The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Collective Actions and Beliefs that Impact Equity and Excellence: A District Portraiture of Equity-Focused Leadership

Betty Alford, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (United States)

Liane Hypolite, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (United States)


In public schools in the United States, equity and excellence for students who have historically been marginalized can be strengthened through culturally responsive leadership (Radd, Generett, Gooden, & Theoharis, 2021) and culturally responsive pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 2021). School improvement is also fostered when multiple school leaders demonstrate collective efficacy and commitment to the goals of equity-focused leadership and share the intense belief that they have the knowledge and skills to influence needed changes so that students experience optimum learning environments and experiences (Donohoo, 2017). School policies for equity and excellence can contribute to more culturally responsive actions; however, leadership is necessary for the policies to result in positive actions (Gurr, Drysdale, Longmuir, & McCrohan, 2019; Shields, 2017). This qualitative study included interviews with eight educational leaders who were instrumental in working to achieve their district policy of strengthening the equity focus of the district. The research question was: What are the key elements that assisted in strengthening and sustaining the work toward equity and excellence in student learning in a district serving a diverse student body? The transcribed interview data were analyzed to discern common themes (Saldana, 2021). The key elements included a district-wide approach to achieving change; targeted and sustained professional development through networks; collaborative decision making fostered at multiple levels; value-based hiring and leadership; curriculum reform for culturally responsive instruction, and a willingness to hear and respond to student voice. In this time-period of racial strife, polarization, and turmoil in the United States, this study’s findings are significant in that the illumination of the actions and beliefs of equity focused leaders in the school serve as examples of actions that can be taken to transform schools into positive learning spaces for all.



Culturally responsive leadership, equity and excellence, equity-focused educational leadership



  1. Donoho, J. M. (2017). Collective efficacy: How educators’ beliefs impact             student learning. Corwin.
  2. Gurr, D., Drysdale, I., Longmuir, F., & McCrohan, K. (2019). Successful             school leadership that is culturally sensitive but not context             constrained. In E. Murakami, D. Gurr, & R. Notman (Eds.)             Educational Leadership, Culture, and Success in High-need             Schools. (pp. 25-44). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
  3. Ladson-Billings, G. (2021). Culturally relevant pedagogy: Asking a different             question. Teachers College Press.
  4. Radd, Generett, Gooden, & Theoharis, (2021). Five practices for equity-            focused school leadership. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
  5. Saldana, J. (2021.) (4th ed.). The coding manual for qualitative research.             SAGE.
  6. Shields, C.M. (2017. (2nd ed.).Transformative leadership in education:             Equitable and socially just change in an uncertain and complex             world. Routledge.


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