Citation
In pursuit of equity : messages and ideologies in academic strategic plans

Material Information

Title:
In pursuit of equity : messages and ideologies in academic strategic plans
Creator:
Ream, Jennifer Fleming
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Doctorate ( Doctor of philosophy)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Education and Human Development
Degree Disciplines:
Education and human development
Committee Chair:
Commins, Nancy
Committee Members:
Nathenson-Mejia, Sally
Viesca, Kara Mitchell
Boelé, Amy

Notes

Abstract:
This qualitative research applied Ethnographic Content Analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013) to explore messages, ideologies, and frames that underlie Academic Strategic Plan documents and interviews with personnel in two school districts serving large populations of multilingual learners. Analysis involved applying a critical sociocultural theoretical lens in order to understand how document and interview findings from these two districts align or don’t with the last 10 years of research on successful schooling for multilingual learners. Conclusions were drawn on findings from 1) the theoretical underpinnings of the plans, and 2) the perspectives of people specifically focused on supporting the multilingual learner population in their district, and 3) the content and framing found in the literature about practices that best serve multilingual learners. The components of a re-imagined Academic Strategic Plan are discussed as a potential path forward, and recommendations are made for practical next steps districts can immediately take.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
Copyright Jennifer Fleming Ream. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text
IN PURSUIT OF EQUITY: MESSAGES AND IDEOLOGIES
IN ACADEMIC STRATEGIC PLANS by
JENNIFER FLEMING REAM B.A., Mount Holyoke College, 1992 M.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2001
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Education and Human Development Program
2019


©2019
JENNIFER FLEMING REAM ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
11


iii


This dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Jennifer Fleming Ream has been approved for Education and Human Development by
Nancy Commins, Chair Sally Nathenson-Mejia, Advisor Kara Mitchell Viesca Amy Boele
Date: May 18, 2019
IV


Ream, Jennifer (Ph.D., School of Education and Human Development)
In Pursuit of Equity: Messages and Ideologies in Academic Strategic Plans Dissertation directed by Associate Professor Sally Nathenson-Mejia
ABSTRACT
This qualitative research applied Ethnographic Content Analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013) to explore messages, ideologies, and frames that underlie Academic Strategic Plan documents and interviews with personnel in two school districts serving large populations of multilingual learners. Analysis involved applying a critical sociocultural theoretical lens in order to understand how document and interview findings from these two districts align or don’t with the last 10 years of research on successful schooling for multilingual learners. Conclusions were drawn on findings from 1) the theoretical underpinnings of the plans, and 2) the perspectives of people specifically focused on supporting the multilingual learner population in their district, and 3) the content and framing found in the literature about practices that best serve multilingual learners. The components of a re-imagined Academic Strategic Plan are discussed as a potential path forward, and recommendations are made for practical next steps districts can immediately take.
Keywords: Academic Strategic Plan, equity, English learners, multilingual learners, ideology,
ethnographic content analysis,
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Sally Nathenson-Mejia


DEDICATION
To my mother, Mary Agnes Fleming, for always believing in me- including unlimited faith in my non-traditional path. Your dedication to making a difference, like throwing back starfish on the beach, has always and continues to inspire me to pause and listen each day, to challenge assumptions and bias, to consider responsive approaches and do all I can to make life for children, families, and educators in school more positive and productive experiences.
To my father, William Lawrence Fleming, for both your high expectations and your unconditional acceptance of who I am. Your dedication to providing opportunity (at times in spite of myself- 2 hours on the back roads of Massachusetts) was pivotal to my growth into who I am and who I will continue to become.
To my siblings, Chris and Cathy for your unconditional love and support throughout this life journey we travel together.
To my husband Alan, the rock to my rushing stream. Your love, honor, and appreciation for who I have come here to be, and unwavering support for the years of exploration and adventure that has led to this us, to this me... for the things that endear you to me, you know I always will.
And to my children: Araceli, Aidan, and Ava. You inspire me every day and give me reason to continue learning and committing to combating injustice and promoting peace. For you I am committed to doing all I can to make the world you inherit the better world that you, your generation, and future generations deserve.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Many thanks to my esteemed advisor Dr. Sally Nathenson-Mejia. Without your absolute confidence, unwavering encouragement, and unlimited support throughout the entire doctoral journey, this dissertation would not have been completed.
Thanks also to my brilliant committee members Dr. Kara Viesca and Dr. Amy Boele for your wisdom and insight that helped me deepen my application of theory in order to better analyze and understand my findings, and for not letting me stop until I was able to envision new possibilities.
Special thanks to Dr. Nancy Commins for helping me to push through to more deeply believe in myself and be brave. It took a lot for this committed practitioner dedicated to make change from within schools to embody the practices and voice of the scholar I have worked so hard to become. From my very first MA class to this doctorate, your mentorship and support has
meant the world to me.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION.................................................................1
Background.................................................................1
Statement of the Problem...................................................2
Rationale and Purpose for the Study........................................4
Research Questions.........................................................5
Rationale for the Analysis Methodology.....................................5
Significance of the Study..................................................6
Definition of Terms........................................................7
General Terminology.....................................................7
Organization of the Study..................................................8
II. LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................... 10
Strategic Planning for Systemic School Improvement........................10
Why Critical Sociocultural Theory.........................................11
Theoretical Framework.....................................................12
Critical Sociocultural Theory..........................................12
Critical Social Theory in Education....................................14
Sociocultural Theory of Learning.......................................15
Successful Schooling for Multilingual Learners............................17
English Language Development...........................................18
Integrated Content and Language Practices..............................20
i


Effective Pedagogy for Multilingual Learners
23
Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Approaches and a Critical Stance..23
Summary..................................................................24
III. METHODOLOGY..................................................................0
Overview..................................................................0
Research Questions........................................................1
Research Methodology......................................................2
Research Design...........................................................4
Data Collection........................................................5
Data Analysis.............................................................8
Document Analysis......................................................8
Interview Analysis....................................................10
Analysis of Messages and Ideologies- Documents and Interviews.........11
Review of the Literature of Successful Schooling for Multilingual Learners.12
Ethics...................................................................13
Researcher Stance........................................................15
Limitations..............................................................15
Summary of Methodology...................................................16
IV. FINDINGS....................................................................18
Response to Research Question la: Content of Documents...................19
The Purpose and Problem Identified by Academic Strategic Plans........19
More Students Prepared for College, Career, and Community Life........21
Operationalizing Gap-Closing Mandates Through Data Driven Practices...23
ii


What ASP Documents Say About People Across the Organization.................29
Response to Research Question 2a: Content of Interviews........................34
Participant Perspective on Roles, ASPs and MLL Performance..................34
Challenges and Barriers.....................................................38
Interview Participant Ideas for Moving Forward..............................44
Response to Research Questions lb and 2b: Messages and Ideologies..............45
Technicist Perspective......................................................46
Messages About Schooling Practices and People...............................48
Response to Research Question 3: Comparing Messages and Ideologies with
Literature.....................................................................54
Accountability..............................................................54
All/Every/Each..............................................................55
Excellence..................................................................56
Conclusion..................................................................57
V. DISCUSSION AM) IMPLICATIONS........................................................0
Overview........................................................................0
Implications For School Districts...............................................0
Theory of Action.............................................................2
Critical Stance..............................................................3
Language and Literacy Development/Instructional Conversation.................4
Rigor/Contextualization/Challenging Activities...............................5
Reimagining An Academic Strategic Plan..........................................6
Practical Suggestions- What Districts and Leaders Can Do Now.................8
iii


Conclusion..........................................................9
REFERENCES....................................................................10
APPENDIX
A. Document Analysis Protocol For Academic Strategic Plans................19
B. Sample Summary Table....................................................0
C. Consent Letter For Participants.........................................0
IV


CHAPTERI
INTRODUCTION
Background
Accountability for performance has been growing throughout the public sector and perhaps nowhere more so than in public education. Equity as the primary justification for the clear focus on accountability and the standards, performance targets, assessments, and consequences has become established practice at the federal, state, district, and school levels (McDermott, 2011). This increased emphasis on high-stakes state testing as measure of the success of students (as part of graduation requirements), teachers and school leaders (as part of their performance evaluation), and schools (as part of their school performance evaluation for the state) has resulted in the attribution of significant weight to the scores. Examining disaggregated scores by race, socioeconomic status, and language proficiency spotlights differences in the achievement of students of color, in poverty, and/or English learners in comparison to the scores of their White, middle-to-upper class, monolingual English-speaking peers. This variability in outcome has been identified on a range of measures in addition to test scores, including grade point average, rates of drop out, college enrollment and completion. Eliminating these achievement gaps has become the focus for improvement and reform of schools. The language of achievement gaps typically identifies the source of the performance differences between individuals and groups based on characteristics of the children, their homes, or their communities (Lareau, 2011; Rothstein, 2004; Valencia, 2015). Opportunity gap language refers to the same differences on these various measurements but locates the source of the differences to be based on systemic social inequalities and conditions within schools that result in a lack of resources, and therefore solutions to this problem are located within society and schools (Boykin &
1


Noguera, 2011; Carter & Weiner, 2013; Ladson-Billings, 2006) Based on the idea that success on these measures serves as a gateway to higher education and employment opportunities that support social and economic mobility for disadvantaged populations, achievement and opportunity gap constructs have been widely adopted and serve as the basis for current school improvement and reform efforts. These constructs, however, are problematic, particularly for the multilingual learner population at the center of this study.
Statement of the Problem
Increased attention is being paid again to districts as the central lever of school reform.
As district level reform efforts have been developed and implemented over the past 15 years, districts have been re-positioned to move from a perception of being “a bureaucratic backwater of educational policy to being seen as potent sites and sources of educational reform”
(Hightower, Knapp, Marsh, & McLaughlin, 2002). One current approach to district-level school reform is the development of an Academic Strategic Plan (ASP).
Academic Strategic Plans are documents written towards goals to close academic achievement gaps and prepare all students for success in college and careers. Based on superintendent-led collaborative strategic decision-making (Brazer, Rich, & Ross, 2010; Conley, 1993), ASPs by design provide measurable performance-based criteria, with a clear focus on ends, results, and their consequences, including a value-add focus on effectiveness and efficiency (Kaufman, 2018; Lane, Bishop, & Wilson-Jones, 2013). High-stakes standardized test-based accountability systems required by federal and state law (Franquiz & Ortiz, 2016; Sharp, 2016) are to measure progress towards mandated goals. Academic Strategic Plans are how some districts are organizing their efforts to instill these systems in order to better understand and address significant outcome discrepancy on these measures commonly named achievement
2


and/or opportunity gaps (for examples see Boykin & Noguera, 2011; Carter & Weiner, 2013; Darling-Hammond, 2015; and Howard, 2010).
Academic Strategic Plans state intentions to improve academic outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse students, defined as closing academic achievement gaps and preparing all students to be college and career ready. The initiatives outlined in the Academic Strategic Plans may or may not be congruent with current definitions and indicators of academic outcomes that achieve equity when enacted in real schools on the ground. Because the Academic Strategic Plan approach to district-level systemic reform intends to improve schooling for underserved populations, and for this dissertation study particularly multilingual learners, understanding the documents is important for school districts and researchers.
The focus of this dissertation is specifically on understanding the Academic Strategic Plan documents, particularly in light of their stated intention to close achievement gaps and increase the academic success of multilingual learners. The multilingual learner population is diverse, comprised of students with a wide range of aspects of their identities though with a single commonality- they are learners who navigate their daily experiences in multiple languages. These two ASP documents focus on the particular subset of multilingual learners classified as English Learners (ELs). EL is a federal classification of language status indicating students’ limited English proficiency and qualifying them with legal protection that requires equal access to grade level content as their fluently-English speaking peers. The population labeled English learners is important because many of the Academic Strategic Plan efforts engage data-driven decision-making and ELs are a population for which data are collected and tracked locally, as well as by state and federal agencies. The EL population is a subset of the
3


multilingual population who, according to how we currently measure achievement, are not achieving to standards and fall within the achievement gaps the plans state intention to eliminate.
By engaging Ethnographic Content Analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013), a model of Frame Analysis (Benford & Snow, 2002; Creed, Langstraat, & Scully, 2002; Goffman, 1974) in this dissertation study, I seek to better understand the messages and ideologies that underlie the problems and solutions around the success of the multilingual learner population that Academic Strategic Plans propose to solve. With clearer understandings of the existing plans I seek to also reimagine approaches to schooling that may continue to improve the schooling experiences and achievement of our multilingual learners.
Rationale and Purpose for the Study
Curious as to how current designs of schooling are similar or different from the societal factors that surround them, along with personal and professional experiences in schools, I noticed that Academic Strategic Plans were being used to determine current schooling practices, and schools that serve multilingual learners were experiencing varying levels of success at reaching the goals of the plans. This dissertation study was then designed to look closely at conditions, initiatives, messages and ideologies present in Academic Strategic Plans from two districts with similar large populations of the culturally and linguistically diverse learners in order to understand how they are currently framed, and re-imagine other possible frames. Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA) of documents and interviews potentially gives us a window into the ideological, cultural and educational beliefs that underlie the plans. Empirical data from interviews with leaders whose role is to interpret and support schools to enact those plans potentially provides insight into how aligned the plans are to meeting the needs of the leaders, teachers and learners they are designed to support and engage.
4


Research Questions
In order to learn from successes and challenges inherent in this complex work, the following questions guide this study:
1. How are people and schooling practices represented in district Academic Strategic Plan documents that purport to seek equitable outcomes for bilingual learners?
a. What is/not named or discussed?
b. What messages and ideologies are conveyed and how are they framed?
2. What perspectives do district leaders responsible for interpreting and enacting Academic Strategic Plans express about bilingual learners and their teachers, as well as schooling practices and the work to meet the stated goals?
a. What is/not named or discussed?
b. What messages and ideologies are conveyed and how are they framed?
3. How do the frames, messages, and ideologies that underlie district Academic Strategic Plans reflect, or not, what is known from the professional literature around successful schooling for bilingual learners?
Rationale for the Analysis Methodology
For this study I am using Ethnographic Content Analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013), a specific form of Frame Analysis (Goffman, 1974), to understand the messages and ideologies that underlie Academic Strategic Plans and the perspectives of those who work on the ground to enact them. Altheide and Schneider (2013) provided a compelling example of the power of framing to influence how we see problems and their solutions when they made the comparison to the opioid epidemic. When the opioid epidemic is approached framed from a criminal justice vs. a public health perspective there are differences in- “what is discussed, how it is discussed and
5


most importantly how it will not be discussed” (Altheide & Schneider, 2013, p.52). Beliefs about addicts, methods to understand phenomena, approaches to solutions, and resources available are radically different as the same problem is approached within each very different frame. As with the opioid epidemic, understanding current and possible alternative frames for interpreting the Academic Strategic Plans may provide alternatives or help reimagining additional approaches moving forward.
Significance of the Study
According to data from the U.S. Department of Education Migrant Policy Institute (MPI), the K-12 English language learner population in the US has seen dramatic growth and is now present in all 50 states. For example, in school year 2012-13 in eleven states English Language Learners (ELLs) comprised 10-25% of the K-12 student population, in twenty-one states 5-9.9% of the K-12 student population was comprised of ELLs, and in eighteen states 0- 4.9% of the K-12 student population was comprised of ELLs.
Table 1
Percentage of English Learners in the K-12 Population, 2012-2013 States with 10-25% States with 5-9.9% States with 0-4.9%
California Idaho Montana
Oregon Utah Wyoming,
Washington Arizona North Dakota
Nevada Oklahoma South Dakota
Alaska Nebraska Iowa
Hawaii Arkansas Missouri
Colorado Minnesota Louisiana
New Mexico Illinois Mississippi
Kansas Wisconsin Alabama
Texas Indiana West Virginia
Florida Michigan Tennessee
Georgia Kentucky
South Carolina West Virginia
North Carolina Ohio
Virginia Pennsylvania
6


Table 1 cont’d
Maryland
Delaware
New Jersey Vermont New Hampshire Maine
Connecticut Rhode Island Massachusetts New York
(Hallock, Batalova, 2015)
This study is specifically focused on better understanding Academic Strategic Plans districts are constructing in response to the call for increased equity for this growing population and understanding the perspectives of the people enacting those plans specifically to improve academic outcomes. The ultimate goal is to understand where both are situated in light of research on successful schooling for multilingual learners.
Definitions of terms are included to facilitate an understanding of the overlapping terminology used in this study to describe the multilingual learner population.
Multilingual learners- diverse students who operate in more than one language, regardless of the degree of proficiency in any of their languages (Kieffer & Thompson, 2018)
English language learners (ELLs) are the population of students who speak at least one
additional language in their home and are categorically identified and tracked as a specific subgroup by their proficiency in English measured by language proficiency assessments. Also called English learners (ELs), Emergent Bilinguals (EBs) (Linquanti,
Cook, Bailey, & MacDonald, 2016; Garcia, Kleifgen, & Falchi, 2008)
Former ELs are the population of students who speak a language in addition to English, have
achieved English proficiency according to federal and state requirements and have been redesignated as proficient in English. Upon redesignation from programming these
Definition of Terms
General Terminology
7


students no longer receive specialized separate English instruction classes, and their language proficiency is assessed and academic progress is monitored for four years. After monitoring students are considered exited and are no longer tracked separately from the general population (Umansky, 2016)
Ever-ELs- is the population of multilingual students who are currently considered English learners or Former ELs and importantly change the results of ‘achievement gap’ analysis as this inclusive population breaks the “gap that can’t go away” when English Learners are compared with English Only students. The presence of reclassified English learners in the Ever-EL population allows the academic achievement of multilingual learners to be seen beyond their acquisition of English proficiency (Saunders & Marcelletti, 2012)
Organization of the Study
In order to achieve the goals of this study in response to the Research Questions above, the study is organized in the following way. In this chapter, I outlined the problem under investigation and the goal of the study. Chapter I also includes the research question and key definitions. In Chapter II, I provided a review of the literature about the Academic Strategic Plan Approach, Critical Sociocultural Theory, and Successful Schooling for Multilingual Learners.
The goal of analysis of documents, interviews, and research is to better understand how Academic Strategic Plans in these two districts are or could be providing the conditions for success of multilingual learners. Chapter III describes the research design and methodology Frame Analysis (Goffman, 1974) and the particular model Ethnographic Content Analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013). Chapter IV provides the findings in response to all three Research Questions presenting 1) the content of Academic Strategic Plan documents, 2) the content of
8


interviews, and 3) the inter-relation between the content of documents, interviews, and the literature of successful schooling of multilingual learners. Finally, in Chapter VI provided recommendations for school districts and future research in light of the findings and frames
9


