Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs


Connie Yaqub

Publication Date



The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine principals perceptions of their responsibilities for English language learners (ELLs) and their beliefs about what contributes to these students' academic success. The growing population of ELLs in the US face increased risk for underachievement, as recorded by traditional measures, yet little research investigates the critical role of the principal in the education of ELLs. This study focuses on 7 principals (nominated by other educators as exemplary) in public schools with high enrollments of ELLs found in rural, suburban, and urban districts in a northeastern state. Data came from individual open-ended initial interviews and member-checking interviews. Thematic analysis of the data revealed 5 themes: (a) Student Progress, (b) Fostering Relationships, (c) Parents and Community, (d) Having 'The Right People,' and (e) Language Development. These themes describe the research participants' self-reported responsibilities for ELLs and their perceptions of what contributes to ELLs' academic success. Twenty-two subthemes were identified, called Key Administrative Practices (KAPs). These KAPs are the ways in which the participants reported carrying out their responsibilities, i.e., their practices. The responsibility Fostering Relationships, with the following KAPs: (a) building comfort, respect, trust, and a sense of belonging; (b) motivating students and demonstrating care and compassion; (c) understanding and accepting differences; and (d) dealing with the closed-mindedness and lack of understanding of staff members, appears to be a contribution to the literature. The study contains a review of the literature in second language acquisition (SLA); in English language development (ELD) programs; in educational leadership in general; in inclusive educational leadership for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students; and in educational leadership for ELLs. This project compares the research findings with leadership frameworks from Waters, Marzano, and McNulty (2003), Riehl (2000), and Hamayan and Freeman (2006). It also discusses implications for principal preparation and practice and provides suggestions for further research. Keywords: English language learners, principals, educational leadership, responsibilities, key administrative practices, inclusion, balanced leadership, CLD, ELD, ELLs, ESL, KAPs, SLA'


English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers -- Administration, School principals -- Attitudes, Educational leadership -- Case studies

Document Type




Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Celedon-Pattichis, Sylvia

Second Committee Member

Zancanella, Don

Third Committee Member