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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Dennis Brennan

First Committee Member

Antonio Serna

Second Committee Member

Bea Lingenfelter

Third Committee Member

Mary Jones


The academic achievement gap in the State of California has been a persistent problem. In California the achievement gap is defined as the disparity between the academic performance of white students and other ethnic groups as well as that between English learners and native English speakers, socioeconomically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities as compared with students without disabilities (CDE, P-16, 2008, p. 11). Jack O'Connel, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, has identified closing the achievement gap as one of the primary goals for the State of California. Research has consistently shown that children of color and children of poverty have not experienced the academic success of their white peers. Utilizing the meta-analysis of research data from Mid-continent Research for Educational Learning (McREL), this study is a quantitative review of the 21 Leadership Responsibilities and Best Practices identified by school leaders from Ceres Unified School District, more specifically, from leaders in nine high-achieving schools within the district. The nine identified schools and leaders have experienced academic success with children of color and children of poverty based on their Academic Performance Index Similar Schools Rankings. In the study, two levels of surveys were conducted. The first survey reviewed the leadership responsibilities identified by McREL and asked the study participants to rank the leadership responsibilities based on the responsibilities that they perceive to have the most significant impact on student academic achievement. Employing the results of the first survey, a second survey utilized the top five leadership responsibilities identified by the study participants. Under the umbrella of the top five responsibilities, five best practices were listed and again ranked by the participants based on their perceptions of the leadership practices that have the greatest effect on increasing student achievement. The results of this survey identified the best practices perceived by leaders of high-achieving, high poverty schools. Additionally, a questionnaire was completed by the participants to provide additional demographic data. The study results support the findings that best pedagogical practices are complimented by effective leadership. Effective leaders and leadership practices do have a positive effect on student academic achievement.





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