26 SES 13 C, Training, Roles and Practices of School Principals
The United States’ 2016 Presidential Election and Brexit were events symbolic of a polarized world. With immigration and the refugee crisis as two of the most disputed topics, world leaders grapple with a divided electorate and mass protests on both sides of the issues. These events show how politics serves as both a reflection of and a response to global unrest. As educators, leaders, and researchers, our role is to promote inclusivity and reject exclusion based on national origin, ethnicity, race, religion, and other cultural distinctions. With tens of thousands of refugees and immigrants settling in places like the United States (Ciluffo & Cohn, 2017), Greece, and Germany demographic diversity continues to increase (Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe, 2017). Educators increasingly question how best to educate the children who are minorities in the nations in which they live, whether they are first generation Syrians in Greece or third generation Mexicans in the United States. Furthermore, a multicultural, pluralistic society should not only accept but embrace all children, aspire to give them the best education possible, and ensure a legacy of inclusivity not divisiveness. To achieve these goals, we need educational leaders who challenge the status quo and change with changing times. Therefore, school leadership preparation program must also prepare leaders for a changed and changing world. School leaders are obligated by to resist neutrality (Freire, 1970).
The educational system then, is responsible for preparing school leaders who will lead in a world where student populations are increasingly more diverse, especially in the United States (Bryant, Triplett, Nicholas, Watson, & Lewis, 2017; Goddard, 2010) and Europe (Culture Statistics, 2016; Keating & Benton, 2013). It becomes incumbent upon school leaders to serve as social justice activists in order to ensure equitable education for all students (Barakat, 2014; Theoharis, 2007). A founding principle in school leader preparation is based on being culturally responsive (Gay, 2000; Brooks, Jean-Marie, Normore, & Hodgins, 2007), possessing both the knowledge and skills necessary to create a multicultural and socially just school environment (Sue, 2001; Furman, 2012; Gerstl-Pepin & Aiken, 2012). Leadership preparation should facilitate reflective processes that challenge personal mental models, stereotypes, and biases (Barakat, Reames, & Kensler, 2012) and then should be reinforced by “long term consistent effort, towards the development of diversity, cultural competence, and social justice” (Barakat, 2014, p.27). Cultural competence is the set of knowledge, beliefs, practices, and motivations that enable individuals to function successfully with people from different cultural backgrounds, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical or mental ability, age, and national origin (Sue, 2001; Kohli, Kohli, Huber, and Faul, 2009).
The purpose of this quantitative study is to determine the impact of a principal preparation program on the development of participants’ cultural competence along a continuum (Campbell Jones, Campbell Jones, and Lindsey, 2010). The research question is: What impact does a principal preparation program centered on social justice have on the development of students’ cultural competence?
A quantitative causal comparative research design (Wiersma & Jurs, 2009) with an instrument for pre-testing and post-testing was used to assess the impact of programmatic experiences on the cultural competence of graduates of an educational leadership program. The Cultural Competence of Educational Leaders (CCEL) questionnaire developed by Barakat (2014) was the instrument used for this study. The CCEL applied a psychological framework for cultural competence that delineated four dimensions of cultural competence: attitudes and beliefs, knowledge, skills, and motivation (Sue, 2001). These dimensions provided the basis for instrument construction. Basing items on extant literature and previously developed instruments (Bustamante, Nelson, and Onwuegbuzie, 2009; Sirin, Rogers-Sirin, & Collins; 2010) helped ensure construct validity. Expert and non-expert reviews were used to ensure content validity (Pietersen and Maree, 2007), and the reviews resulted in deletion of ten items and revision of four items. A pilot study was conducted to test the instrument for reliability using Cronbach’s alpha (Pietersen and Maree, 2007). Exploratory factor analysis loaded three factors: beliefs and motivations and, skills. The instrument contains 23 Likert-scale items and one open-ended question. The open-ended question provided rich data for qualitative analysis that informed quantitative analysis. . The online survey was distributed via email with an anonymous Qualtrics link. Participants were 21 graduate students enrolled in an educational leadership program and employed as teachers in the same large, urban public school district. The program -- offered at a large, public university -- is a principal preparation program centered on social justice leadership. The participants, the university, and the local population of the study are culturally diverse. Because human participants are involved, IRB approval was obtained prior to data collection. Once students complete the post-test survey, a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) will be conducted to test the significance of differences between the pre-test and post-test. The open-ended question responses will be analyzed using several phases of coding and researcher triangulation (Saldana, 2009). Themes based upon codes will be established, and themes from the pre-test will be compared to themes from the post-test. A major limitation of the study is the small n of 21. A limitation of any survey research, including this study, is that participants may self-report socially desirable responses rather than factual responses.