CHAPTER II
LITERATURE REVIEW
This review of literature focuses on three topics: first describing the Academic Strategic Plan approach, second a review of Critical Sociocultural Theory, and finally a review around successful schooling for multilingual learners focused on English language development and integrated content language practices, and effective pedagogy.
Strategic Planning for Systemic School Improvement
Academic Strategic Plans comprise one current approach to strategic planning for systemic school improvement. The initiatives outlined in the Academic Strategic Plans may or may not be congruent with current definitions and indicators of academic outcomes that achieve equity when enacted in real schools on the ground (Kaufman, 2018; Lane et al., 2013; Rutherford, 2003). Academic Strategic Plans are situated within an historical reality in which federal and state policy requires high-stakes standardized test-based accountability systems (Franquiz & Ortiz, 2016; Sharp, 2016). There is significant outcome discrepancy on these measures between groups based on race/ethnicity, socioeconomic, gender, and language. In common language and in scholarship, these discrepancies are named achievement and/or opportunity gaps (for examples see Boykin & Noguera, 2011; Carter & Weiner, 2013; Darling-Hammond, 2015; Howard, 2010).
Previous research has shown a range of philosophies and practices adopted in school reform to address unequal student performance. Academic Strategic Plans state intentions to improve academic outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse students defined as closing academic achievement gaps and preparing all students to be college and career ready.
10


The development of an Academic Strategic Plan is a collaborative strategic decisionmaking process that districts engage in to organize their approach to improving their schools (Brazer et al., 2010; Lane et al., 2013). The outcome of the planning process are publicly published documents that districts create that outline their vision, mission, goals, and initiatives that they have formulated to in order to address equity in education for all students, and can range in quality and effectiveness (Lane et al., 2013; Strunk, Marsh, Bush-Mecenas, & Duque, 2016). ASPs include specific and explicit goals in response to federal mandates that they close academic achievement gaps between White students and students of color, English learners, and students experiencing poverty, as measured by yearly standardized tests.
Why Critical Sociocultural Theory
I began with a curiosity as to how current conditions of schools are similar to or different from the societal conditions that surround them, combined with my own personal and professional experiences in schools. I noticed that Academic Strategic Plans were being used to determine current schooling practices, and schools that serve multilingual learners were experiencing varying levels of success at reaching the goals of the plans. By applying a lens of critical sociocultural theory, I sought to better understand the content, messages and ideologies Academic Strategic Plan documents contain (RQ1), perspectives of people implementing the plans (RQ2), and how this compares to literature from a critical sociocultural perspective on successful schooling for multilingual learners (RQ3).
Using critical sociocultural theory to examine the content of Academic Strategic Plans (ASPs) and the perspectives of interview participants as they provided their thoughts on the ASPs, I have the potential to make visible the challenges and barriers to implementing them. Using critical theory allows me to make visible issues of power, language, and approaches to
11


education that serve to either liberate or oppress those within systems (Freire, 1970) and recognize how ideologies of Academic Strategic Plans constrain or expand possibilities. By identifying tensions evident, particularly from interview participants as they navigate understanding and implementing the plans in light of disconnects they see in their day-to-day experiences with teachers and learners in schools, I uncover ways learners and schooling practices are situated and identify how Academic Strategic Plans, and the messages and ideologies beneath them, operate to determine how successful schooling is described for multilingual learners.
Theoretical Framework
The theoretical framework for this dissertation is based on critical sociocultural theory (Lewis, Enciso, & Moje, 2007; Teemant, 2018) which is derived and expanded from critical social theory (Bourdieu, 1991; Freire, 1970), and sociocultural theory (Rogoff, 2003; Vygotsky & Cole, 1978).
Critical Sociocultural Theory
Critical sociocultural theory (Lewis, Enciso & Moje, 2007; Teemant, 2018) offers a reconceptualization of sociocultural theory that focuses on the cognitive, cultural, and relational nature of learning within the social, political, and historical context in which learning happens that a critical lens brings. This duality offers a new set of lenses and tools that can be used to understand how power, identity, and agency operate as aspects of learning literacy (Lewis et al., 2007). Pointing to Foucault’s (1980, 1984) theories of power as “productive” and a result of interactions and relationships, as opposed to an “entity” that can be possessed, desired, and/or resisted, Moje and Lewis speak to how power plays out in questions of how knowledge, information, interactive structures, and language are used and the resulting manner in which
12


school is presented. Who holds power (makes decisions, determines what counts, and sets timelines) shifts what is possible for learning and positions teachers and students in particular manners. Drawing from Lave (1996) and Gee (2001), Moje and Lewis (2007) describe learning as “shifts in identity” (p. 19) in which learners not only internalize and use knowledge and skills, but adopt degrees of the disciplinary discourse practices within which the knowledge and skills operate (separate from joining the profession.) These shifts of identity that can be enacted within and across communities involve awareness for the learner of the dynamic nature of discourse communities and the manner in which individuals can gain membership (or be marginalized). Moje and Lewis (2007) further describe the chances for participation within learning spaces as “opportunities to learn” (p. 21) and bring to light the requirements and supports necessary for learners to engage agency within learning activities.
Working specifically to “unsettle the status quo of injustices for multilingual and multicultural (MLMC) students,” Teemant (2018) builds on a body of conceptual and empirical work around sociocultural theories of pedagogy in teacher preparation, in particular the Five Standards of Effective Pedagogy (Tharp, 2000). Studies by Teemant et al. (2014) and Teemant (2013) revealed that the Five Standards Coaching Model supported immediate and one-year-later sustained change, and when tightly implemented also led to student achievement gains (Teemant & Hausman, 2010). In response to findings that teachers were finding it challenging to contextualize classroom learning from within lived experiences of their minority students, Teemant, Leland, and Berghoff (2013) recognized the need for and developed a new measureable principle of learning- Critical Stance. Critical Stance provides explicit manners in which teachers can engage learners in questioning, reflecting, and challenging inequities within their immediate schools and communities and in practice engage in critical pedagogies (Duncan-
13


Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Freire, 1970) that focus learning on the co-construction of knowledge, in spaces of participation, use of student background knowledge within the social and political contexts specific to the community.
Critical Social Theory in Education
Critical social theory in education (Bourdieu, 1991; Bourdieu & Passerson, 1977; Freire, 1970; McLaren & Kinchloe, 2007) brings a lens that focuses on social justice and equity issues that impact society and schooling, particularly around cultural, social, and symbolic capital, cultural reproduction and dynamics of power in society, and in a microcosm of society, schools. Academic Strategic Plan documents and the perspectives of those supporting schools to implement them determine what gets included or excluded from schooling practices and the material ways in which those practices are enacted; the degree to which they are responsive to the ways language, power, and culture are embodied; and ultimately what “counts” for success in school.
For the success of multilingual learners in particular in this dissertation study, I drew from Bourdieu and Passeron’s (1977) assertions that language is both 1) a tool for communication- language, dialect and accent- and 2) a mechanism of power- determining whose voice is included, who has the “right” to speak, to be listened to, or to interrupt. Using Freire’s (1970) concept of the banking model of education where knowledge is static, students are “containers” and “receptacles” whose agency allows for organizing and cataloging of the information, but knowledge is seen as a gift “bestowed” by the knowledgeable to those who “know nothing” makes visible problems with the particular approach to learning in these two Academic Strategic Plans. I defined the approach to learning as found in these documents as the elements that position learning as mastery of external standards and the discrete point
14


accountability systems in place to track and ensure every student achieves to these ends. This importantly keeps the focus of schooling on banking progress towards standardized goals, which in turn limits activity in school to prioritize these future-facing ends. I argued this limits the scope of daily work and makes little room for “critical consciousness” development and in so doing, ultimately is resulting in schooling as an oppressive practice, and schools as a locale of “social reproduction,” not “social transformation” (Freire, 2000).
Sociocultural Theory of Learning
Sociocultural Learning Theories (Rogoff, 2012; Vygotsky & Cole, 1978) describe learning as social, knowledge as cultural, and suggest that learning develops through interactions that build from the known to the new and are dependent on negotiation with more knowledgeable others. These theories begin with the assumption that learning is situated in everyday social contexts and that learning involves changes in participation in activity settings or communities, rather than the individual acquisition of abstract concepts separate from interaction and experience, thus identifying learning as an apprenticeship process (Rogoff, 1995).
Origins. The historical origins of sociocultural theory can be tied initially to Vygotsky and his work in Russian psychology during the early 20th century in response to the behaviorist and individualistic beliefs about learning of the time. Vygotsky’s work emphasized the ways learning occurs within a broader social system, is a direct product of social interaction and the enculturation of concepts built together, and that individual and social processes in learning and development are interdependent ( Vygotsky & Cole, 1978; Wertsch, 1991).
Building on Vygotskian tradition, scholars have expanded the original description and explanation of learning within individual and community contexts, and developed new strands that share a view of human interaction as mediated by systems of language and symbols within
15


specific cultural and historical contexts, i.e., cultural nature of development (Rogoff, 2003) and communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Through the common central tenets of sociocultural theory provided in the above body of literature, particularly: a clear focus on interaction, situated within participation (and the histories of participation that accompany the learner into new interactions), the mediating role of the more experienced other, and all of this occurring intentionally within communities of practice; sociocultural theory provides a specific lens through which we can understand how learning operates in social contexts. In so doing we can identify critical elements that must be present in schooling practices and the systems and structures that organize the activity systems of schools (and by extension, districts) to promote learning. Academic Strategic Plans contain specific information as to how schools are to be organized; how teaching and learning are to operate at the organizational (district office), school, and classroom level; identify specific goals and targets for improvement; and provide descriptions of how districts will know when they have met their goals. Using sociocultural theory to examine what is and is not operationalized in ASPs I can locate the systems and structures that determine how human interaction, language and symbols, and communities are being constructed and identify elements that can serve as avenues or barriers to the success of the goals of the Academic Strategic Plans.
Mediational Tools. The use of mediational tools (Vygotsky & Kozulin, 1986; Vygotsky & Cole, 1978), the artifacts or objects that support learning within guided interaction between more and less knowledgeable participants, are central components that allow for meaning to be negotiated from within those experiences. These tools, the concrete or ideational content that is used to guide, interpret, or otherwise influence the content of the experiences in which meaning is negotiated, are central to the learning experience. In addition to describing the practices
16


within schools that sociocultural theory can help bring to light, Academic Strategic Plans may operate as meditational tools across stakeholder groups that might aid in understanding the approaches and expectations the district has for running itself. ASPs provide a mission and vision, a central set of core beliefs, and then action steps by which to achieve specific goals. This provides a common set of practices that are set forth as guidelines and tactics that are to be used to ensure equal access to learning and therefore ensure all students achieve. Recognizing that ASP documents are created and presented as roadmaps of local policy that determines how everyday practices of schooling are to happen within and across district schools, they can be seen as mediating tools that are designed to assist learners (in this case the district personnel, school leaders, and teachers) to provide schooling for the students in their care.
Successful Schooling for Multilingual Learners
Multilingual learners (students who speak at least one language in addition to English in their homes) make up roughly 1 in 5 public school students in the US, and about half of the students are currently developing language proficiency in English (Cimpian, Thompson, & Makowski, 2017). Drawing from the body of literature from the last 10 years around the successful schooling for multilingual learners I focus on three core foci of research: 1) English language development, 2) Integrated content language practices, and 3) Effective pedagogy.
Research shows that the equity of access and outcomes for English learners (ELs) is variable. A review of the most recent (2012-18) meta-analyses and existing reviews of literature resulted in seven studies that inform this dissertation study. Two studies (Goldenberg, 2014; Scanlan & Lopez, 2012) focus on the overall body of research on recommended practices. Goldenberg, focusing on English learners specifically, finds that what we know about effective instruction in general is good for English learners as well, that additional instructional supports
17


are needed, particularly at earlier levels of language proficiency, but that there is no published empirical peer-reviewed research available on the effects of existing scaffolding practices recommended in conceptual works. He also finds that home language can promote academic development and that this is not dependent on particular programming models but can be a support for academic concept and language development, particularly home language reading.
English Language Development
Classification and reclassification. States and districts currently use different criteria for initial classification (identification of a student as an English learner that triggers the provision of English development services) and reclassification (the process through which students’ language proficiency is determined to be sufficient to no longer need language-specific services) and these criteria continue to change over time (Abedi, 2008; Linquanti, 2001; Thompson, Umamsky & Reardon, 2014). Efforts made to develop a framework for a common English learner definition and identify clear and consistent criteria for classification decisions are intended to address the inequities attributed to the variation of these policies and provide clear guidance forward for more equitable assessment and programming for these learners (Cimpian, Thompson & Markowski, 2017; Estrada & Wang, 2018, Linquanti, Cook, Bailey, Macdonald, 2015; Robinson-Cimpian & Thompson, 2016).
Classification and achievement gaps. The impact of removing reclassified students from achievement comparison and only comparing ELs and EOs has potential for researchers and educational professionals to draw misleading conclusions such as underestimating the population, overestimating the gaps, and decreasing likelihood to detect progress and as a result there are significant implications for policy and practice (Hopkins, Thompson, Linquanti,
August, & Hakuta, 2013; Saunders & Marcelletti, 2012). There is an assumption underlying
18


current test-based accountability systems that performance on the assessments, particularly achievement to particular benchmarks that are seen to be equally achievable across population subgroups, is a fair and accurate measure of what students know and can do. The multilingual learner population, particularly those learning English simultaneously with content and expected to demonstrate knowledge and skills similarly to their monolingual English peers, has much to offer in critiquing current expectations. “English language learning is a complex system, holistic, nonlinear, and is constantly evolving; however, current assessment practices do not address this complexity” (Pappamihiel & Walser, 2009, p. 133).
The need for “nuanced, meaningful accountability policies” (Hopkins et al., 2013) is made clear in the recommendations for ESEA reauthorization (ESSA) to more fully account for EL (and other subgroup) performance and provide more authentic ways for students across subgroups to demonstrate knowledge and skills, and schools to be accountable for educating them beyond the “gap” framework. Samson and Lesaux (2015) further emphasized the need for more nuanced understandings of the factors that impact language minority students’ educational outcomes as they examined the factors beyond language that potentially impact schooling and result in the underperformance typically attributed to language differences but that extend beyond that: race, gender, SES, urbanicity, and teacher characteristics including but not limited to experience and education levels. Further considering the condition of schools and the impact on student performance, Dixon et al. (2012) added to the discussion with a review of literature to identify the impact of optimal conditions, facilitative characteristics of learners and teachers, and speed of language acquisition on learning.
19


Integrated Content and Language Practices
In the era of the Common Core standards initiatives and the high-stakes test accountability systems that undergird current district practices in line with federal and state requirements, multilingual learners are situated within a particular fundamental challenge. Multilingual learners are somewhere along the continuum of learning content and the language through which that content is predominantly taught and assessed, and this greatly influences their opportunities to learn and the potential for successful evaluation of the knowledge and skills acquired if not expressed fluently in English. “Nothing in the CCSS demands that learning is in, through, or about English. What the CCSS does require is that students ’think critically, read analytically, and use language in sophisticated ways’” (Klein, in Valdes, Menken & Castro, 2015, p. 32). It is critical to consider that the requirements can be met in the language a student best knows and speaks, and that using their full linguistic repertoire provides students better chances to fully engage with the standards, particularly students newest to English.
The explicit and implicit academic language and literacy demands of the standards bring challenge for all students, but especially for ELs as they are learning the language of instruction while engaging with and processing content at grade level. This indicates a need to specifically prepare both pre-service and in-service teachers with different pedagogical knowledge and skills, not only for specialized language instruction (often called ESL or ELD) but also for grade level subject-specific instruction as well (Bunch, 2013; Johnson & Wells, 2017; Kibler et al., 2015).
Recognizing that success in high school mathematics courses often serves as a gatekeeper for graduation from high school, matriculation and ultimately success in post-secondary educational options, Thompson (2017) conducted a mixed-methods study to explore math course-taking patterns in secondary school through an Ever EL lens. Findings included evidence
20


that institutional (course assignment), classroom (ways of knowing), and individual (motivation) factors influenced students’ course taking patterns (including repeated courses with little evidence of additional learning) and resulted in significant gaps in English learner mathematics success.
In the effort to support English learners’ success in these standards-based achievement efforts, specific academic behaviors have been identified by language domain (speaking/listening, reading, and writing) as a way of considering the skills required by CCSS for students acquiring language proficiency (Bunch, Kibler & Pimentel, 2012). Recognizing language as a “complex adaptive system of communicative purposes” (van Lier & Walqui, 2012) brings an additional shift of perspective and further clarity on what is required of English learners to engage with and successfully achieve to these standards-based learning and assessment goals and ultimately close these gaps in performance. “In the absence of an explicit focus on language, students from certain social class backgrounds continue to be privileged and others to be disadvantaged in learning, assessment, and promotion perpetuating the obvious inequalities that exist today” (Schleppegrell, 2004, p. 3).
Kibler et al. (2015) call for us to see the challenges inherent for ELs engaging with instruction to these standards as a “valuable transformative opportunity for the profession” when they draw attention to the direct statements in the ELA standards that state that it is “beyond the scope” of the standards to detail appropriate supports for English learners or students with special needs, but that the responsibility of providing all students the “opportunity to learn and meet the same high standards... without displaying native-like control of conventions and vocabulary” (CCSSI, 2010, p. 6).
21


Kibler et al. (2015) also raise issues of text complexity, new cognitively demanding ideas and concepts encountered within text, and the presumed reality that many students have had limited prior experience with these materials and the skills to navigate them. “For ELLs reading in a language that, by definition, they are still in the process of acquiring, these issues are particularly acute” (p.12). The implications are broad for recognizing that speaking and listening standards require specific attention to the connection between oral language development and reading and writing, and will entail the purposeful integration of listening and speaking skills into regular classroom practice (Deguay et al., 2013; August & Shanahan, 2006). Considering reading- with the shift requiring closer alignment to NAEP text types (e.g. informational text as
50% in 4^, 55% in 8^, and 70% in 12^) English Language Arts and content area classrooms will need to provide textual resources through which students can develop content knowledge and language skills, particularly if the components of the text and language itself are specifically addressed (Deguay et al., 2013). As this is a shift from traditionally dominant fictional literature, educators will also need to attend to increased demand in textual complexity, which is challenging for native speakers and will require specific attention for multilingual students along the continuum of acquiring English as they engage with this content. And in writing- focusing again on better alignment to NAEP, in addition to analysis of college and career writing expectations (National Governor’s Association, 2010), argumentation has been determined the predominant focus of oral language and writing standards. Specific instruction and exploration of argumentation patterns, genres, disciplinary contexts, and language for specific academic purposes will be necessary for students to master the variation of communication structures argumentation entails.
22


