Factors that influence the achievement of economically disadvantaged students in a large, urban Texas school district: a critical race analysis of equitable academic success
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The academic performance of economically disadvantaged students continues to be one of the greatest challenges faced by educational leaders and policymakers. While previous reform efforts have brought to the surface the extent of the problem with initiatives that have proven some level of success, wide-spread, enduring academic success among economically disadvantaged students continues to elude most public schools. Johnson (2002) asserts "changing content and performance standards without viii fundamentally transforming educators' practices, processes, and relationships cannot lead to success". Thus, efforts aimed at eliminating performance gaps and cultivating a culture of equitable academic success requires meaningful, thoughtful educational discourse surrounding belief/value principles, practices, leadership structures, and micro-political frameworks that continue to perpetuate conditions of underachievement among economically disadvantaged students. Research Questions: (1) What factors facilitate and impede the achievement of economically disadvantaged students? (2) What are the acts of leadership necessary to producing a high-performing economically disadvantaged student population? (3) How do factors that influence relate to acts of leadership? (4) How does the Superintendent's view compare to the secondary teachers' perception as it relates to the factors that influence and the acts of leadership? Because of its' ability to capture in-depth experiences of the participants (Patton, 2002), the methodology used will be a qualitative case study design employing Interactive Qualitative Analysis (IQA). IQA is a systems approach to qualitative research that identifies relationships among self-identified components of an issue (Northcutt & McCoy, 2004). Data sources include 15-20 secondary teachers in Northside ISD in San Antonio, Texas who have proven success with economically disadvantaged students and the district's Superintendent. Employing the IQA methodology, the teachers will participate in two focus groups. The participants and superintendent will be individually interviewed on the data produced during the focus group activities. ix This study may broaden the repertoire of explanations as to why economically disadvantaged students continue elude high-performing status. The data can be utilized as a needs assessment tool in strategic-planning and implementation of change. The implications may contribute to scholarship on reform efforts, specifically as it relates to practices, beliefs and educational leadership in the areas of critical race thought, deficitthinking, and micro-politics.