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Influencing Leadership to Enact Culturally Responsive Practices in Gifted Education

Mon, April 16, 12:25 to 1:55pm, Sheraton New York Times Square, Second Floor, Central Park East Room

Abstract

Purposes: The purpose of this three-year project was to understand what factors influence the identification of racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse gifted students in rural contexts. Specifically, researchers sought to understand the following question: What are leaders’ cultural competency skills that may act as barriers to the identification of every gifted learner? This Jacob K. Javits funded initiative has shown promise in increasing leadership attitudes on gifted identification of students of underrepresented historically marginalized populations in rural, remote areas of a western state. By designing and facilitating teacher professional learning, leadership training, and individualized local plans, this project has improved culturally responsive leadership.
Theoretical Framework: Widespread underrepresentation of minority students in gifted programs persists (Olszewski-Kubilius & Lee, 2011; Ford, 2003). This participating western state mirrors issues underrepresentation, particularly in remote, rural areas (NCES, 2014). By developing and implementing training in culturally responsive leadership, researchers hope to improve on this problem of practice and create positive organizational change.
Methods and data sources: A mixed methods approach was used to conduct this study. Participants included teachers, principals, district gifted coordinators, superintendents, and BOCES executive directors from 25 schools in remote, rural areas of a western state. Quantitative data included a survey developed by the researchers to measure leadership attitude. Surveys were developed for each leadership role and were administered as a baseline measurement and at the end of year two. Qualitative data included baseline interviews and two webinar analyses.
Results: Independent sample t-tests helped determine change in baseline and mid-point leadership attitudes. It was hypothesized to find a decrease in total score, as lower scores indicated more agreement to the survey questions. All four groups showed lower scores at the mid-point; however, results showed only significant differences (p< .05) for teachers at baseline (M= 97.98, SD= 10.80) to mid-point (M= 91.69, SD= 11.84; t(94)= 2.66, p= .009) and for principals at baseline (M= 70.47, SD= 8.00) to mid-point (M= 61.33, SD= 14.62; t(25)= 2.08, p= .037). There were no significant changes for gifted coordinators and superintendents.
Qualitative analyses of both webinar and baseline interviews reported attitudes of school leaders. Overarching themes of baseline interviews included strengths related to Sense of Community and Sense of Identity and Cultural Norms. Opportunity themes from baseline interviews included Sense of Readiness for Change/Improvement, Need for Gifted Identification Process Improvements, and Need for Collaboration. Webinar One yielded participant themes of Gifted Identification Process Needs, School Needs, and Clarity of Study Purpose, while Webinar Two showed a shift with overarching themes including Recognition of Giftedness Through Broader Measures, Acknowledging the Need for Cultural Competence, Addressing Needs, and Recognizing Barriers.
Scholarly Significance: Results of this mid-point study, analyzed at year two end, showed both qualitative and quantitative evidence of an increase in culturally responsive leadership. Year three activities include on-going leadership training, technical support in using improvement science and design thinking tools, and community-based communications to build an organizational culture focused on sustainable improvement for every student.

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