Effective Pedagogy for Multilingual Learners
The population of culturally and linguistically diverse students speaking more than one language has grown in US public schools, and they are predicted to soon outpace the numbers of their majority culture monolingual English-speaking peers (OELA, 2016). Beyond the scope of this review but important to acknowledge is the growing body of research on the broader context that surrounds pedagogical considerations- focusing on factors beyond individual experiences, presenting a picture of the intersectional institutional and societal disadvantages that complicate understanding underperformance and disparate educational outcomes of students, and expanding the potential solutions generated so that schools can be more effective at expanding opportunities (Nevarez-La Torre, 2012; Poza, 2015; Samson & Lesaux, 2015). This review focuses on school and classroom factors that comprise teaching and learning practices which have potential to support the language development and academic achievement of the multilingual learner population as this will then be compared to the practices as identified from the two Academic Strategic Plans that are the focus of this dissertation study.
Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Approaches and a Critical Stance
Gloria Ladson-Billings’ landmark paper “Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy” (1995) “addresses student achievement while helping students affirm their cultural identity while developing critical perspectives that challenge inequities that schools (and other institutions perpetuate)” (p. 469). This work on culturally responsive pedagogy (Cazden & Leggett, 1976; Gay 2000) has laid a foundation for teaching and learning practices in classrooms that counter deficit perspectives and seek to build on the assets and Funds of Knowledge (Moll, Amanti, Neff & Gonzales, 1992) that comprise students’ whole identities. Tharp, Estrada, Dalton & Yamauchi’s (2000) vision of excellence, fairness, inclusion, and harmony via their Standards for
23


Effective Pedagogy within the classroom provide explicit structure for students’ learning language and academic content simultaneously. The Standards establish collaborative structures where students and teachers work together to accomplish tasks and goals, provide explicit and direct teaching of language and literacy needed for the complex thinking and learning within those collaborations, connect classroom learning to real-life lived experiences of students and contextualization within students’ background knowledge, teach complex thinking through challenging activities, and make space for teaching and learning through instructional conversation. This, when combined with Teemant, Leland and Berghoff’s (2014) efforts to “translate critical pedagogy into comprehensible, intentional, and measurable teacher practice” (p. 1) has the potential for transformational schooling practices to counter injustices within and surrounding these communities. Through their development of a scale of Critical Stance, Teemant et al. (2014) make observable the intentional practices teachers can use to connect school learning and students’ lives. Anchored in critical theories (Giroux, 1988; McLaren, 1989), these critical pedagogy practices urge teachers to move beyond providing school knowledge alone (Freire, 1994) and take direct aim at disrupting pervasive educational, economic, and structural inequities through their work in the day to day classroom with minority students.
Summary
In this review of the literature I drew from the well-established and broad range of research on the needs, challenges, and potential of multilingual learners in school. Using a critical sociocultural lens (Lewis, Enciso & Moje, 2007; Teemant, 2018) I focused on three core bodies of literature: 1) English language development, 2) Integrated content language practices, and 3) Effective pedagogy in order to establish an understanding of the research as a basis for
24


comparison to the recommendations for schooling practices as described in the two Academic Strategic Plan documents in this dissertation study.
25


CHAPTER III
METHODOLOGY
Overview
I conducted an analysis of two metropolitan school district Academic Strategic Plan (ASP) documents and interviews of school district personnel using Altheide and Schneider’s (2013) Ethnographic Content Analysis model of Frame Analysis (Goffman, 1974). The goal of the study was to better understand the messages and ideologies that comprise the frames that underlie these two Academic Strategic Plans in comparison with current research on increasing equitable outcomes for multilingual learners in school.
Data collection involved accessing district ASP documents publicly available online and recording interviews with district level personnel who interpret and support the implementation of ASPs and opt-in to be interviewed, at their convenience. When it was determined that interview data could not be collected from the third district within the data collection window, the study focused just on the first two.
Data analysis consisted of a systematic review of each document for content, then an analysis of the content of the districts together for messages and ideologies evident, followed by interview analysis to understand how the messages and ideologies are taken up or resisted in the day to day enactment of these plans. The analysis process was recursive between documents, between interviews, and finally between documents and interviews to understand content, themes and ultimately the messages and ideologies that underlie the plans.
Next, the findings from these analyses were viewed through the lens of critical sociocultural theory (Lewis et al., 2007; Teemant, 2018) to determine what literature of the past 10 years has identified as conditions for successful schooling of bilingual learners.
0


In conclusion, Academic Strategic Plans are reimagined as to how they could be resituated to more effectively operationalize emancipatory and social justice goals and thus lay groundwork for a new vision of schooling conditions in which multilingual learners, and all students, can thrive. The findings of the study are primarily to contribute to the knowledge base of current school district level reform efforts intended to improve equitable outcomes for multilingual learners. Additionally it is hoped that individual districts could apply the findings to their own reform efforts to continuously improve policies and practices that impact this historically underserved population.
Research Questions
To better understand the content and language used to describe education change efforts in publicly available district-written Academic Strategic Plans in large metropolitan districts with high numbers of multilingual learners, I asked the following questions:
1) How are schooling practices represented in district Academic Strategic Plan documents that purport to seek equitable outcomes for multilingual learners?
What is/not named or discussed?
What messages and ideologies are conveyed and how are they framed?
2) What perspectives do district leaders responsible for interpreting and enacting Academic Strategic Plans express about multilingual learners and their teachers, as well as schooling practices and the work to meet the stated goals?
What is/not named or discussed?
What messages and ideologies are conveyed and how are they framed?
3) How do the frames, messages, and ideologies that underlie district Academic Strategic Plans reflect, or not, what is known from the professional literature around successful
1


schooling for multilingual learners?
Research Methodology
The approach to data collection, document, and interview analysis was to use the Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA) Method (Altheide & Schneider, 2013). The development of EC A “was influenced by an awareness by many researchers that simply studying the content of mass media was not enough; it was also important to be aware of the process, meanings, and emphases reflected in the content, including discursive practices” (Altheide & Schneider, 2013, p. 2). Discursive practices (Bacchi & Bonham, 2014) as developed by Foucault, are the ways in which power is asserted through the use of language. Frame analysis (Adams, 2015; Benford & Snow, 2000; Goffman, 1974) is a methodology used to interpret, organize and identify structures that underlie communication and action of individuals and groups, and “is not just a technique for making sense of complex discourses, but an invitation to re-enter, or admit being part of, a politicized project that has far-reaching implications for people’s lives” (Creed et al., 2002, p.
53). ECA is also a form of frame analysis and served to guide a recursive and reflexive process of systematically but not rigidly sampling, collecting, coding, and analyzing data in response to the above research questions.
Data collected for this dissertation study began with exploration around a specific interest of the researcher on 1) schooling practices for multilingual learners, and 2) local policies and practices and how they were being enacted. Confirming that Academic Strategic Plans were indeed an approach for many districts so this level of document would serve as the appropriate unit of analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013, p. 39), a document collection and selection process was followed to narrow to three districts’ documents. Altheide and Schneider (2013) describe that in ECA “documents are studied to understand culture- or the process and the array of
2


objects, symbols, and meanings that make up the social reality shared by members of a society” (p.5). Because the culture and social realities of districts are complex and complicated, the decision to also interview personnel was made to bring additional dimension-human perspective-to the data set. To identify interview participants, criteria were developed, district organizational charts examined, and identified district personnel were invited to participate in the study.
Data analysis comprised of EC A practices including upfront identifying categories and variables to initially guide the data analysis, knowing that in the process of conducting a descriptive and narrative analysis of the discourse within these documents other categories are expected to emerge. ECA is specifically oriented in order to “check and supplement as well as supplant prior theoretical frames” (Altheide & Schneider, 2013, p. 26). To build off initial analysis of content into analysis of messages, ideologies, and frames, MAXQDA Summary Tables (similar to data display matrices from Miles, Huberman & Saldana, 2015) were constructed to examine clusters of related codes and identify themes within documents, and then within interviews, and finally to identify the messages and ideologies that ultimately create the frames that determine how policies around schooling practices for multilingual learners are discussed within Academic Strategic Plans.
Through this method I sought to better understand elements that support and/or contradict the equity goals of the Academic Strategic Plans. Comparing and contrasting the findings of the analysis of the messages and ideologies within and across documents have potential to deepen understandings of the frames that underlie the plans. The findings from the analyses were compared and contrasted to 2008-2018 research literature around what is successful schooling for bilingual learners. The comparison of this study’s findings with findings from the field
3


contribute knowledge as to ways the District Academic Strategic Plans support and/or detract from educational reform to equitable ends for bilingual learners.
Research Design
To answer these research questions, data were collected from district Academic Strategic Plans and interviews with district personnel. Following the Ethnographic Content Analysis model, an analysis of multiple Academic Strategic Plan documents and video-recorded interviews was engaged in a recursive cyclical process that involved initial analysis by document and interview, then returning to previously analyzed documents and/or interviews with new codes found in later documents and interviews in order to best understand the data set as a whole. Table 2.
Data Collection Timeline
Month Study Activities Data Collection Technique
June-July 2018 Collection and analysis of Academic Strategic Plans from 2 districts Secure district IRB for interviews Accessed publicly on the internet
June-Sept. 2018 Interviews with District Personnel Scheduled by email/phone and conducted via Zoom
Table 3.
Data Analysis Timeline
Month Study Activities Data Analysis Technique
July-Sept 2018 Frame Analysis of Academic Strategic Plan documents interview recordings Ethnographic content analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013)
Oct- 2018 Comparison of document and interview findings to empirical and theoretical research on successful schooling for bilingual learners Summary Grid and Summary Tables (MAXQDA)
Jan 2019 Distribution of findings with District teams
4


Data Collection
District selection. To identify the focus districts for Academic Strategic Plan analysis demographic data were collected on 10 mid-sized metropolitan school districts that are using Academic Strategic Plans to guide school improvement. The demographic summary from the Today’s Promise, Tomorrow’s Future Report (Simon et al., 2011) about the outcomes of Hispanics in urban schools was consulted to gain perspective on potential districts to study. This report was used to identify the total number of students and schools in districts serving large numbers of ELs, and this revealed that district size ranged from 10,000 to over a 1,000,000 students. Considering the likelihood that districts with larger percentages of English learners would be more likely to be actively attending to language and achievement in their Academic Strategic Plans as a factor, districts serving the largest percentage of English Learners (EL) were identified to further narrow the field of potential districts. Ultimately a population focus was determined- districts with a total size of between -60,000 to 100,000 students of which between -25 and 35% are identified as EL would be considered for the study.
District websites were accessed to confirm that current demographics continue to fit, confirm that written Academic Strategic Plans were available and currently being implemented. District organizational charts were consulted to fit, and to confirm departments specifically focused on English learners that included personnel responsible for supporting the implementation of the ASP. Through this process six potential districts were identified. Further criteria narrowed the field to three districts that were regionally distinct and from different states to increase the chances of multi-state applicability of the findings.
Data collection techniques. Following the Ethnographic Content Analysis model, data collection comprised two sources: 1) Academic Strategic Plans and 2) video-recorded 30 minute
5


interviews. District Academic Strategic Plans were gathered online from district websites or provided by district level sponsors of the study (IRB agreements with the districts required a district authority who internally approved the study). Interviews were conducted with central office district leaders whose role is to support schools to implement their district’s Academic Strategic Plans specifically from the standpoint of supporting multilingual learners. Interviews were conducted and recorded via Zoom. Interview participants had a range of expertise and all had knowledge and engagement with a subset of district schools and were able to speak to the demographics, academic performance, struggles and successes of their school leaders, teachers, students, and communities. Interviews focused on avenues and barriers these leaders perceive around the lived experiences of school improvement and improved outcomes for multilingual learners at the school level. Interview questions explored the particular focus in Academic Strategic Plan goals that specify addressing what was identified as a central problem-Achievement or Opportunity Gaps.
Interview participant recruitment. The focus population for interviews in this study are district level instructional leaders whose role is to interpret and support implementation of the Academic Strategic Plans, particularly in light of their role supporting multilingual learners. In each of three districts, contact lists for potential participants were made after consulting with personnel in the Research and Evaluation department instrumental to the district IRB approval process or at the recommendation of academic professionals who had existing relationships with people in the departments serving multilingual learners in these specific districts. Participants from District 1 and District 2 responded. While initial contact was made with both research and multilingual learner department personnel in District 3, there was no response to attempts to develop a specific contact list and the pursuit of participation from this district ended here. For
6


District 1 and District 2, once the initial contact list was made, each potential participant was emailed directly with a brief overview of the study, request for participation, brief bio of the researcher, and draft interview questions for their consideration. Three out of the six potential participants responded from District 1, and five out of the six potential participants responded from District 2 for a total of eight interview participants. Interviews to be held and recorded in the online platform Zoom were scheduled at participants’ convenience.
Interview questions. Interview questions were developed with the goal of understanding the perspectives of district personnel who knew the plans and potential avenues and barriers to the success of the plans. Interviews were conducted via Zoom and video was recorded for the purpose of analysis. Each interview took between 25 and 35 minutes. The following questions were approved by the CU Denver IRB and district IRB prior to any interviews:
1) Please tell me a bit about your position, specifically your responsibilities in light of enacting the Academic Strategic Plan. What is your role specific to the achievement of multilingual learners?
2) How do you see multilingual learners performing in your district? What are some areas of strength? What are some areas of challenge?
3) What structures and/or systems currently in place do you think are already or have the potential best support school leaders and teachers of multilingual learners to achieve the goals of the strategic plans? What do you think might serve as existing or potential barriers?
4) From your perspective, what are potential ideas (and/or existing future plans) that could build on those strengths? And potential ideas (and/or existing future plans) to address those barriers?
5) Is there anything else you would like to share with me?
7


Interview questions, along with a brief biography were sent ahead of time by email and were used to solicit perspectives from each interview participant.
Data Analysis
Document Analysis
First pass coding. Data analysis was initiated in response first to Research Question la: How are schooling practices represented in districts’ Strategic Plan documents that purport to seek equitable outcomes? What is/not named or discussed? Academic Strategic Plan documents were uploaded into MAXQDA, a data analysis software program. Documents were read multiple times to familiarize with content and get a sense of the documents as ‘wholes’. Documents were then read using the Data Analysis Protocol (Appendix A) as a guide. This Data Analysis Protocol contained a brief summary of the purpose of Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA), Research Questions, and a series of questions designed to explore the content of Academic Strategic Plans in response to Research Question 1 about documents. This protocol was then tested on non-study publicly accessible Academic Strategic plans to confirm that the protocol prompts effectively drew out the discourse of the plans before use in this study.
The process of using the protocol on the Academic Strategic Plans was at first highly systematic- each question was held in mind as the documents were read, and initial codes describing the content were assigned to segments of the document. The initial question “What is the content and organization of these Academic Strategic Plans?” generated the codes Vision/Mission, and Core Beliefs/Values, Demographic Data, and Implementation Plan. The second question “What is the problem and how is it defined?” generated the codes Problem, Achievement Gap and Opportunity Gap. The next question “How are multilingual learners represented?” and sub-questions “Words used to describe, ideas/concepts expressed, multilingual
8


learners singled out or part of “all”, specificity around language as a part of language and assessment, and other (a placeholder for representations not predicted) generated two general codes- Describing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners, and as that did not code much data, an additional, more general code was added Describing Students. In coding for Students it was noticed that people of other roles were described specifically as well, so the codes Teachers, School Leaders, Central Office Personnel, Families and Community, and Successful Graduate were added.
In response to the third question, “How is successful schooling described? What criteria are present? What criteria are absent?” generated many codes; Curriculum/content/standards/ assessment (these initially were separate codes but as they did not apply to much data individually, and always appeared together with at least one other of these codes, became a single code for any of these concepts), Classroom Environment, Instruction, Central Office Responsibilities, School Leadership (including Instructional Leadership Team), College and Career Readiness, Technology, Professional Development. In response to the question “What solutions are offered to address the problems?” the code Solutions Offered and The Plan were used to capture how the districts intended to implement their solutions- which are the content of the plans themselves.
District 2 documents were coded first and upon completion of the first pass a memo was written to capture noticings and thoughts about the first question from the protocol, specifically what is the problem description/overview. The use of the Data Analysis Protocol and coding of the documents process became recursive in response to the actual document content. While reading and assigning first pass codes, the Data Analysis Protocol was adjusted and amended in response to what the documents actually said. This included re-wording of the prompts as well as
9


re-organizing the order of the analysis. Once the District 2 document was coded for the two major categories and memos and summaries were completed capturing the specifics from this single document, District 1 documents were accessed and coded following the same process. Initially the same codes were used and as coding progressed new codes were added as needed based on content of the new document. Upon completion of District 2 coding, District 1 documents were then coded for the new codes that had emerged from District 2 (See Figure 1).
D1^D2-»D1 Coded document content
D1 + D2
Coded for patterns
D1+D2 D1 + D2
Coded first Coded five more
three interviews interviews
D1 + D2
Initial analysis of messages and
ideologies
from
documents + interviews
Figure 1. Coding process for documents and video interviews.
Interview Analysis.
First pass coding. Data analysis was initiated in response first to Research Question 2a: What perspectives do district leaders responsible for interpreting and enacting Academic Strategic Plans express about bilingual learners and their teachers, as well as schooling practices and the work to meet the stated goals? What is/not named or discussed? Videos of the interviews were uploaded into the same project as documents in the data analysis software program MAXQDA. Videos were viewed multiple times to familiarize with content and get a sense of the interviews as ‘wholes’. Videos were then viewed using the Interview Questions for reference during the coding process. Codes from the interview questions, 1) Interviewee role in light of Academic Strategic Plans, 2) multilingual learner performance- areas of strength 3) multilingual learner performance- areas of challenge, 4) systems and structures to support leaders and
10


teachers to achieve the goals of the plans, 5) existing or potential barriers, 6) ideas or plans to build on strengths and/or address barriers, 7) anything else. Interviews were also coded using the same codes as the documents when applicable, and new codes were added as new content was discussed (See Figure 1 for timing overlap of document and interview coding). During the coding process it was noted that the boundaries between the topics were at times blurred (i.e., strengths and challenges of learners and strengths and challenges of systems and structures) so after each coding session codes were reviewed and re-coded as necessary to reflect the content of the segment, regardless of the question it was in response to. After each interview was analyzed, previous videos were reviewed to apply any codes that arose in later interviews to earlier ones.
Dl-> D2-> D1 Coded document content
D1 + D2
Coded for patterns
D1+D2 Coded first three interviews
D1 + D2
Coded five more interviews
D1 + D2
Initial analysis of messages and
ideologies
from
documents + interviews
H
U
3
CL
X = w
2?
Q. V rtS u
N
li
0 m
0 t
0
'■5 ■« d E
Researcher stance and IMPLICIT application of theoretical framework
Figure 2. Coding, analysis and application of theoretical framework over time.
Analysis of Messages and Ideologies- Documents and Interviews
The Summary Grid and Summary Table features of MAXQDA were used to examine all codes referring to Successful Schooling (Sample- Appendix B). All identified codes from all documents were loaded into the Summary Grid and summaries were written for each code by document. Once complete the summaries were compiled into a Summary Table, a matrix that organizes the summaries by code and document for easy side-by-side review and analysis. The Summary Table was reviewed and a memo was written chunking similar ideas together and
11


identifying initial emerging themes. This process was then repeated for 1) Problem- Achievement Gap and Opportunity Gap, and 2) Describing Students and Learning. Interviews were similarly analyzed for 1) Roles and Thoughts about ASPs, 2) Strengths, 3) Challenges, 4) MLL Performance, and 5) Ideas for Moving Forward. Lexical searches were also completed on the terms ‘all every each’, ‘culturally responsive, relevant, or appropriate’, and ‘excellence’. Themes emerged in two major categories- people and the work of schooling. Messages about people were about 1) Excellence and success; 2) Accountability and efficiency; and 3) Power, identity and Agency. Messages about the nature of the work performed in the districts were 1) Equity as Equality or All/Every/Each; 2) Systems and structures to achieve high expectations; and 3) Culturally and linguistically responsive education.
Review of the Literature of Successful Schooling for Multilingual Learners The literature review process was started with systematic searches of the Education Full Text and ERIC databases through the University library system using search strings that referred to strategic planning, school reform, educational change, multilingual learners, English learners. This yielded thousands of hits. To delimit the search, further criteria were applied: publication dates between 2008 and 2018, US public pK-12 school context, not specific to bilingual education or work pertaining to multilingual students who also have IEPs as these are specific bodies of research that are focus on programming and interventions that go beyond the scope of this study. These documents were then loaded into the MAXQDA data analysis software and abstracts were paraphrased for core content and coded. Some codes existed previously from analysis of the Academic Strategic Plan documents, others were created to capture new content. Since a challenge in finding empirical studies on these topics was identified, mining conceptual works was an effective strategy for expanding literature resources.
12


