Deconstructing the deficit-thinking paradigm in district and campus level leadership to close the achievement gap
MetadataShow full item record
District and campus leaders face enormous challenges as they try to address the ever-widening achievement gap. With increased accountability, the achievement gap-- which exists between students of color and students of poverty and their White, middleclass counterparts--is becoming impossible to ignore. Nationally, demographics are shifting toward a society of color and school campuses are following suit. Students are not getting easier to educate. Yet while schools across the nation bemoan their student populations as 'hard to educate,' there are some notable districts consistently having success with these student populations. However, there is almost no research on these schools. Their successes are nearly unknown to the educational world. Therefore, this study sought to examine the practices utilized on these campuses and the role of district and campus leadership in guiding the teachers of these student populations. The theoretical framework was the deficit-thinking paradigm and the Effective Schools Correlates. The study investigated schools that (1) earned high ratings in their state accountability system (2) named Blue Ribbon Schools and (3) were Title I award winning schools because they had gone from low performing schools with few systems in place to high performing schools with many systems in place. The study focused on the Area Superintendent of Area 10 and two elementary principals. This study was a mix method qualitative and quantitative study that involved only one urban school district: Martin Luther King Independent School District, one of the fifteen largest districts in the southwest part of the United States. This was a case study, which is an intensive description and analysis of a phenomenon or social unit such as an individual, group, institution, or community. The case is a bounded, integrated system (Stake, 1995; Merriam, 1998). Data collection included interviews, observations, and a reflective journal. Findings revealed that there are six prongs these schools had in common to go from low performing to high performing schools as well as earn distinction and awards. Acquiring these six prongs is called Creating a Culture of Success for Students of Color and Students of Poverty. There are also six conditions that permeate low performing schools; these schools once had these conditions on their campuses, but overcame them to become high performing. These conditions are called the Labyrinth of Solitude for Students of Color and Students of Poverty. As school districts and schools attempt to create a culture of accountability where high expectations and a sense of urgency prevail--conditions necessary to close the achievement gap and move from the deficit-thinking paradigm and its deleterious impact on achievement toward the Normed-Opportunity Paradigm--universities and school districts can use this research data to help superintendents, central office personnel, campus principals, teachers, as well as prospective teachers and administrators to move schools and school districts forward and help close the achievement gap.