The principal preparation program centered on social justice leadership draws explicitly upon issues of social justice and multicultural education for the assignments and activities in which students engage. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the results of the MANOVA will indicate a significant development in cultural competency from the outset of the principal preparation program to graduation. At this stage in the research, participants have taken the pre-test and recently completed the program. The post-test has been distributed and participants have begun to respond. Based upon participant responses to the Likert-scale items, participants generally perceive themselves to be culturally competent. For instance, 87% perceived themselves to be knowledgeable or very knowledgeable “In regards to cultural and social norms of students under [their] care” (CCEL Item 1). However, when asked whether “Students who belong to historically marginalized minorities are still subjected to injustice in the American public education system” (CCEL Item 4), 39% indicated disagree or strongly disagree. Preliminary analysis appears to indicate a contradiction in responses. Preliminary data analysis of the open-ended question on the pre-test indicates that participants perceive the experiences that have had the greatest impact on their cultural competence to include exposure to students of diverse cultural backgrounds, formal learning experiences, personal relationships, international travel, and multicultural identity. Based upon the cultural proficiency continuum developed by Campbell Jones et al (2010), participants may be unaware of what they do not know about cultural diversity. Post-test data will enable analysis of participants’ growth along the continuum. This study’s findings could inform the development of student’ self-awareness and might have implications for course curriculum design to promote cultural competence for this program and for other programs with similar context.
Barakat, M. (2014). Preparing Culturally Competent Educational Leadership. (Doctoral Dissertation, Auburn Univeristy, 2014). Retrieved January 1, 2018 from https://etd. Auburn.edu/bitstream/handle/10415/4210/Maysaa%20Barakat_All%20Dissertation_ Final-rv_D.pdf;sequence=2. Barakat, M., Reames, E. & Kensler, L. (in press). Leadership Preparation Programs: Preparing Culturally Competent Educational Leaders. Journal of Research on Leadership Education. Brooks, J. S., Jean-Marie, G., Normore, A. H., & Hodgins, D. W. (2007). Distributed leadership for social justice: Exploring how influence and equity are stretched over an urban high school. Journal of School Leadership, 17, 378–408. Bryant, A. C., Triplett, N. P., Watson, M. J., & Lewis, C. W. (2017). The Browning of American Public Schools: Evidence of Increasing Racial Diversity and the Implications for Policy, Practice, and Student Outcomes. Urban Review: Issues And Ideas In Public Education, 49(2), 263-278. Bustamante, R. M., Nelson, J. A., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2009). Assessing school-wide cultural competence: Implications for school leadership preparation. Educational Administration Quarterly, 45(5), 793. Campbell Jones, F., Campbell Jones, B., & Lindsey, R. (2010). The cultural proficiency journey moving beyond ethical barriers toward profound school change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder. Furman, G. (2012). Social justice leadership as praxis: Developing capacities through preparation programs. Administration Quarterly, 48(2), 191–229. Gay, G. (2000). Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press. Gerstl-Pepin, C. & Aiken, J. A. (2012). Social Justice leadership for a global world. Charlotte, NC:Information Age Publishing. Goddard. (2010). Toward glocality: Facilitating leadership in an age if diversity. Journal of School Leadership, 20(1), 37-56/ Kohli, H. K., Kohli, A. S., Huber, R., & Faul, A. C. (2009). Assessing cultural competence in graduating students. International Journal of Progressive Education, 6(1), 6–27. Pietersen, J., & Maree, K. (2007). The quantitative research process. First steps in research. Pretoria: van Schaik, pp. 144-153. Saldana, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative research. Sirin, S. R., Rogers-Sirin, L., & Collins, B. A. (2010). A measure of cultural competence as an ethical responsibility: Quick-racial and ethical sensitivity test. Journal of Moral Education, 39(1), 49–64. Sue, D. (2001). Multidimensional facets of cultural competence. The Counseling Psychologist, 29(6), 790–821. Theoharis, G. (2007). Social justice educational leaders and resistance: Toward a theory of social justice leadership. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43(2), 221–258. Wiersma, W., & Jurs, S. G. (2009). Research methods in education (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
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