Ethics
IRB approval timeline. Exemption approval was received from University of Colorado Denver March 8, 2017. District 1 approval was received July 18, 2018. District 2 approval was received August 17, 2018.
Participant confidentiality and privacy. The confidentiality and privacy of those creating and implementing these plans will be protected in the following ways.
Participants were provided a consent form (Appendix C). If a participant had to leave the interview early for cause other than leaving the study I would have inquired if it would be possible to schedule a time to complete the interview. If completing the interview would not be possible I would inquire if it is ok to consider the partial interview information in data analysis.
If the information was insufficient or the participant chose to no longer be part of the study I would have destroyed the data collected and excluded this person’s interview information from the study. All participants participated in the study to the end and while this provision was in place, it was not enacted.
To protect confidentiality to the greatest extent possible all districts, schools and individuals have not been directly identified. District specific information was de-identified and pseudonyms were given to all districts, programs, schools, and individuals. These pseudonyms have been used in all handwritten and typed notes and texts, including transcriptions of interviews. These pseudonyms have been used in all writing and talking about the study. Since districts have made these documents public and individuals who participate in writing and/or carrying out the plans are also publicly identified, a potential risk, however small, remains that the districts or their personnel may be recognized. To further mediate this risk, in addition to
13


using pseudonyms, in reports I will leave out information referring to individuals, schools or the district that could serve to identify individuals, groups or districts.
A note about citation: the IRB agreements with both districts specified that I strengthen the language about privacy to say- "Since districts have made these documents public and individuals who participate in writing and/or carrying out the plans are also publicly identified, a potential risk, however small, remains that the districts or their personnel may be recognized. To further mediate this risk, in addition to using pseudonyms, in reports I will leave out information referring to individuals, schools or the district that could serve to identify individuals, groups or districts” (emphasis added). For this reason I am providing direct citation of interview quotes using pseudonyms, and am paraphrasing and summarizing the majority of the data from the documents. When specific wording from the documents feels important to capture the tone or content, I am including those few words in quotation marks. I am not indicating which document it refers to in order to limit the risk of identification of the document and district through an internet-search of the phrasing since they are publicly available online.
Document and other study material storage. I have stored all artifacts, handwritten and typed notes and documents, and digital audio recordings associated with the study on my university-issued encrypted laptop. This laptop has been kept secure and with me or locked in my advisor’s university office or my home office. All physical copies of handwritten and typed texts, artifacts, memos, and notes have been secured in a locked file cabinet in my home office. All emails, Zoom transcripts, and notes from communications with committee members were protected by using the University-provided Outlook email system and other programs on my university-issued and encrypted laptop. After the study has been completed all materials will be
14


kept secure for five years and then destroyed using University of Colorado Denver School of Education & Human Development protocols.
Researcher Stance
The researcher is a 20-year educator committed to high-quality education for multilingual learners. I have worked as a public school teacher, district level coordinator/partner and a University teacher educator specifically focused on providing and supporting high quality language and literacy instruction from a critical perspective. As a White woman and an emerging scholar I believe it is my responsibility to critique the normative and dominant approaches of educating culturally and linguistically diverse learners that commonly define difference as deficit. I am committed to engaging practices of reflection and bias checking so I can recognize and address the assumptions, interpretation of ‘truth’, and tensions that come with my positionality as a person of privilege within the public schools and the academy in which I study.
In this study, I am an outsider, not currently working in either district. I have worked in one district previously; however, I was not and am not currently in a supervisory role with any of the district personnel I spoke with for this study.
Limitations
This study is limited in scope by the small ’n’ (two districts). My hope is that it lays the foundation and raises questions that merit further research in these areas.
Interview participants were limited to those who chose to opt-in, which turned out to be members of the departments that serve multilingual learners. Further research to understand perspectives of district personnel who don’t have the multilingual learner lens may bring additional information and insight into strengths and challenges of implementing Academic Strategic Plans.
15


The researcher has relationships and prior experience in one of the two districts; this could have impacted access and openness in interview data collection.
Summary of Methodology
In summary, for my study, I conducted an analysis of Academic Strategic Plan documents and interviews of school district personnel using the Altheide and Schneider’s (2013) Ethnographic Content Analysis model of Frame Analysis (Benford & Snow, 2002; Creed et al., 2002; Goffman, 1974). The goal of the study was to better understand the messages and ideologies that underlie two metropolitan school district Academic Strategic Plans that state goals for equitable outcomes of bilingual learners and how they are framed.
Data collection involved accessing district ASP documents publicly available online and recording interviews with district level personnel who interpret and support the implementation of ASPs and opt-in to be interviewed, at their convenience.
Data analysis consisted of a systematic review of each document for content, then an analysis of the content of the districts together for messages and ideologies evident, followed by interview analysis to understand how the messages and ideologies are taken up or resisted in the day-to-day enactment of these plans. The analysis process was recursive between documents, then interviews, and finally between documents and interviews to understand content, themes and ultimately the messages and ideologies that underlie the plans.
Next, the findings from these analyses were viewed through the lens of critical sociocultural theory (Lewis et al., 2007; Teemant, 2018) to determine what literature of the past 10 years has identified as conditions for successful schooling of bilingual learners.
In conclusion, Academic Strategic Plans are reimagined as to how they could be resituated to more effectively operationalize emancipatory and social justice goals and thus lay
16


groundwork for a new vision of schooling conditions in which multilingual learners, and all students, can thrive. The findings of the study are primarily intended to contribute to the knowledge base of current school district level reform efforts intended to improve equitable outcomes for multilingual learners. Additionally it is hoped that individual districts could apply the findings to their own reform efforts to continuously improve policies and practices that impact this historically underserved population.
17


CHAPTER IV
FINDINGS
This study examines the content, messages and ideologies in Academic Strategic Plans (ASPs) from two districts with significant numbers of multilingual learners in order to understand their content and how they are framed. These two ASP documents contain stated purposes of communicating the focus of district expectations for people and practices intended to close achievement gaps and produce more equitable outcomes in schools. This chapter will provide findings related to all three Research Questions and is organized to first report on Research Questions la (the content of documents) and 2a (the content of interviews), the Research Questions lb and 2b together (messages and ideologies of documents and interviews), and finally Research Question 3 (review of the literature on successful schooling for multilingual learners.)
Response to Research Question la- document content was about the nature of work and the roles of people; response to Research Question 2a- interview content was about interview participants’ own roles, challenges and barriers, and ideas for moving forward. Response to Research Questions lb and 2b- messages about schooling practices in the districts were 1) Equity as equality or All/Every/Each; 2) Systems and structures to achieve high expectations; and 3) Culturally and linguistically responsive education. Messages about people were about 1) Excellence and success; 2) Accountability and efficiency; and 3) Power, identity and agency. Response to Research Question 3- the comparison of messages and ideologies and the review of literature on successful schooling for multilingual learners revealed tensions between the predominantly technicist framed approaches as outlined in documents and the lived experiences of interview participants in their roles supporting multilingual learner success within current
18


conditions of schools and technicist definitions of achievement by which success is measured. When compared with literature about successful schooling practices for the diverse and varied multilingual learner population, which are framed from predominantly critical sociocultural perspective, tensions found in the interviews were validated and possibilities for potential paths forward emerged.
Response to Research Question la: Content of Documents
Research Question la Findings emerged in 4 categories: 1) Purpose and Problem Identified by ASPs, 2) Increased Numbers of Students Ready for College, Career and Community Life, 3) Operationalizing Gap-Closing Mandates Through Data-Driven Practices, and 4) What ASPs Say About People Across the Organization.
The Purpose and Problem Identified by Academic Strategic Plans
The two districts participating in this dissertation study have developed and published Academic Strategic Plans in response to the call of national and state policies, specifically naming as a core focus the goal of closing achievement/opportunity gaps. The Academic Strategic Plan documents are designed to share with the public the focus the districts have agreed upon for their work over a specified period of time. Each Academic Strategic Plan provides a section that documents the process they used to include stakeholders across the organization and community to contribute to everything from budgeting to professional development planning. Academic Strategic Plans present demographics, vision, mission, core beliefs, values, and strategic priorities.
These two ASPs are written to outline common expectations for leading, teaching and learning in all district schools. The primary purpose of school is presented in these ASP documents as preparing all students to graduate on-time, ready for college, career, and
19


community life. These ASPs name the central problem to address as “achievement gaps” between students who are achieving and groups of students who are not. This category of “not achieving” includes a diverse range of students this category compacts their individual and group identities into a single group of “everyone else” for whom we must eliminate “the gaps.” These Academic Strategic Plan documents show that data-driven practices across the institution [at student, teacher, school, and district levels] are how these two districts are operationalizing their response to Federal and State accountability policies that require eliminating these “gaps.” Achievement and opportunity gaps. When discussing achievement gaps, Academic Strategic Plan documents describe the need to take bold steps necessary and ensure the success of all students and talk about indicators and specific numerical targets for improvement focused on students, test scores, graduation rates, attendance, and behavior. The narrative of “success for all students” is consistent even when specifying students with differences, and students experiencing those differences are frequently lumped together in one single group identified by needs that would be addressed if they were not experiencing success within the content and manner of regular educational programming. In these ASP documents this one group most often described together includes “English language learners, students with disabilities, gifted and talented students, and students struggling to keep pace.”
In the Academic Strategic Plan documents there is discussion of realignment of resources to allow for new models of content delivery (personalized and individualized learning) and a move towards “competency-based practices with fidelity of implementation” as well as the impact potential this has on closing gaps. Frequent and transparent data-driven conversations and accountability of schools are presented as actions that districts and schools will engage in to accomplish “eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps.” One district goes into more detail
20


than the other and uses “opportunity gaps” alongside achievement gap, stating that the source of the gaps are a failure of schools to provide opportunities and meet students’ needs. The district refers to these students who have needs as a group comprised mostly in poverty, students of color, students with disabilities and English language learners. They specifically identify that this group has significant need for intervention to “get them back on track” using academic scores as the evidence as both the source for identification of the problem and improvement of academic scores as the locus of the solution. This failure to meet the needs of this group and achieve these scores is discussed as “on us,” as in the responsibility of schools and the district, and is the reason for urgency in the approach to solve the problem of opportunity and achievement gaps.
When talking about how they will achieve the goal of eliminating these gaps, these ASPs discuss the provision of resources and supports and the implementation of a “data-driven and transparent” system that will track the performance of schools to accomplish achievement outcomes for all students. This system is intended to inform decisions about the degree of district-intervention and potential for “replacing a school for consistently poor performance.”
The ASP documents also talk about need to be innovative and that implementing strategies of the past more or better will not accelerate achievement for all students. They discuss creating environments that best meet the needs of all students, and identify a measurement of success of this initiative as the number of innovations that close opportunity and achievement gaps.
More Students Prepared for College, Career, and Community Life
The first category of priorities these two districts describe in their Academic Strategic Plan documents is how they define being prepared for college, career and community life. When students are described in these two districts’ Academic Strategic Plan documents, the
21


descriptions are often within the context of what districts need to do in order to create the conditions in which all students achieve. The description of what student success looks like is an acknowledgement of “issues, problems, unexpected challenges, academic and social needs” that students navigate as they go through school. There are also descriptions of the opportunities schooling brings to students (e.g.: new ideas, new knowledge, and new experiences).
These two Academic Strategic Plan documents describe a changing new world that students need to be ready for as knowledge-intensive and globally connected and identify a future challenge for students as competition for jobs not just in the US but also with students from around the world. These ASPs state that changes in technology, a more knowledge-based economy, resources, and opportunities have changed what students must know and be able to do in order to access current and future careers that may not exist today. Academic Strategic Plan documents from both districts refer to their responsibility to enact practices so that students meet standards that will prepare them to be ready for college, career, and life after high school. ASP documents refer to the work of the district specifically to guide new and more rigorous learning experiences, and that when combined with individualized approaches to learning, lay the foundation for students to be prepared for success in their future. ASP documents also discuss supporting students to explore and study post-secondary options and four-year high school plans starting in 8th grade. Even when “traveling unique learning paths”, districts declare commitments to support all students to take advantage of these exciting opportunities and graduate on-time and prepared for "college, career and life in a highly changing and competitive global environment.” Multiple graduation plans are offered to provide pathways to graduation for students. Internships and course credit recovery are additional ways districts provide support for students to graduate ready and on time.
22


Computer proficiency and use of technology is presented in ASP documents as being important for success in college, career and community life. Technology is talked about as being deployed for the purpose of impacting learning and collaboration as educators and their students access open resources and increase their digital literacy. ASP documents state that resources including technology are engaged to meet “unique needs of every student.” Documents articulate that students are held to expectations around technology literacy and are assessed based on the technology standards set by the state.
In addition to describing what they define as college, career and community readiness, these Academic Strategic Plans describe how the achievement of these goals is measured and tracked in various ways. Counts and percentages are completed of students who graduate “on time” (within four years), complete industry licensures/certifications, enroll in college, complete a capstone project, and/or take advanced/dual credit courses. Percentages of students who perform to grade level targets, particularly in reading and mathematics are calculated. Ratios of students to district-issued computers are determined. These measures are then noted and tracked in state accountability systems and are included in quality designation of districts and schools.
Operationalizing Gap-Closing Mandates Through Data Driven Practices Districts are federally mandated to institute policies and practices that will close achievement gaps between students who are achieving to standards and students who are not (Valencia, 2015). Data-driven practices are found across both Academic Strategic Plan documents analyzed in this study as ways districts are operationalizing their response to the gapclosing mandates and the goals they have set for themselves to achieve them. Specifically Academic Strategic Plans describe data-driven practices in central office operations, curriculum
23


and assessment, instruction, learning environments, student learning and professional development.
Central office. Academic Strategic Plan documents also outline the core purpose of central office as developing an organizational culture of customer service, acquiring resources, developing organizational capacity to support schools and value every employee. Districts’ central offices work within a model of continuous improvement to provide operational systems and processes for planning and budgeting cycles, implementing data-driven school performance management that determines the degree of district involvement and support schools receive. Central office is responsible for communication, marketing and branding, alignment of systems and processes, optimization of resources for efficiency and effectiveness with transparency, accuracy and accessibility of information.
According to these ASP documents districts also provide academic resources and supports that schools can opt in to including assessments, professional learning aligned with curricular resources, particularly with a focus of eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps. Their stated goal is to provide flexibilities to schools, while ensuring compliance with laws and other binding obligations, all in alignment with stated values and core beliefs. Districts’ efforts are also focused on expanding or discontinuing programs and initiatives in response to current needs and building relationships and partnerships with city, county, private, and non-profit entities to expand opportunities.
School support described in these two ASP documents entails all that can be managed so that school leadership focuses on teaching and learning in their schools. This includes technology integration, employee reward and recognition programs, innovative professional pathways for
24


teachers, rigorous and scalable pipeline for principals and APs, expanding enrollment, facility management and school safety including transportation and food.
All systems, teams, staff, roles and responsibilities are aligned with the needs of schools and schools are held accountable to performance outcomes. Central office works in partnership with schools and school leaders to determine best practices, guidelines, rubrics and other resources that support informed decision-making "that will close opportunity gaps and lead to the success of all students." This includes "champion[ing] an equity agenda to ensure all students have equal access to quality learning opportunities."
Curriculum and assessment. Also outlined in the Academic Strategic Plan documents are expectations that schools are supported to engage high quality standards-aligned culturally and linguistically appropriate curriculum and assessments (formative, interim, summative, performance tasks) which are all aligned to Student Learning Objectives, and information from reporting systems that provide data and information in order to "improve instruction and accelerate learning." Schools are to provide a coherent and aligned assessment system that includes aligned curriculum for core courses, magnet programs, and AP courses.
These two ASP documents indicate a need for an increase of quality and rigor in classroom instruction: a “deep implementation of grade-level content standards and best practice instructional strategies targeting the needs of English language learners.” Mentioning specifically the need to tailor content and instructional approaches to the needs of each learner, the documents state that students must be prepared to do the thinking and learning, teachers serve as guides and the content is “rigorous and culturally and linguistically relevant” while also being aligned to college and career readiness standards. Specific content mentioned are “builds domain-specific and general academic vocabulary,” “meaningful study of rich topics,” “prepares
25


