constituency in terms of ethnicity, language use, and (2) socioeconomic status, as well as the (3) present climate of academic accountability for all student groups and emphasized and (4) importance of understanding the interaction of these dimensions of school leadership and the academic outcomes of all students.
Emerging themes were established by a 70% repetition response rate. Collective themes included: district diversity training, community involvement, literacy, curriculum alignment, team building, role of data and setting high student expectations. White administrators focused on the role of data, best practices and curriculum alignment. Non-white administrators centered on relationship building, community involvement and literacy.