Date of Award

Spring 1-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Stephen Gould

Second Advisor

Dr. Brenda Matthis

Third Advisor

Dr. Rodney Trice


Policies typically hold schools accountable for student learning by isolating student groups within the school population to monitor academic achievement. Responsibility for ensuring academic growth and learning for all students often falls heavily upon the K-12 public school principal. This study investigated K-12 school principals’ beliefs, prioritization, and execution of research-based strategies meant to increase Black student achievement as well as their efforts to implement these strategies, including factors and conditions promoting or inhibiting implementation. Three guiding questions informed this study: (1) To what degree do principals believe leading efforts to improve Black student achievement is a priority? (2) What are the ways K-12 school principals of low-performing schools report they lead efforts to increase student achievement? (3) What are the factors and conditions in low-performing schools that K-12 principals say inhibit and promote their efforts to increase achievement for the Black student population? Using a sequential explanatory method, quantitative data were collected from 12 principals through a questionnaire, with five of those principals providing qualitative data in separate follow-up interviews. The study’s 10 findings identified principals’ core beliefs regarding teaching and learning in their contextualized environments. Recommendations included using all data points available to identify the needs of the school, employing culturally relevant strategies to support Black student achievement, and building the capacity of teachers and staff to embark on and engage in cycles of improvement.



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