students to be informed citizens of the world beyond the classroom,” and “fosters development of critical and creative thinking skills.” There is a stated need to improve supports to struggling learners by improving interventions, resources and training and articulate interventions in curriculum and instructional tools. In the face of increasing academic standards and achievement gap indicators, districts regularly monitor progress in reading, math and writing using standardized assessments (e.g. DIBELS, STAR). This monitoring data is also provided to the state for accountability purposes.
Language Proficiency and Spanish standards are directly indicated for including materials that support differentiation across learning needs (e.g. by language proficiency levels aligned to Language Proficiency and Spanish standards). Spanish assessments are provided in literacy and math in grades 3-8. Educators are expected to regularly and collaboratively analyze student work and data to “quickly and intentionally remove barriers to student learning”, provide students the “right data at the right time” so they share ownership in learning and understand progress towards goals, and shape their own learning experiences. All is aimed at increasing student achievement and eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps.
Instruction. Instruction is described as systematic, sequential, cumulative, targeted, and explicit. Direct instruction is specified along with inquiry and problem-based models. Dual language programming is mentioned with need to evaluate the program to determine “impact on student achievement”. Response to Intervention (Rtl) and curriculum implementation are pointed out specifically as high quality supports, interventions, and resources to be provided so that all students achieve in every school. Literacy and math are the two content areas called out specifically. A separate literacy plan developed and implemented is to include specifically “science of reading instruction”' and “practical applications of concepts.” Mathematics,
26


particularly a computational fluency model, is presented as a model to increase student achievement via targeted intervention. A directly stated goal is to increase the number of students performing at or above grade level in math.
Learning environments. Expectations are laid out that learning environments, both online and face-to-face, are physically and emotionally safe, caring, and positive. Culturally responsive education in every classroom via intentional strategies is mentioned as a description of expectation without details of what those strategies might be. Classrooms are to be culturally responsive, celebrate diversity, and make meaningful connections to diverse backgrounds. When describing classrooms a range of terms are used to describe the tone- enjoyable, compelling challenging, stretch, adaptable, tailored, varied student-centered activity and learning (from critical thinking, problem solving, conversation), excitement, passion, innovative, "challenging us to think differently about the design of school and learning environments and to launch new models of learning that dramatically improve how we prepare kids for success." Civic engagement entails community impact projects and authentic problem-solving experiences about social and community issues. The expectation for students is that they be "well-prepared, successful, civically engaged adults.”
Student learning. When describing learning, Academic Strategic Plan documents discuss multiple opportunities for flexible and personalized learning, each student actively engaged in learning, including students with unique learning needs and at times slightly different learning paths.
According to these ASP documents, learning happens in physically and emotionally safe, caring, and positive learning environments, including innovations such as technology use and problem-based learning. There is a transformational use of technology for teaching and learning,
27


and schools optimize online learning and online learning environments. Problem-based learning (PBL) is an alternative to traditional classroom learning. In PBL, learning becomes active in the sense that students discover and work with content that they determine to be necessary. This work is both collaborative and interdisciplinary, providing world-class, intellectually rich, and culturally relevant learning experiences.
Student agency is called out- when students play an active role in selecting what, where and how they learn, students succeed. This includes decisions around content, environment, pace and modality, and engage individual learning paths with dedicated time for student learning, adapted to meet students’ needs. Parents and community partners are intentionally integrated into students’ learning experiences to support their academic, social, and emotional growth.
Students share ownership over their learning by understanding their progress against goals and have voice and choice to shape their learning experiences, and manage their “growth areas, learning needs and interests.” Teachers and students use tools such as learning progression rubrics, practices for leveraging qualitative and quantitative data, matching interests and learning needs and paths that allow for progression based on mastery. Demonstrations of learning inform content, delivery and goals, in collaboration with students to shape their learning experiences, and develop conditions support continuous learning.
A variety of other issues are discussed such as the need for accelerating learning, varied and substantive support to enhance math and reading skills in early childhood, student learning needs to be measured, and that teachers need to understand student learning progressions so they can quickly and intentionally remove barriers to student learning.
Professional development. Supported by central office departments and personnel, professional development is described in Academic Strategic Plan documents as job-embedded
28


and peer-to-peer, focused on building the capacity at the school level to provide access to fun, challenging, and individualized learning experiences for teachers and is grounded in high expectations for students and adults. Professional development is also discussed practically and technically. It is seen as ongoing, innovative, aligned with technology integration and deployment, and specifically focused on supports for core instruction through Rtl, technology integration, and curriculum implementation. A clearinghouse of professional development options serves as centralized support and is guided by a data-driven evaluation system to understand impact of and continuously improve offerings. Schools have the flexibility to determine their own needs and can opt in to district supports or create their own to address the needs of the lowest 25% of students experiencing low performance as measured by academic and career-readiness standards. Districts discuss moving forward with individualization and competency-based models that are seen as the foundation of improvement and policies. High quality professional development supports, feedback, and coaching are emphasized as what is needed to accelerate progress towards ending opportunity and achievement gap.
What ASP Documents Say About People Across the Organization
Academic Strategic Plans describe and refer to school leaders, teachers, students, families and communities, and multilingual learners in mostly active and positive ways and focused on the technical aspects of teaching, learning, assessing, to ultimately close gaps and support student success.
School leaders. Seen as 'critical drivers of change' school leaders and their instructional leadership teams are responsible for all efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps and ensuring the success of “all students placed in their care.” School leaders are seen as pivotal. School leaders are expected to be instructional leaders- their role is to develop and expertise
29


about standards, instruction, assessment, data-driven instruction, positive classroom climate, individualization, and holding teams accountable to closing opportunity and achievement gaps and create systems and structures (i.e., observation cycles and yearlong maps) to ensure every student succeeds. School leaders prioritize professional development and use tools to map out, plan and implement strategic initiatives that support the success of their school. As a function of engaging the community, making strategic decisions and leveraging expertise of school leadership teams, school leaders respond to feedback and continuously improve to champion equity and support their school’s success in closing achievement gaps and supporting success of all students, based on their Unified Improvement Plans. School leaders are valued, sought out and supported, focused primarily on student achievement in well run classrooms. Accessing school leader preparation programs, cultivating leadership internally, and focused mentorship of existing leaders are ways districts seeks to “attract, develop and retain strong leaders.” Supported and held accountable for the success of students, leaders are tasked with modeling and holding students, themselves and their teachers to high expectations.
Teachers. Teachers, named explicitly as “skilled educators,” are seen as intellectually engaged inspirers- "equipped and fully prepared to guide the learning of all students" filled with expertise in content and language, skilled with practices that they engage intentionally, analyzing a range of data collaboratively, deploying resources, tailoring lessons, providing feedback to 'deepen and accelerate learning' and with peers support one another to continuously improve. They are expected to have high expectations and provide excellent instruction with strong supports as they are seen as mediators between students and the “knowledge-intensive globally connected world” helping students acquire knowledge, skills, and habits for success. They develop “intellectually rich and culturally relevant learning experiences” and their complex and
30


important work against the “plague” of “persistent income, linguistic and race-based opportunity and achievement gaps.” Teachers are seen as active learners- analyzing student work and data, exploring, adapting and applying personalized learning tools, collaborating, “understanding and meeting the unique needs of each student in their care,” building on strengths and seeking opportunities for growth by receiving regular actionable constructive feedback and coaching. Teachers also, via a "deep" implementation of grade-level content standards and instructional strategies "targeting the needs of English language learners," assess and progress monitor to make instructional decisions to provide equitable culturally and linguistically appropriate learning opportunities for all students. Teachers participate in professional learning and refine their practice through feedback and coaching loops. Teachers are expected to implement strategies that focus on culturally responsive education in every classroom.
Students. When students are described in Academic Strategic Plan documents the descriptions are often within the context of what districts need to do in order to create the conditions in which all students achieve. The description of what student success looks like is an acknowledgement of “issues, problems, unexpected challenges, academic and social needs” that students navigate as they go through school. There are also descriptions of the opportunities schooling brings to students- new ideas, new knowledge, and new experiences.
Students are described as empowered, owners, achievers, dreamers (“achieve goals they never dreamed possible”). They are held to high standards, seen as potential role models who see “myself as a whole person”, with unique strengths and interests, whose native language, culture, diversity, and physical health are mentioned as “assets” and noted as points of pride and character. The cultural diversity of school communities are to be “embraced and celebrated” and supported by the schools.
31


When describing what students do in school verbs used are think, understand, respond, solve, learn, grow, use, value, embrace, listen, share, and communicate. Students are described as working, accessing, synthesizing, applying, and seeking. They strive to understand, persevere, hold themselves accountable, value, nurture, explore, think deeply, problem solve, create, take ownership, and stretch.
When describing how students engage with content and each other descriptors are used such as critically, effectively, complex, creatively, challenging, independently, attentively, and collaboratively. Students are described as passionate, cultural and linguistic, open minded, with critical ears, passion and elegance. They are self-driven, self aware, dependable, active members of school and community and make impact.
The narrative of “success for all students” is consistent even when specifying students with differences, and those differences are frequently lumped together, as “English language learners, students with disabilities, gifted and talented students, and students struggling to keep pace.” The exception to this is when English language learners are being discussed in light of their language proficiency assessment or assessment in Spanish. In these instances students are discussed as a subgroup of students with “needs” to address.
Families and community. Families and the community are identified as important for students and involvement is valued. A practice presented in the Academic Strategic Plan documents is that Parent Surveys are provided every spring to elicit input and information from families in order to influence decision-making by school and district leaders. Other outreach venues are provided as well. Districts are interested in improving consistency and quality of translation and interpretation services. Families are included as part of “everyone.” Families are expected to be actively involved, engaged and invested in student success. The documents state
32


that families must be “empowered” and “united in embracing transparency, proactive communication and strategies for improvement.” School choice and quality of education options are indicated as elements that help "students and families thrive.” Families and communities are “embraced” and seen as needing to "raise the bar at home and give your children the support they need to succeed at school." Students and families are supported through large scale initiatives like Breakfast in the Classroom, tutoring and mentoring, PTA, service provider partnerships, curricular and extra-curricular education opportunities, specifically identified to meet student and family needs. There is a stated intention to include families in decision-making processes and districts seek to increase capacity to provide translation and interpretation services.
Multilingual learners. What specifically is said about the multilingual learner population and where they fit in the plans for improvement in the Academic Strategic Plan documents is limited. Multilingual learners are rarely described as a stand-alone population with unique characteristics. In the absence of frequent specific mention, multilingual learners are consistently included in efforts to improve achievement for “all” students. If mentioned specifically they are identified as English learners and described only based on their “needs” or their language proficiency. English learners are also most often included grouped together as students with differences, for example, “English learners, students with disabilities, gifted students, and those struggling to keep pace.” Spanish speakers are the only group of multilingual learners whose language is specifically mentioned in light of assessments being available in their language, within specific subjects and grade levels, and though it is not mentioned directly in the documents it is implied that this is to match the language of instruction in those content areas/grades. Improving interpretation and translation services are also mentioned as an important element in “authentic engagement with students, parents/guardians, teachers, and
33


community” and in translated assessment offerings of interims. When describing the need to include materials that support differentiation across learning needs, the need for language-specific considerations is presented (e.g. by language proficiency levels aligned to Language Proficiency and Spanish standards). An example of this is when discussing assessment in general there is a statement to specify that Spanish assessments can be provided in literacy and math in grades 3-8.
Response to Research Question 2a: Content of Interviews
Research Question 2a asks: What perspectives do district leaders responsible for interpreting and enacting Academic Strategic Plans express about multilingual learners and their teachers, as well as schooling practices and the work to meet the stated goals? What is/not named or discussed? Key findings are that according to interview participants, Academic Strategic Plans are perceived as bold and a good first step, but to be effective and accomplish the big goals of closing achievement gaps there needs to be a tighter connection between ASPs and daily work, a better match of ASPs and conditions in schools, and a better understanding of how performance on college and career readiness benchmarks does and does not capture what students know and can do. Three themes that emerged from analysis of interviews were 1) Content of the interviews in light of their roles, thoughts about ASPs and MLL performance, 2) Challenges and barriers they see, and 3) Ideas they have for improvements and moving forward.
Participant Perspective on Roles, ASPs and MLL Performance Interviewee roles. When asked about their job-specific roles in the district all participants indicated that they worked to support a range of people across the organization, specifically to promote the achievement of multilingual learners. The roles of interview participants were central office personnel charged with the compliance, services, and program implementation for
34


multilingual learners in preK-12. Their roles ranged across executive, directorial, and managerial levels of the district department focused on meeting the needs of this specific population. Participant expertise ranged across all educational levels (preschool through high school), and various roles (teaching, school leadership, and a variety of central office positions).
When talking about their roles participants mentioned that their work is to resource and support schools to be able to serve multilingual learners. This includes- initial and ongoing professional development, coaching support for all school staff- front office, teachers, and leaders, curricular support, resources. “All of this comes with a need to track data to understand where we are effective and where we need to make tweaks” (Amelia, interview, September 21, 2018). They also discussed using review structures- rubrics along with the support of district personnel to provide thought partnership and help with decision-making in ways that most schools feel is supportive, with some sort of final assessment where everyone signs off on the status of where the school is and planned improvements.
What interview participants think of ASPs. The Academic Strategic Plans were not much discussed in the interviews, even in response to direct questions. Often responses to the questions were directly about participants’ own roles and their day-to-day responsibilities, concerns, and successes. When Academic Strategic Plans were addressed directly, participants from both districts articulated value yet concern that their Academic Strategic Plans are both bold and very broad.
In speaking to this tension Olivia stated,
The [Academic Strategic Plan] is a bold plan, and I am wary of it because I see the data-[the state assessment] data is showing that we are not even near those college and career readiness benchmarks. So I think that the plan is bold and pulling out the things we should be working towards- but at the ground implementation level it is not being attended to... The bold isn’t as grounded in the data as the daily- of who is sitting in front of us, of what needs students have, of how literacy and language development across
35


every content in everything we teach should be a priority for all of us. And that is just a small piece, but an important one (Olivia, interview, October 4, 2018).
She also pointed out that while there are small pockets to make connections between the
daily work and the bold goals, there aren’t processes at the district or at the building level to
facilitate that happening, and as a result opportunities are being missed.
Mariana, Thomas, Olivia, and Amelia all mentioned discipline-specific plans (literacy,
math, English learner) are also developed around the specific expectations, directives, supports,
and tools that schools use at different grade levels that are aligned with the strategic priorities of
the Academic Strategic Plans (interviews July-September, 2018). Mariana also specified a
cadence of assessments that are then used to measure the growth of different populations of
students, and improvements are then recorded on the [public document used to track progress on
the measures identified in the ASP] to indicate progress of the district towards the identified
goals.
Citing the connection of core beliefs to the day to day work, Mariana named the College and Career Readiness as the belief “we really focus on in our bilingual programming- to look at our English language learners in particular because they tend to be the ones we don’t tend to promote at the levels of others, especially college bound” (Mariana, interview, July 24, 2018).
Participants provided a range of perspectives on how valuable and connected their work is to the Academic Strategic Plan.
Nested beneath the Strategic Plan is the literacy plan, which rolls out problem based learning, the tools that schools are using at different grade levels- and connects our PD with our teachers- the literacy plan identifies balanced literacy- so how do we create robust spaces for bilingual learners in the balanced literacy format that is in the Literacy Plan underneath the Strategic Plan and it is all tightly connected” (Mariana, interview,
July 24, 2018).
In expressing the scope of the plans, Natalie said,
36


The ASP is great it is a good first step... and technically we are all supposed to be cascading from it- but it is so broad- you could argue that pretty much anything that you are doing is cascading from that goal,” (Natalie, interview, October 5, 2018).
Another perspective shared along those lines was that the ASP is
...so broad and inclusive of so many things- it doesn’t seem very strategic- lots of operational things in there. Rather than these are the things we are going to double down on and make an investment to make a big move for our kids. So because it is so broad and all inclusive- I find it unfortunate that we are only mentioned in there as ‘we are going to evaluate the bilingual program.’ I would agree if [it focused on] 3-5 big things I could see that we wouldn’t be on there. But given that from transportation, to cafeteria, to customer service- the fact that we are not on there is something we are really working to change for the next round.” (Thomas, interview, August 23, 2018).
MLL performance on benchmark measures- how these do and do not show what
students know and can do. In response to questions around multilingual learners’ performance
in the districts, specifically areas of strength and challenge, interview participants made points
predominantly about standardized assessments of language proficiency and state-required
assessments of literacy and math. Comments focused primarily on a general history of growth
and upwards-trajectories of multilingual learners as a whole population. Several participants
from both districts mentioned that students who have received native language instruction, and
that students who have exited English Language Development programming (by reaching
predetermined benchmarks on language proficiency assessments) outperform their monolingual
peers. Consistency of programming, staffing, leadership, ongoing or increased professional
development and dual language programming are all mentioned as important features of schools
where students do better on performance measures. When discussing graduation rates two
participants mentioned that the gap between MLLs and peers has been closing, and most MLLs
were ultimately achieving on end of course exams in core content areas with the exception of
English exams, though when bodies of evidence were reviewed most successfully passed the
review and graduated based on committee recommendation.
37


