Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Maria de Lourdes B. Serpa

Second Advisor

Claudia Rinaldi

Third Advisor

Nadene Stein


The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the cultural proficiency of school leaders in addressing the needs of English learners (ELs) and their families at a public, urban, grades 9 through 12 high school in Massachusetts, a Level 3 school in a Level 3 district with an achievement gap for ELs. The ELs and their families represented one-fourth of the high school’s student population; the school was located in a linguistically and culturally diverse community. The participants for this study were the 16 educational leaders of this high school. Three research questions guided this study: (a) To what degree do school leaders in an urban high school address the cultural and linguistic needs of ELs and their families?, (2) How are school leaders in one urban high school exhibiting culturally and linguistically proficient practices in their school community with respect to ELs and their families?, and (3) What professional preparation have leaders at this high school received tin cultural proficiency to address the current needs of ELs and their families? This research was based on the theoretical model of the cultural proficiency continuum (Lindsey, Roberts, & CampbellJones, 2013). Data were collected in three ways: through a survey, individual follow-up interviews, and direct observation. Findings revealed that the school leaders were not yet addressing the cultural and linguistic needs of families of ELs; did not yet use culturally and linguistically proficient practices; and had not yet experienced professional development that could translate into appropriate practice.Recommendations include changing school policy, addressing the achievement gap of ELs, building relationships with EL families, providing opportunities for research-based professional development, and enabling school leaders to become culturally proficient and responsive to all students and families in the school community.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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