Elementary Assistant Principals' Self-Perceived Preparedness to Lead Diverse Schools through the Lens of the Culturally Responsive School Leadership Framework
Shifting demographics in the U.S. population, persistent disparities in achievement, and student discipline call for school leaders who are culturally responsive to the diversity present in their schools and communities (Brown, 2005; deBrey et al., 2019; Khalifa et al., 2016a). A review of the literature revealed that researchers maintain the position of assistant principal plays a crucial role in moving forward to the principalship and that this position should be leveraged as an embedded opportunity to learn, which can more effectively prepare leaders for the future role of principal amidst changing school demographics (Oleszewski et al., 2012). Without culturally responsive school leaders and school environments, oppressive systems will continue to thrive in our schools, creating a sense of urgency to carefully explore and understand the ideology of cultural responsiveness concerning school leadership (Khalifa et al., 2016). Culturally responsive leadership practices and behaviors have been noted as "one of the most recent extensions of the research regarding how to meet the needs of culturally diverse learners" (Kranzlein, 2019, p. 22). These practices and behaviors create inclusive school environments responsive to all students' needs (Harris, 2020; Hollowell, 2019; Khalifa et al., 2016a).
The purpose of this study was to investigate elementary assistant principals' perceptions of their preparedness to lead in diverse school settings through the lens of the culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL) framework. Additionally, this study sought to identify specific professional development assistant principals perceived they needed to lead diverse schools and determine which components of the CRSL framework assistant principals currently utilize in their leadership practice. This quantitative study sample included 26 elementary assistant principals from a suburban PK-12 school division in Central Virginia. The research questions guiding this study were as follows: (1) To what extent do assistant principals perceive they are prepared to lead in diverse school settings? (2) What components of the CRSL framework do assistant principals currently utilize in their leadership practice? (3) What are self-reported professional development needs for assistant principals to lead in diverse schools? The research method included a researcher-developed survey titled the Self-Perceived Culturally Responsive School Leadership Preparedness Survey aligned to the CRSL framework created by Khalifa et al. (2016b). The survey instrument consisted of 17 items: one demographic question, 15 Likert-scale questions, and one open-ended question. The researcher used quantitative methodology techniques to analyze the data, including descriptive statistics.
This study offers awareness into the perceptions of assistant principals' preparedness to lead in diverse school settings, identifies CRSL practices utilized by assistant principals, and identifies professional development needs to prepare assistant principals to lead in diverse schools. Results indicated that assistant principals perceive they are prepared to lead in diverse school settings as the building principal and that their duties and responsibilities have prepared them. Additionally, assistant principals indicated a need for professional growth opportunities focused on supporting the development of culturally responsive teachers in their schools and engaging students, parents, and Indigenous contexts.