Challenges and Barriers
Interview participants identified a range of challenges and barriers for the implementation of Academic Strategic Plans. 1) The program provision approach is highly dependent on conditions and consistency in schools, 2) Capacity for change is limited when continually countering narratives of deficiency, and 3) Operating in silos at the district, department, and school result in limitations of resources and supports.
Program provision approach is highly dependent on conditions and consistency in schools. Interview participants from both districts, Natalie, Thomas, Mariana, and Alma, all discuss the presence of competing priorities, particularly for school leaders recognizing that there is so much to know and make decisions on when leading in schools, and that not enough leaders have the cultural and language background knowledge to effectively implement bilingual or second language programming- even when they make the conscious decision to opt in to projects that have the explicit focus of intentional language instruction and that come with increased district supports (interviews July-September, 2018). Further expanding on the challenges that root from many leaders and teachers with limited backgrounds about multilingual learners, Carolina raised a further challenge that has to do with the paperwork that tracks English learner proficiency over time. The purpose of this paperwork is to ensure that adequate supports are in place and progress is being made based on legal and policy requirements. “Moving from a compliance to commitment mindset... understanding that forms are not papers we fill out but plans we have to support students” (Carolina, interview, September 27, 2018) is a challenge in schools but one worth tackling because when people do make this move, she reports, programing and student performance improves. Olivia brings up the challenge of multiple program
38


requirements within a single school and the difficulty of managing the tensions between them, particularly on current rapid-pace timelines.
For example, [one schoolj’s programming includes bilingual, 6-12, and Early College-those are all good things to strive for, but ask me if they are doing any of them well. They're not. That's a problem too. There are varied areas of focus that don't dovetail but cause tension among each other. Then you are left with the decision about what do I prioritize within these really high priority items.... What does support look like for that, when they don't have the resources to address all of their competing priorities? ... And the timeline, everything is urgent so the message is you've got 30 days to set that up- Go! (Olivia, interview, October 4, 2018).
Personnel from both districts raised the concern that programming needs to be a match for both the student and teacher population in order for it to be effectively implemented. Launching rigid and specific models that have tight program design intended to be implemented with fidelity has proven challenging in both districts when the conditions of the schools are not a match with program requirements. Issues arose such as access to sufficient materials in languages needed, fluctuation of speakers of the same language at different grade levels- both teachers and students, and changing demographics.
Thomas and Amelia also raised concerns they had about implications specifically for bilingual programming in light of shifting demographics and decisions made to roll out programming en masse. They mentioned that when schools are required to implement programming without consideration of conditions and readiness factors (i.e., numbers of students in each language group per grade level, preparedness and degree of bilingualism of teachers, availability of materials in different languages) there is a concern that as a result the programs were set up for failure, the students not sufficiently supported with cohesive instruction and assessment and that this can then be used as evidence for the need to phase out bilingual programming and move to all-English (interviews, July-September, 2018).
39


Gentrification and population movement in the communities have significant impact on
what language-specific programming schools can (and must) provide.
Changing demographics is a real issue- housing here is very, very expensive and the number of ELs is dropping, and they are shifting in location. Where neighborhoods that used to have lots and lots of English learners those numbers are dropping as that is the area... that is next being hit with gentrification. Whereas in other parts... where it is still more affordable to live, our numbers are growing, so these demographic changes are putting a strain on the ability to implement quality bilingual programs in schools that have traditionally had them (Amelia, interview, Sept 21, 2018).
Amelia also mentioned the stress of continuous change on communities.
There is innovation fatigue- particularly in our African American community. They are saying stop experimenting on us... and while there is some buy-in there is also a pushback.. .let’s just do what we are already doing well. (Amelia, interview, Sept 21, 2018).
Another challenge raised was providing quality bilingual programming under changing
teacher allocation policies. When teacher allocation shifted from program-based to ratio-based in
one district, it created challenges particularly in bilingual programming. An example-
In third grade and if you have 66 students- and a 22:1 classroom ratio, that is 3 teachers-22, 22, 22. But if 33 of those kids are in the dual language program, and 33 of those students are English only or ESL- then what is required to implement the program is 4 teachers- 2 DL and 2 EO” (Thomas, interview, August 23, 2018).
As a result of this policy change schools faced the unintended challenge of engaging the
assets and meeting the needs of both groups in the same room. This forced a more traditional
transitional push-in or pull-out model where you teach everything in English and then provide
small group support or supplement with the other language.
[This is] helpful in that kids are maintaining their Spanish literacy skills, but still isn’t ideal, not as effective as if it were an integral part of all programming, and [an unintended consequence] is that it is turning out to be more of a way to phase out [bilingual] programs than a viable model” (Amelia, interview, Sept 21, 2018).
40


The virtue of consistency in program design and personnel, along with the space to grow
and refine programs over time was mentioned by several participants as important for not only
the success of the programs, but for the success of the students. Jack said it the most clearly
When students have been in consistent [bilingual] programs, particularly pilot schools that have had consistent staff and systematic implementation of programming, student scores seem to be at or above the other elementary schools, especially when you control for socio-economic status and the [bilingual] schools are doing better with low SES students whether they are ELs or non-ELs (Jack, interview, July 31, 2018).
Countering narratives of deficiency. Interview participants serve roles in departments
dedicated specifically to supporting the success of multilingual learners and participants from
both districts highlighted the importance of bilingual programming, from their perspectives, for
multilingual learner’s success in schools. In interviews there was a very strong pattern around
how they talked about multilingual learners naming strengths, referring to them as capable, the
respect they have for bilingualism and biliteracy. One particularly strong example this positive
regard for these students is from Thomas. He said,
Areas of strength we see in the learners- we have tremendous esteem for them- for so many things- the persistence they show, the resiliency they have after overcoming various challenges in life, the cognitive benefits that accrue from being bilingual and having two languages, the confidence that they get knowing that they are on their way to being bilingual students rather than on their way to being English speakers. They are very motivated, very committed to school, families are very supportive of the school-especially at the elementary level (Thomas, interview, August 23, 2018).
Thomas further pointed out the challenge of holding an asset perspective that others do
not when he commented about trying to counter a narrative of deficiency about students. To
paraphrase he mentioned conversations and decisions about raising the expectations of schooling
where countering this narrative of deficiency required making sure everyone truly understood the
potential of all students regardless of their SES, their language, and their culture. Mariana spoke
41


similarly about this need for actively shifting adult deficit perspectives of students with a story
from her experience challenging underlying beliefs about language and bilingualism. She said:
I call it the cancer because it’s like... the deficit thinking... like having very low expectations of children [leaders say things like] well, my children don’t have shoes, they don’t have coats, they don’t have language, they’re too mobile, they don’t have a stable home, and because of this they can’t be bilingual, it’s too hard, it’s too much.
She lamented this reality and points out a need for adult learning, “It’s painful, it’s a
painful conversation to hear but it just shows us how much more support these leaders need, and
how much more learning they still have in front of them.”
She went on to say,
It’s very easy [for them] to list all the reasons why children can’t be bilingual, but it’s funny, when I say, you know, these refugee kids who have lived their entire life in the refugee camp before coming here- and actually, their mother lived HER entire life in the refugee camp, met her husband and got married in the refugee camp, had seven children who all lived their lives in the refugee camp- they all speak 4 and 5 languages. Very few refugee children are monolingual. And [the leaders] look at me- and with all due respect-I get it- but [mobility, poverty, hardships are] not a reason for our children to not be able to learn languages (Mariana, interview, July 24, 2018).
Recognizing the work being done to counter narratives of deficiency, interview
participants from both districts reported that progress is being made and that they are seeing a
critical mindset shift in the last 2-3 years. They reported that in the past English learners had
been seen as an afterthought, plans were made and then, when prompted questions would be
asked about differentiation and language resources. Now more individuals and departments are
recognizing a shared responsibility and making different decisions than they have in the past.
... they don’t always know what do we do about it- but we no longer have to say- is that available in Spanish? And, how might we differentiate that for newcomers- and that is a huge accomplishment (Amelia, interview, September 21, 2018).
Thomas also noted, that the mindset shift has also been evidenced in some actions,
42


The money is not always there but the support is there in theory, and we have been able to move resources around to address [some of the] issues (Thomas, interview, August 23, 2018).
Alignment of systems and structures- the impact of silos. Participants reported challenges with alignment of systems and structures at the district leadership level. Responses ranged from acknowledging differing needs across education levels (i.e., elementary vs. high school), competing priorities (each department having its own initiatives and requirements), needs of students in special populations that most often are addressed or planned for after general initiatives or interventions are developed and rolled out, and even at the highest levels, the design of the organization with separate operations and academics teams can result in decisions and efforts that don’t match the needs of the schools. Thomas provided a specific example of this kind of disconnect,
A major alignment issue was the leadership component- you have the bilingual department in the academics team, and the principals and associate superintendents were overseen by the schools team. The associate superintendents did not agree with bilingual programming beyond a verbal agreement- yeah that’s great, I believe in [it] and think it is important but when it came to any specifics re: implementation the feedback and guidance the principals would get were not specific to the model (i.e., reading interventions in all English though reading was 50/50) we noticed writing scores low on benchmark- so pick which language they are going to be assessed in- and move them to all of that language. And the response was well- good luck with that... other principals didn’t have clout or experience so would buckle to the pressure- and [district leadership] didn’t feel any responsibility to actively support it and often would provide supports that did the opposite (Thomas, interview, August 23, 2018).
Natalie brought up a similar challenge and added the perspective of the end user- when decisions are made in silos and delivered as separate initiatives, it can be confusing and potentially impede the success of the work,
If we really want to move the needle and close the gaps significantly [we need to address] how siloed out we are at the district level and how confusing that is to teachers who are constantly feeling like they have to implement best practices in literacy, and best practices in math, and best practices in ELA. It gets really hard to collaborate, and... if we are not working side by side [we won’t do what we say we want to] especially since
43


content language development and strategies for bilingual learners [are] all embedded in content instruction,” (interview, October 5, 2018).
Interview Participant Ideas for Moving Forward
Interview participants had many ideas for moving forward. Olivia identified that it is “the places of tension and discomfort are the places we have opportunity to create solutions and make change,” (interview, October 4, 2018).
Interview participants expressed a need to move past operating on a model of design for the imagined average learner and then retro-fit materials and instruction for special populations. In response to the challenges about siloed practices that have resulted in important perspectives being left out or too late when collaboration happens after decisions, interview participants described a need for a shift to a model of more collaborative partnership similar to partnerships they are seeing in place at the school level, anticipating that this design could improve effectiveness at the district level as well. Interview participants described ideas for differently designing schools based on the conditions specific to that school (who are the students, adults, materials, and community) and this needs to be prioritized over using only a data-driven focus on meeting an external common high bar of expectations that are the same for everyone. Interview participants cautioned that there is a need for responsiveness in decisions and supports due to challenges of population mobility and decreasing funding simultaneous with raising standards and expectations for student performance.
Ideas and plans to build on strengths and address barriers. Participants varied on what they mentioned as strengths and ranged from tracking students’ participation in English language development programming, providing high quality bilingual/biliteracy programming, to the importance of teams in schools working together, often with district level partners, to understand conditions and identify schooling practices that match the cultural, academic and linguistic assets
44


and needs within the school. Both districts in this study provide dual language programming in some of their schools and most participants from both districts brought up this programming in particular as central to their approach to effectively schooling multilingual learners. Many participants talked about the strengths they see in the collaborations they have in schools or across departments, acknowledging that the successes are pocketed and to truly improve supports to teachers, leaders, and schools they would need to become more strategic and address barriers that are in the way.
This balance of navigating the complexity of the challenges facing schooling was a
common theme across many interviews. For example, Amelia asked:
How do we create schools with high quality bilingual programming [within areas of rapidly shifting demographics]- do we pool resources? Create magnet schools? Then you end up sending the brown kids all to one school- so then we are walking the tension of a value of the benefits of integrated schools for kids- and we believe in school choice- so how do we balance that with being able to deliver high quality bilingual programming?
... Lots of schools are thinking about trying Dual Language as an answer to gentrification, and we want to make sure we have some degree of quality control, so we support and want to be part of those conversations (interview, September 21, 2018).
Building off of the challenges brought up about the deficit thinking that often permeates
thinking about refugee students, Mariana discussed an idea they have been trying,
We have been offering more dual language to our refugee families because at first we were like oh no- they are coming from trauma, but then the families were like- well, my kid already knows French- and French and Spanish aren’t that different, or... my kid already knows 3 languages- his brain is already wired, already translating- he talks with his mother in French and his father in Arabic and his brothers in another language- so it has pushed us to think differently (Mariana, interview, July 24, 2018).
Response to Research Questions lb and 2b: Messages and Ideologies
Research Questions lb (about documents) and 2b (about interviews) ask: What messages and ideologies are conveyed and how are they framed? Analysis of both documents and interviews revealed that the content of these two Academic Strategic Plans are ideologically
45


framed from a predominantly technicist perspective. Interview participants, in their roles and responsibilities to implement district policies and practices express tensions between their own beliefs and thoughts of providing quality schooling for multilingual learners and the technicist-firamed systems and structures within which they operate. This section is organized to first define and explain the technicist perspective followed by sections describing the patterns that emerged from documents and interviews. Messages about schooling practices in the districts were 1) Equity as Equality or All/Every/Each, 2) Systems and structures to achieve high expectations, and 3) Culturally and linguistically responsive education is recognized as a need. Messages about people were about 1) Excellence and success, 2) Accountability and efficiency, and 3) Power, identity and agency.
Technicist Perspective
I am defining a technicist perspective as drawn from the body of literature about educational change, particularly the corporate and business model of education (Bambrick-Santoyo, 2010; Bambrick-Santoyo, 2012; Bryk, 2010; Danielson, 2002; Reeves & Dufour, 2018; Schmoker, 2003). For the purpose of this dissertation technicist approaches are defined as prioritizing strategy, organized as data-driven, and using value-added measures as evidence of successful implementation of educational change. What these approaches have in common is that they share an ideology that efficiency, accountability, and incremental tracking of progress and ultimately outcomes is what will effectively shift student test scores (the measures being tracked) to be more like those of the dominant population. It is the White, middle class/elite, Western European cultural ways of being, knowing, and using language that are the norming referents of the tests, and which are the measure of the success of the schools (Kim, 2018).
46


An example of this ideology in action is the reported success of North Star, a New Jersey charter school network led by Uncommon Schools and the basis for the work Leverage Leadership (Bambrick-Santoyo, 2012). In this work, success is attributed to two things: “the first is a relentlessness about spending time on the most important things and as little else as humanly possible. The second, far harder, is bringing an engineer’s obsession to finding the way to do those things as well as humanly possible” (Lemov’s forward in Bambrick-Santoyo, 2012, p.
Xxii). The narrative that is ‘most important, little else, and doing as well as possible’ positions the work being done in schools as behaviors and activities that can be reduced to a series of steps and actions that, once learned and implemented with accuracy and efficiency, claims to lead to results that can be equalized to transcend difference and achieve the same results for all students in all schools.
One example of how a technicist perspective in these Academic Strategic Plan documents is represented is in how school leaders are presented. The role of school leaders is described as being holders of the technical knowledge of schooling (ie, standards, instruction, assessment, data-driven instruction, positive classroom climate, individualization, accountability for closing opportunity and achievement gaps and creating the systems and structures (i.e., observation cycles and yearlong maps) to ensure every student succeeds. Even when describing planning for professional learning the description is focused on the technical aspects: “use tools to map out, plan and implement strategic initiatives that support the success of their school.”
Teachers and their work are also presented from a predominantly technicist perspective. Academic Strategic Plan documents provide a positive description of teachers, naming them explicitly as “skilled educators,” who are seen as “intellectually engaged inspirers.” Examples of this technicist perspective on effective teaching practices (Au, 2011; Marzano, Marzano &
47


Pickering, 2003) include “equipped and fully prepared to guide the learning of all students” and filled with “expertise in content and language.” Describing teachers as skilled with practices that they engage intentionally, analyzing a range of data collaboratively, deploying resources, tailoring lessons, providing feedback to “deepen and accelerate learning” and with peers, support one another to continuously improve, these ASP documents use language that determines the discrete activity and often the manner in which teachers are to do their work. Teachers are expected to have high expectations and provide excellent instruction with strong supports as they are seen as mediators between students and the 'knowledge-intensive globally connected world' helping students acquire knowledge, skills, and habits for success.
This is important because research, though from varying ideological bases and with varying foci, has consistently shown that school leadership (Leithwood et al., 2003; Robinson, 2017) and the influence of the teacher (Goddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2000; Hattie, 2003) are essential components of schooling in which students experience success. When teaching and leadership are approached from the technicist perspective, the practices, tools, and daily activities are organized around accountability and efficiency, and by design focus on the discrete-point, incremental data that drive the decisions and the work in the schools.
Messages About Schooling Practices and People
This technicist perspective finding is important because this justifies the tight focus on testing and tracking for progress towards external goals that may or may not be in line with complexity of diverse people (adults and children) and conditions of schools (e.g., teacher allocation, materials, cultural and linguistic diversity of the student population). Schooling is complex and there are many competing priorities. With the current technicist approach solutions fall within standardization, silos, data-driven decision-making, and more rigid responses that
48


may or may not match the characteristics and conditions of students and schools. The three key messages from the documents and interviews were: 1) Equity as equality, 2) Systems and structures focus on high expectations and a future orientation, and 3) culturally and linguistically appropriateness.
Equity as equality: All/every/each. Results of a lexical search on “each”, “every”, and “all” revealed that together the distinct and overlapping use of the terms present a narrative of sameness with underlying messaging that equity is equality. The messages within Academic Strategic Plans express an expectation that schooling practices are designed to serve a hypothetical “everystudent” and then adjustments or responses to “needs” of students different from this “normal” establishes a baseline of deficit perspective. The messages around identity and agency become subsumed into the expectations as if difference equals deficit that then needs to be mediated in order to achieve the same ends that can be measured. Interview participants specifically counter this deficit narrative and identify it as problematic and in need of direct countering. Tension exists between the sameness expectations, as laid out in Academic Strategic Plan documents, and the day-to-day work of supporting the widely heterogeneous and diverse population of multilingual learners to succeed within a broad range of conditions within schools. Critiquing and expressing a bit of frustration about the sameness narrative with a bit of sarcasm, Olivia noted, “I don't know if replicability is our ultimate goal- but if it is, we are on the right track for that... but I don’t have [improved standardized test data] to back that up” (interview, October 4, 2018).
“All” refers to a wide range of topics throughout the documents. When referring to people “all” includes individuals- stakeholders, employees, staff, children, students, parents/guardians, community members, families, teachers, educators, and team members. “All”
49


also refers to groups- schools, communities, PTAs, and school leadership teams. In addition “all” also refers to concrete resources, technology solutions, ELA and Math Standards, subjects and grade levels, content, instruction, and assessments. The use of this term calls up a clear interest in inclusivity in addition to a commitment to sameness, the idea that access and engagement in the same activities, goals, groups, and resources is ultimately the focus and task of schooling.
“Every” appears to be another term used to cultivate a sense of our collective responsibility to cultivate an inclusive environment in schools. “Everyone” is responsible, “every student, every day”, also referred to as every learner or every child, every graduate, and every students’journey reveals a noble and optimistic vision, if assimilationist in nature, and perhaps not realistically in tune with the very real diversity and variation in human participation in schooling structures. The term is also used to demonstrate a commitment to excellencedelivering “every possible advantage”, where “every student succeeds”, and when “every child is not succeeding” it is “on us” to empower them and ultimately achieve this goal.
The term “each” is often co-located with “every” or “all” and appears to invoke individualism: each student, each child, each team, each school. However the term also calls to a systematic and deliberate implementation of laid out plans- “each core belief’, “each key action step”, “each spring”, and “each year.”
The messages conveyed about successful schooling are all about achievement to outside pre-determined standards and success that is measured by standardized tests designed to measure performance to those standards. There is also a strong individualistic messaging that comes through the descriptions of schooling that is wrapped tightly in the expectation that “all” students will individually achieve to these outside goals. This messaging that individuals have different degrees of success and therefore have different “needs” for “interventions and supports” invokes
50


