Leading to college : high school principals and English learners' college readiness




Razavi-Maleki, Bita

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Research on education of English learner (EL) students, through the lens of involvement of high school principals in equity and social justice, is growing but limited. The purpose of my study was to examine how high school leaders (principals, assistant principals and associate principals) prioritize college readiness for ELs and how they make sense of their priorities. These research questions guided my study: (1) What do high school principals know about college readiness policies for all students and particularly for ELs? (2) What are high school principals’ priorities for ELs regarding college readiness? And how do high school principals make sense of these priorities for ELs? This study also offers a review of literature on the role of principals in shaping educational experiences of students as well as a brief history of policies related to education of ELs. The findings to the first research question describe high school principals’ involvement in shaping school culture regarding college readiness, especially college readiness for ELs. High school principals provide broad supervision of college readiness components being implemented on their campuses, but they are not involved with specific implementation plans. They typically have a hands-off approach to creating programs for college readiness for students, both EL and non-EL. The second research question findigs showed that principals’ priority for their EL student population is English language fluency. Principals had various reasons for why English language proficiency is their priority, but they all viewed it as a stepping-stone to access to future opportunities for students. They expressed concerns about prioritizing other goals for ELs when English language fluency is the gatekeeper for other opportunities. The findings of this study highlight the need for additional research on the role of school leadership in policy implementation as well as the need for further investigation of educational policies and allowing flexibility for interpretation in light of specific needs of local contexts of schools. This manuscript concludes with implications and recommendations for theory, policy, practice, and future research.


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