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Leading for Equity: Elementary Principals in Pursuit of Excellence for All Students


The purpose of this study is to understand how three elementary principals in Sequoia Unified School District (SUSD) enact equity-centered instructional leadership in service of increased learning outcomes for its most vulnerable students. Specifically, this study examines how these principals employ leadership content knowledge, skills and dispositions to create learning conditions for all students to thrive. Investigation of how three SUSD principals define and enact equity-centered instructional leadership will shed light on what equity-centered instructional leadership looks like in practice and the types of challenges elementary principals may encounter.

The methodology used to conduct this three-month study was a cross case study analysis of three elementary principals in SUSD. Principal interviews, professional development observations, teacher focus group interviews and document analysis represented data collection methods employed to understand equity-centered instructional leadership.

Findings from in-depth principal and teacher focus group interviews elucidate the importance of SUSD elementary principals developing a critical consciousness lens, political leadership skills, and technical expertise, grounded in instructional and transformational leadership research, to enact equity-centered instructional leadership. Challenges encountered by the elementary principals suggest that the combination of leadership knowledge, skills and dispositions are required for SUSD elementary principals to transform their school environment into an inclusive space to promote quality teaching and learning for all students.

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