a deficit orientation for those not succeeding, despite the asset-based language often used to directly describe students. It is also interesting to note that the idea of difference- the acknowledgement that students may have different access and engagement with the standards, curriculum, and assessments are also condensed into a single category- students with “needs.” For example, “English learners, students with disabilities, gifted and talented students, and students struggling to keep pace” is presented as a unit to be considered for “unique learning paths” or “supports.”
Systems and structures to achieve high expectations with a clear future orientation.
Messages of the importance of preparation for students’ futures permeate the document and interview content- focusing on descriptions of an ultimate graduate and skills and scores students will need in order to access post-secondary options to name two. While a focus on providing a quality education that supports students to pursue wide-ranging post-secondary opportunities is a positive goal for schools/districts to have, this future orientation obscures the present realities and natural variation of children and adolescents. Particularly affected are those who differ culturally and linguistically from the norming population of the standardized tests and coursetaking patterns that serve as the gatekeeper of those very opportunities. The situation has potential for negative impact on these students’ beliefs about themselves and their developing identities that are equally important to cultivate.
Culturally and linguistically diverse education. While not representative across both districts, for the multilingual learner population in particular it is important to note that nine times, in one of the districts, the terms “culturally and linguistically responsive” or “relevant” were used in their documents. This is important because attention to the cultural and linguistic diversity of students and the need to take responsiveness into consideration are critical first steps
51


in appropriately engaging multilingual learners in schooling. What is also important to note, though, is that the presence of the terms and concepts are a step in the right direction, at this point, although in these documents the terms are most often used as a label and specific structural supports for what it would take to actually be relevant or responsive are less evident. Examples of this would be “.. .to provide a well-rounded and culturally relevant education” or “use strategies to focus on culturally responsive education in every classroom” and “create culturally responsive learning environments”. The surface level attention to cultural and linguistic responsiveness in one district and the absence of mention in the second district’s Academic Strategic Plans indicate an area for improvement to specifically better engage multilingual learners and meet the promise of cultural and linguistically diverse education that are clearly embraced in the vision for the districts from both sets of interview participants.
Excellence and success. School leaders, teachers and district personnel are presented as “champions of an equity agenda” who can “empower” “inspire” and “it is upon us” to “remove school-based barriers” to achievement and success. The narrative of “success of all students” is ever present in Academic Strategic Plan documents. This narrative continues even when specifying students with differences- and those differences are frequently lumped together (ELLs, students with disabilities, GT, and struggling to keep pace) unless talking about language proficiency assessment or assessment in Spanish- then ELs are talked about as a subgroup with specific needs (i.e., from a deficit perspective). Language and culture are discussed as ‘assets’ in graduates and noted as points of pride and character. “Embrace and celebrate their cultural diversity” in reference to school communities. Else of assessments in language of instruction, authentic literacy assessments, translations of interim assessments explicitly as part of the data-driven systems that are at the center of solutions are also progress. Documents themselves
52


specify the “persistent income, linguistic and race-based opportunity and achievement gaps” yet there is little directly in the plans to recognize and address the classism, racism, and linguicism that is institutionalized in the schooling system (Carter & Weiner, 2013).
Accountability and efficiency. Accountability and efficiency are presented in documents across topics involving practices and people. The need to provide, progress monitor and track performance on everything from instructional goals to assessment of skills, to high-stakes accountability measures. Focusing on the individual student, teacher, classroom, grade level team, school, and district levels, both districts are explicit about developing systems to track and monitor progress on discrete-point accountability goals. Districts must “Prioritize professional learning and deploy distributive leadership skills to support and empower an instructional leadership team to facilitate and/or lead data-driven collaborative planning, professional learning, and to observe, coach, and evaluate teachers using the Steps to Feedback with common look-fors on data-driven instruction.”
Power, identity, agency. Narratives of power, identity, and agency are present but limited in documents and interviews. Power is presented in documents as “empower” with matched pairs of entities in power and those to be empowered. Examples of how empowerment is used are “[The district] will empower students to graduate.. .prepared to thrive in college, career, and life”, “we will empower our families to be united in embracing [improvement efforts]”, “empower students to take ownership”, “we empower schools to make site-based decisions”, and “schools and teams are empowered to innovate and own key decisions”. Identity and agency are each used once- “building a culture that embraces the unique identity and potential of every child” and “student agency: students take ownership of their learning by playing an active role in [choices about their education]”.
53


Response to Research Question 3: Comparing Messages and Ideologies with Literature
Research Question 3 asks: How do the frames, messages, and ideologies that underlie district Academic Strategic Plans reflect, or not, what is known from the professional literature around successful schooling for multilingual learners? To answer this I performed a review of the body literature around successful schooling from a critical sociocultural perspective (Lewis, Enciso & Moje, 2007; Teemant, 2018) to better understand the body of literature around multilingual learners (See chapter 2 of this dissertation for the detailed review of the literature). The findings fell into three major categories: Accountability, All/Every/Each and Excellence.
Accountability
Systems and structures of accountability have a clear future orientation and present as their purpose a way to establish goals and track progress towards achieving them. In addition to describing what they define as college, career and community readiness, Academic Strategic Plans describe how the achievement of these goals is measured and tracked in various ways. Counts and percentages are completed of students who graduate “on time” (within four years), complete industry licensures/certifications, enroll in college, complete a capstone project, and/or take advanced/dual credit courses. Percentages of students who perform to grade level targets, particularly in reading and mathematics are calculated. Ratios of students to district issued computers are determined. These measures are then noted and tracked in state accountability systems and are included in quality designation of districts and schools.
There is a stated need to improve supports to struggling learners by improving interventions, resources and training and articulate interventions in curriculum and instructional tools. In the face of increasing academic standards and achievement gap indicators, districts
54


regularly monitor progress in reading, math and writing using standardized assessments (e.g.
DIB ELS, STAR). This monitoring data is also provided to the state for accountability purposes.
Research highlights the need for English learners in particular to receive support in order to achieve success in standards-based achievement efforts, and there have been specific academic behaviors identified to support students in each language domain (speaking/listening, reading, and writing) in order to support performance on CCSS instruction and assessment while students are also acquiring language proficiency (Bunch, Kibler & Pimentel, 2012). Perhaps most notably “.. .in the absence of an explicit focus on language, students from certain social class backgrounds continue to be privileged and others to be disadvantaged in learning, assessment, and promotion perpetuating the obvious inequalities that exist today” (Schleppegrell, 2004, p. 3).
All/Every/Each
There is a narrative of sameness in Academic Strategic Plan documents and as a result there seems to be an “everykid” that schools design for and then retrofit, scaffold, and support the “needs of students different from this ’norm’” and seen as deficient. When looking at the terms all, every, and each in the ASP documents this deficiency narrative becomes apparent. Messages of achievement to outside pre-determined standards and success, measured by standardized tests, codifies this sameness into policy and practice in schools and establishes the deficit narrative from which these decisions stem (DaSilva Iddings, Combs, & Moll, 2012; McDermott, 2011). The individualistic messaging and their different “needs” for “interventions and supports” evokes a deficit orientation for those not succeeding, despite the asset-based language often used to directly describe students. Literature calls for a more asset-focused approach (Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Teemant & Hausman, 2010). Oliviera and Anthanses (2017) challenged uniform support routines and urged re-envisioning scaffolding
55


based on a more individualized conceptualization of scaffolding- for whom, how, and to what purpose. Research from culturally responsive and sustaining lenses (Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Ladson-Billings, 2006; Paris, 2012) provides a vision of paths forward urging more responsive practices across all elements of schooling to provide optimal conditions for language and concept learning, contextualized to student lives, for authentic purpose towards genuine audiences have the greatest promise for districts to actually achieve their stated goals of meeting every student where they are and supporting their path to success.
Excellence
Excellence in Academic Strategic Plan documents is narrow in scope. An example of this is instruction which is described as “systematic, sequential, cumulative, targeted, and explicit.” Intervention structures and curriculum implementation are pointed out specifically as “high quality supports, interventions, and resources” to be provided to promote student achievement in every school. Literacy and math are the two content areas called out specifically. A separate literacy plan developed and implemented is to include specifically “science of reading instruction” and “practical applications of concepts.” Mathematics, particularly a computational fluency model, is presented as a model to increase student achievement via targeted intervention. A directly stated goal is to increase the number of students performing at or above grade level in math. The explicit and implicit academic language and literacy demands of the standards bring challenge for all students, but especially for ELs as they are learning the language of instruction while engaging with and processing content at grade level. This indicates a need to specifically prepare both pre-service and in-service teachers with different pedagogical knowledge and skills, not only for specialized language instruction (often called ESL or ELD) but also for grade level subject-specific instruction as well (Bunch, 2013; Johnson & Wells, 2017; Kibler et al, 2015).
56


Conclusion
Academic Strategic Plans are documents written to outline common expectations for leading, teaching, and learning in all district schools. Interview participants and ASPs name “achievement gaps” between students who are achieving and those who are not as the central problem to address. The primary purpose of school as presented in the Academic Strategic Plan documents is to prepare all students to graduate on time, ready for college, career and community life. Data-driven practices across the institution [at student, teacher, school and district levels] are how districts are operationalizing their response to federal and state accountability policies that require eliminating these gaps. Culturally and linguistically responsive practices are mentioned in reference to general conditions to be created in schools (e.g., learning experiences, learning environments, and education) which indicates awareness of the need for diverse approaches for increasing achievement towards the ASP stated goal of closing those gaps, though the limited specificity on the front-end design required to do that well raises concern if design as laid out in these plans is sufficient to do so.
How Academic Strategic Plans are framed changes what is included or excluded and determines how districts talk about, organize, and operationalize school. When ASPs are framed from a predominantly technicist perspective the approaches within them reflect a discrete point accountability for objective, measureable markers on a trajectory towards the achievement of standardized goals. Identifying challenges and barriers, uncovering narratives of deficiency, and soliciting ideas about improvement sheds light on how we might reimagine schooling if framed differently. Applying a critical sociocultural frame illuminates alternative ways to talk about, organize and operationalize schooling practices so that they are more inclusive, responsive, and just for our multilingual learner population, and in so doing, maybe get closer to “for all kids.”
57


CHAPTER V
DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS Overview
There are two predominant ideologies that frame the findings of this study: the first is a technicist approach to the prioritization and organization of the work of school districts found in these two Academic Strategic Plan documents, and the second is a critical sociocultural approach found in the literature around successful schooling for multilingual learners. Messages in these Academic Strategic Plan documents about schooling practices in the districts were 1) Equity as Equality or All/Every/Each, 2) Systems and structures to achieve high expectations, and 3) Culturally and linguistically responsive education is recognized as a need. Messages about people were about 1) Excellence and success, 2) Accountability and efficiency, and 3) Power, identity and agency. Next I apply the analysis of these messages and ideologies to reimagine what an Academic Strategic Plan would need to be responsive to if designed from a critical sociocultural frame. The scope of possibility of what could go into these recommendations is broad and varied, because what is evident there is no one “right” way to develop a strategic plan because by nature, to be successful it would need to be responsive to the conditions of the local context- the students, the teachers, the leadership, the community, the history, and the resources available.
Implications For School Districts
Recognizing that “systems, processes, and institutions are overtly and covertly designed” (Milner, 2010, p.8, as cited in Teemant, 2018) and operate to maintain existing structural inequities in society, a reimagined Academic Strategic Plan through a critical sociocultural framework would challenge the assumptions, practices, and organizational structures that mirror
0


the dominant narrative of society, and are reflected in the technicist framing found in the
Academic Strategic Plans of these two districts.
In order to conceive of the plan one has to know what instruction should look like.
Teemant (2018) highlights the potential and challenges of sociocultural theory for examining
PK-12 language teacher education in order to re-envision teacher preparation in ways that could
change teaching and learning in classrooms. Specifically she examines teacher pedagogy which
she names as beliefs “examined or not, supported by empirical research or purely experientially
derived” (Teemant, 2018, p. 1) that result in instructional choices about materials, interactions,
activities, and environments and ultimately determine experiences in the classroom.
“Restructuring (which can be done by fiat) occurs time and time again, but reculturing (how teachers come to question and change their beliefs and habits) is what is needed” (Fullan, 2016, p.23).
What is emerging as clear from both the data analysis and the literature in this dissertation study is that successful schooling is a complex endeavor that when approached from a technicist frame, limits and constrains possibilities for multilingual learners to high stakes performance of knowledge and skills in English. A critical sociocultural frame instead positions the full cultural and linguistic resources of multilingual learners in expansive and generative ways. An Academic Strategic Plan framed from a critical sociocultural perspective would be deliberately and specifically responsive to the various intersections of cultural and linguistic conditions within the local context- the students, the teachers, the leadership, the community, the history, as well as the resources available and build beyond what has traditionally been considered inclusivity, accountability, and excellence. What follows are elements that must be attended to and considered in the process of developing an Academic Strategic Plan for schooling practices in which multilingual learners could thrive.
1


Theory of Action
If the theory of action of an Academic Strategic Plan were to be based on effective programing and pedagogy for culturally and linguistically diverse learners, it would draw from critical sociocultural theory to outline the practices communities, leaders, teachers and learners engage in together, more and less knowledgeable others, building knowledge and skills including the language needed to think, listen, speak, read, and write about contextualized and challenging content (Lewis et al., 2007; Miramontes, Nadeau, & Commins, 2011; Teemant, 2018; Tharp, 2000). This work would be centered precisely on what happens in classrooms that promotes high quality student learning specifically designed to counter the racial, economic, and linguistic disparities that actively perpetuate systemic inequalities in US societies (Anyon, 2005; Howard, 2010; Lareau, 2011; Rothstein, 2004).
The theory of action would also build directly from strengths-based approaches that challenge assumptions around content and organization of classroom activity and seek to bring intersectional and other-than-dominant cultural practices into diverse classrooms, moving away from the “generic kid” focused mainstream orientation of teacher preparation and professional learning and instead create a “strategic alliances against exclusion” (Alim, Baglieri, Ladson-Billings, Paris, Rose & Valente, 2017, p. 7 in response to Waitoler, 2017). Rogoff et al. (2017) help us see that “classrooms are not culturally neutral” and provide an example of engaging cultural strength of Indigenous-heritage children from North and Central America whose collaborative approaches differ greatly from the dominant-cultural ways that are typically assumed to be the “One Best Way” (p. 877) unless challenged and critiqued.
When describing students, an Academic Strategic Plan from a critical sociocultural frame would draw first on Gonzalez, Moll, & Amanti’s (2005) Funds of Knowledge and the evolution
2


into Funds of Identity (Esteban-Guitart & Moll, 2014; Lewis, Enciso & Moje, 2007). Funds of Identity builds on and expands funds of knowledge- the knowledge and skills that families use across the household that support the well-being of the whole- to shed light on the ways people actively use the knowledge and skills of their specific families and communities as they develop and define themselves. Young people in school are not only in process of acquiring academic knowledge and skills that they will need for future versions of themselves, but are as well at every stage in the process of developing their identities (Esteban-Guitart & Moll, 2014; Norton & Toohey, 2011). These identities are not static, they are continuously made and remade (Roth et al., 2004) and both adults and children make these adjustments continuously as they navigate their day-to-day lived experiences. The cultural component of identity is also not static. Culture is comprised of learned behavior situated within those lived experiences navigating home and school communities, and the use of language that is learned dependent on how families are structured, how roles and concepts of childhood are defined, and how habits of language and ways of being are socialized based on shared learning within those communities (Brisk, 2008; Gee, 2004; Heath, 1983; Nieto, 2001).
The theory of action would directly critique the limiting binary of “everyone who achieves” and “everyone else” found in these two Academic Strategic Plans. Annamma et al. (2013) argue that this conceptualization of “normal” in Westernized society and schools operates to support existing social and academic hierarchies.
Critical Stance
If an Academic Strategic Plan were to be designed within a critical sociocultural frame, practices would draw from critical pedagogies (Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Friere, 1970; Giroux, 1983/2001; McLaren 1994/2003; Teemant& Hausman, 2010). Classroom practices
3


would directly counter the “banking model of education” critiqued by Freire (1970) where students are seen as receptacles of schooling where information is deposited into passive student minds. Freire urged for a practice in which teachers and students work together, to exchange real ideas, classroom activity centered on dialogue and inquiry into actual problems and phenomena in the world. Academic Strategic Plans should promote classroom environments with the capacity to “read the world” in order to “read the word” (Freire & Macedo, 1987) along with “dialogic and problem-posing” practices that center teachers and students together exploring and challenging inequities and challenges in their own schools and communities. An ASP from this perspective would draw from Teemant’s (2018) critical sociocultural theory project, which provided professional learning and coaching cycles to support teachers to adopt the Six Standards of Effective Pedagogy- first established as Five Standards of Effective Pedagogy (Tharp, Estrada, Dalton, and Yamauchi, 2000) -and its additional sixth standard Critical Stance (Teemant, Leland & Berghoff, 2014). In a plan from this perspective professional learning and coaching would be built into the systems and structures across the district in order to facilitate teacher and leader learning responsive to addressing the systemic inequities of society as reflected in the very conditions of their schools (Teemant, Leland, & Berghoff, 2014).
Language and Literacy Development/Instructional Conversation
An Academic Strategic Plan framed from a critical sociocultural perspective would attend directly to the language and literacy development of all learners, taking into account and building from multilingual learners’ complete and complex cultural and linguistic repertoires to build social, academic, and communicative competence for participation in local and global society (Alim, Ibrahim, & Pennycook, 2008; Miramontes et al., 2011; Pennycook, 2010). Language and literacy instruction would come from a theory of learning based in meaning-
4


making (Gebhard, Demers, & Castillo-Rosenthal, 2008; Halliday, 1993) and would build upon understandings of concepts and application of knowledge and skills, to develop and expand the linguistic repertoires used to think about, talk, and write. Language and literacy development would also build from practices that accept translanguaging as the way bilinguals and multilinguals operate from one conceptual and linguistic reservoir, thinking, listening, speaking, reading, and writing in each, both, and at times combined languages with other bilinguals drawing on the richness of expression possible when more than one language is known (Garcia, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017; Garcia & Wei, 2014).
Rigor/Contextualization/Challenging Activities
It has long been noted that teacher expectation of student achievement has direct impact on student performance (de Boer, Timmermans, & van der Werf, 2018). Many scholars have identified potential opportunities to both critique and improve schooling practices within the context of the Common Core standards initiatives (Heritage, Walqui, & Linquanti, 2015; Valdes, Menken, & Castro, 2015). Specifically noted as potential advantage is the focused attention on essential skills needed to engage with rigorous content and learning tasks. This is posited as an alternative approach in order to counter instruction that has traditionally held low expectations of students from marginalized backgrounds, a common reality in grade level classrooms (de Boer et al., 2018; Milner, 2010; Olson, Matuchniak, Chung, Stumpf, & Farkas, 2017). Complex texts and active and meaningful tasks can be leveraged to support higher level tasks and a shift in the dialogue from deficit to asset-based thinking for multilingual learners (Heritage et al., 2015; Kibler, Valdes, & Walqui, 2014).
Academic Strategic Plans, while positing high expectations for all students, can gain advantage from moving beyond advocacy for high levels of the content itself, but provide a
5


Full Text

PAGE 1

IN PURSUIT OF EQUITY : MESSAGES AND ID E OLOGIES IN ACADEMIC STRATEGIC PLANS by JENNIFER FLEMING REAM B.A., Mount Holyoke College, 1992 M.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2001 A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of th e University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Education and Human Development Program 2019

PAGE 2

ii © 2019 JENNIFER FLEMING REAM ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

PAGE 3

iii

PAGE 4

iv This dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Jennifer Fleming Ream has been approved for Education and Human Development by Nancy Commins, Chair Sally Nathenson Mejia, Advisor Kara Mitchell Viesca Amy Boel ÂŽ Date: May 18 , 2019

PAGE 5

Ream, Jennifer (Ph.D., School of Education and Human Development) In Pursuit of Equity : Messages and Ideologies in Academic Strategic Plans Dissertation directed by Associate Professor Sally Nathenson Mejia ABSTRACT This qualitative research applied Ethnographic Content Analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013) to explore messages, ideologies , and frame s that underlie Academic Strategic Plan documents and interviews with personnel in two school districts serving large populations of multilingual learners . A nalysis invol ved applying a critical sociocultural theoretical lens in order to understand how docu ment and interview findings from these two districts align or don't with the last 10 years of research on successful schooling for multilingual learners . Conclus ions we re drawn on findings from 1) the theoretical underpinnings of the plans, and 2) the pers pectives of people specifi cally focused on supporting the multilingual learner population in their district , and 3) the content and framing found in the literature about practices that best serve multilingual learners. The components of a re imagined Acade mic Strategic Plan are discussed as a potential path forward, and recommendations are made for practical next steps districts can immediately take. Keywords: Academic Strategic Plan, equity, English learners, multilingual learners, ideology, ethnographic c ontent analysis, The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Sally Nathenson Mejia

PAGE 6

DEDICATION To my mother, Mary Agnes Flem ing, for always believing in me including unlimited faith in my non traditional p ath . Your dedication to making a difference, like throw ing back starfish on the beach, has always and co ntinues to inspire me to pause and listen each day, to challenge assumptions and bias, to consider responsive approaches and do all I can to make life f or children, families , and educators in school more positive and productive experiences. To my f ather, William Lawrence Fleming, for both your high expectations and your unconditional acceptance of who I am. Your dedicat ion to providing opportunity (at ti mes in spite of myself 2 hours on the back roads of Massachusetts ) was pivotal to my growth into who I am and who I will continue to become. To my siblings, Chris and Cathy for your unconditional love and support throughout this life journey we travel to gether . To my husband Alan, the rock to my rushing stream. Your love, honor, and appreciation for who I have c ome here to be , and unwavering support for the years of exploration and adventure that has led to this us , to this meÉ for th e things that endear you to me, you know I always will. And t o my child ren: Araceli, Aidan, and Ava. You inspire me every day and give me reason to continue learning and committing to combat ing injustice and promoting peace . For you I am commit t ed to doi ng all I can to make the world you inherit the better world that you, your generation , and future generations deserve .

PAGE 7

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many thanks to my esteemed advisor Dr. Sally Nathenson Mejia. Without your absolute confidence, unwavering encoura gement, and unlimited support throughout the entire doctoral journey, this dissertation would not have been completed. Thanks also to my brilliant committee members Dr. Kara Viesca and Dr. Amy BoelÂŽ for your wisdom and insight that helped me deepen my app lication of theory in order to better analyze and understand my findings , and for not letting me stop until I was able to envision new possibilities. Special thanks to Dr. Nancy Commins for helping me to push through to more deeply believe in myself and b e brave. It took a lot for this committed practitioner dedicated to make change from within schools to embody the practices and voice of the scholar I have worked so hard to become. From my very first MA class to this doctorate , your mentorship and support has meant the world to me.

PAGE 8

i TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 1 ! Background ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 1 ! Statement of the Problem ................................ ................................ ............................... 2 ! Rationale and Purpose for the Study ................................ ................................ .............. 4 ! Research Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 5 ! Rationale for the Analysis Methodology ................................ ................................ ....... 5 ! Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ............................... 6 ! Definition of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 7 ! General Terminology ................................ ................................ ................................ 7 ! Organization of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 8 ! II. LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ................................ . 10 ! Strategic Planning for Systemic School Improvement ................................ ................ 10 ! Why Critical Sociocultural Theory ................................ ................................ .............. 11 ! Theoret ical Framework ................................ ................................ ................................ 12 ! Critical Sociocultural Theory ................................ ................................ .................. 12 ! Critical Social Theory in Education ................................ ................................ ........ 14 ! Sociocultural Theory of Learning ................................ ................................ ........... 15 ! Successful Schooling for Multilingual Learners ................................ .......................... 17 ! English Language Development ................................ ................................ ............. 18 ! Integrated Content and Language Practices ................................ ............................ 20 !

PAGE 9

ii Effective Pedagogy for Multilingual Learners ................................ ............................. 23 ! Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Approaches and a Critical Stance ......... 23 ! Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 24 ! III. METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 0 ! Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 0 ! Research Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 1 ! Research Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 2 ! Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 4 ! Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 5 ! Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 8 ! Document Analysi s ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 8 ! Interview Analysis. ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 10 ! Analysis of Messages and Ideologies Documents and Interviews ........................ 11 ! Review of the Literature of Successful Schooling for Multilingual Learners ........ 12 ! Ethics ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 13 ! Researcher Stance ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 15 ! Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 15 ! Summary of Methodology ................................ ................................ ........................... 16 ! IV. FINDINGS ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 18 ! Response to Research Question 1a: Content of Documents ................................ ........ 19 ! The Purpose and Problem Identified by Academic Strategic Plans ........................ 19 ! More Students Prepared for College, Career, and Community Life ....................... 21 ! Operationalizing Gap Closing Mandates Through Data Driven Practices ............. 23 !

PAGE 10

iii What ASP Documents Say About People Across the Organization ....................... 29 ! Response to Research Question 2a: Content of Interviews ................................ ......... 34 ! Participant P erspective on Roles, ASPs and MLL Performance ............................ 34 ! Challenges and Barriers ................................ ................................ .......................... 38 ! Interview Participant Ideas for Moving Forward ................................ .................... 44 ! Response to Research Questions 1b and 2b: Messages and Ideologies ....................... 45 ! Technicist Perspective ................................ ................................ ............................. 46 ! Messages About Schooling Practices and People ................................ ................... 48 ! Response to Research Question 3: Comparing Messages and Ideologies with Literature ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 54 ! Accountability ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 54 ! All/Every/Each ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 55 ! Excellence ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 56 ! Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 57 ! V. DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS ................................ ................................ .............. 0 ! Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 0 ! Implications For School Districts ................................ ................................ .................. 0 ! Theory of Action ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 2 ! Critical Stance ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 3 ! Language and Literacy Development/Instructional Conve rsation ............................ 4 ! Rigor/Contextualization/Challenging Activities ................................ ....................... 5 ! Reimagining An Academic Strategic Plan ................................ ................................ ..... 6 ! Practical Suggestions What Districts and Leaders Can Do Now ............................ 8 !

PAGE 11

iv Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 9 ! REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 10 ! APPENDIX ! A. D ocument Analysis Protocol For Academic Strategic Plans ................................ ............ 19 ! B. S ample Summary Table ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 0 ! C. C onsent Letter For Participants ................................ ................................ .......................... 0 !

PAGE 12

1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Background Accountability for performance has been growing throughout the public sector and perhaps nowhere more so than in public education. E quity as the primary justification for the clear focus on accountability and the standards, performance targets, assessments, and consequences has become established practice a t the federal, state, distri ct, and school levels (McDermott, 2011) . This increased emphasis on high stakes state testing as measure of the success of students (as part of graduation requirements), teachers and scho ol leaders (as part of their performance evaluation), and schools (as part of their school performance evaluation for the state) has resulted in the attribution of significant weight to the scores . Examining disaggregated scores by race, socioeconomic stat us, and language proficiency spotlights differences in the achievement of students of color, in poverty, and/or English learners in comparison to the scores of their White, middle to upper class, monolingual English sp eaking peers. This variability in outc ome has been identified on a range of measures in addition to test scores, including grade point average, rates of drop out, colleg e enrollment and completion . E liminating these achievement gap s has become the focus for improvement and reform of schools. T he language of achievement gaps typically identifies the source of the performance differences between individuals and groups based on characteristics of t he children, their homes, or their communities (Lareau, 2011; Rothstein, 2004; Valencia, 2015) . Op portunity gap language refers to the same differences on these various measurements but locates the source of the diffe rences to be based on systemic social inequalities and conditions within schools that result in a lack of resources, and therefore solutions to this problem are located within society and schools (Boykin &

PAGE 13

2 Noguera, 2011; Carter & Welner, 2013; Ladson Billings, 2006) Based on the idea that s uccess on these measures serves as a gateway to higher education and employment opportunities that support social and economic mobility for disadvantaged populations, achievement and o pportunity gap constructs have been widely adopted and serve as the basis for current school improvement and reform efforts. These constructs, however, are problematic, particularly for the multilingual learner populat ion at the center of this study . Sta tement of the Problem Increased attention is being paid again to districts as the central lever of school ref orm . As district level reform efforts have been developed and implemented over the past 15 years, districts have been re positioned to move from a perception of being "a bureaucratic backwater of educational policy to being seen as potent sites and sources of educational reform" (Hightower, Knapp, Marsh, & McLaughlin, 2002) . One current approach to district level school reform is the development of an Academic Strategic Plan (ASP) . Academic Strategic Plans are do cuments written towards goals to close academic achievement gaps and prepare all students for success in college and careers . Based on superintendent led collaborative strategic decision making (Brazer, Rich, & Ross, 2010; Conley, 1993) , ASPs by design provide measurable performance based criteria, with a clear focus on ends, results , and their consequences, including a value add focus on effectiveness and efficiency (Kaufman, 2018; Lane, Bishop, & Wilson Jones, 2013) . H igh stakes standardized test based accountability systems required by federal and state law (Fr‡nquiz & Ortiz, 2016; Sharp, 2016) are to measure progress towards mandated goals . Academic Strategic Plans are how some districts are organizing their efforts to instill these systems in order to better understand and address significant outcome discrepancy on t hese measures commonly named achievement

PAGE 14

3 and/or opportunity gaps (for examples see Boykin & Noguera, 2011; Carter & Welner, 2013; Darling Hammond, 2015; and Howard, 2010). Academic Strategic Plans state intentions to improve academic outcomes for cultural ly and linguistically diverse students , defined as closing academic achievement gaps and preparing all students to be college and career ready. The initiatives outlined in the Academic Strategic Plans may or may not be congruent with current definitions an d indicators of academic outcomes that achieve equity when enacted in real schools on the ground. Because the Academic Strategic Plan approach to district level systemic reform intends to improve schooling for underserved populations, and for this disserta tion study particularly multilingual learners , understanding the documents is important for school districts and researchers . The focus of this dissertation is specifically on understanding the A cademic S trategic P lan documents , particularly in light of t heir stated intention to close achievement gaps and increase the academic s uccess of multilingual learners. The multilingual learner population is diverse, comprised of students with a wide range of aspects of their identities though with a single commonal ity they are learners who navigate their daily expe riences in multiple languages. These two ASP documents focus on the particular subset of multilingual learners classified as E nglish L earner s (ELs) . EL is a federal classification of language status indic ating students' limited English proficiency and qualifying them with legal protection that requires equal access to grade level content as their fluently English speaking peers . The population labeled English learners is important because many of the Acade mic Strategic Plan efforts engage data driven decision making and ELs are a population for which data are collected and tracked locally, as well a s by state and federal agencies. The EL population is a subset of the

PAGE 15

4 multilingual population who, according t o how we currently measure achievement, are not achieving to standards and fall within the achievement g aps the plans state intention to eliminate. By engaging Ethnographic Content Analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013) , a model of Frame A nalysis (Benford & Snow, 2002; Creed, Langstraat, & Scully, 2002; Goffman, 1974) in this dissertation study, I seek to better understand th e messages and ideologies that underlie the problems and solutions around the success of the multilingual learner population that Academic Strategic Plans propose to solve. With clearer understandings of the existing plans I seek to also reimagine approach es to sch ooling that may continue to improve the schooling experiences and achievement of our multilingual learners . Rationale and Purpose for the Study Curious as to how current designs of schooling are similar or different from the societal factors that surround them, along with personal and professional experiences in schools, I noticed that Academic Strategic Plans were being used to determine current schooling practices, and schools that serve multilingual learners were experiencing varying levels of s uccess at reaching the goals of the plans. This dissertation study was then designed to look closely at conditions, initiatives, m essages and ideologies present in Academic Strategic Plans from two districts with similar large populations of the culturally and l inguistically diverse learners in order to understand how they are currently framed, and re imagine other possible frames. Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA) of documents and interviews potentially gives us a window into the ideological, cultural an d educational beliefs that underlie the plans . Empirical data from interviews with leaders whose role is to interpret and support schools to enact those plans potentially provides insight into how aligned the plans are to meeting the needs of the leaders, teachers and learners they are designed to support and engage.

PAGE 16

5 Research Questions In order to learn from successes and challenges inherent in this complex work, the following questions guide this study: 1. How are people and schooling practices represented i n district Academic Strategic Plan documents that purport to seek equitable outcomes for bilingual learners? a. What is/not named or discussed? b. What messages and ideologies are conveyed and how are they framed? 2. What perspectives do district leaders responsib le for interpreting and enacting Academic Strategic Plans express about bilingual learners and their teachers, as well as schooling practices and the work to meet the stated goals? a. What is/not named or discussed? b. What messages and ideologies are conveyed and how are they framed? 3. How do the frames, messages, and ideologies that underlie district Academic Strategic Plans reflect, or not, what is known from the professional literature around successful schooling for bilingual learners? Rationale for the Analy sis Methodology For this study I am using Ethnographic Content Analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013) , a specific form of Frame Analysis (Goffman, 1974) , to understand the messages and ideologies that underlie Academic Strategic Plans and the perspectives of those who work on the ground to enact them. Altheide and Schneider ( 2013) provided a compelling example of the power of framing to influence how we see problems and their solutions when they made the comparison to the opioid epidemic. When the opioid epidemic is approached framed from a criminal justice vs. a public health perspective there are differences in "what is discussed, how it is discussed and

PAGE 17

6 most importantly how it will not be discussed" (Altheide & Schneider, 2013 , p.52 ). Beliefs about addicts, methods to understand phenomena, approaches to solutions, and resou rces available are radically different as the same problem is approached wit hin each very different frame. As with the opioid epidemic , u nderstanding current and possible alternative frames for interpreting the Academic Strategic Plans may provide alternat ives or help reimagining additional approaches moving forward. Significance of the Study According to data from the U.S. Department of Education Migrant Policy Institute (MPI), the K 12 English language learner population in the US has seen dramatic growt h and is now present in all 50 states. For example, in school year 2012 13 in eleven states English Language Learners (ELLs) comprised 10 25% of the K 12 student population, in twenty one states 5 9.9% of the K 12 student population was comprised of ELLs, and in eighteen states 0 4.9% of the K 12 student population was comprised of ELLs. Table 1 Percentage of English Learners in the K 12 Population, 2012 2013 States with 10 25% States with 5 9.9% States with 0 4.9% California Idaho Montana Oregon ! Utah ! W yoming, ! Washington ! Arizona ! North Dakota ! Nevada Oklahoma South Dakota Alaska ! Nebraska ! Iowa ! Hawaii ! Arkansas ! Missouri ! Colorado Minnesota Louisiana New Mexico ! Illinois ! Mississippi ! Kansas ! Wisconsin ! Alabama ! Texas Indiana West Virginia Florida ! Michigan ! T ennessee ! ! Georgia ! Kentucky ! South Carolina West Virginia ! North Carolina ! Ohio ! ! Virginia ! Pennsylvania !

PAGE 18

7 Table 1 cont'd ! Maryland ! New Jersey ! ! Delaware ! Vermont ! ! Connecticut ! New Hampshire ! ! Rhode Island ! Maine ! ! Massachusetts ! ! ! New York ! ! (Hallock, Batalo va, 2015 ) This study is specifically focused on better understanding Academic Strategic Plans districts are constructing in response to the call for increased equ ity for this growing population and understanding the perspectives of the people enacting tho se plans specifical ly to improve academic outcomes. The ultimate goal is to understand where b oth are situated in light of research on successful schooling for multilingual learners . Definition of Terms Definitions of terms are included to facilitate an un derstanding of the overlapping terminology used in this study to describe the multilingual learner population. General Terminology Multilingual learners diverse students who operate in more than one language, regardless of the degree of profici ency in an y of their languages (Kieffer & Thompson, 2018) English languag e learners (ELLs) are the population of students who speak at least one additional language in their home and are categorically identified and tracked as a specific subgroup by their proficiency in English measured by language proficiency assessments. Also called English learners ( ELs), Emergent Bilinguals (EBs) ( Linquanti, Cook, Bailey, & MacDonald , 2016; GarcÂ’a, Kleifgen, & Falch i, 2008) Former ELs are the population of students who speak a language in addition to English, have achieved English proficiency according to federal and state requirements and have been redesignated as proficient in English . Upon redesignation from pro gramming these

PAGE 19

8 students no longer receive specialized separate English instruction classes, and their language proficiency is assessed and academic progress is monitored for four years. After monitoring students are considered exited and are no longer trac ked separately from the general population (Umansky, 2016) Ever ELs is the population of multilingual students who are currently considered English learners or Former ELs and importantly change the results of Ôachievem e nt gap' analysis as this inclusive population breaks the "gap that can't go away" when English Learners are compared with English Only students. The presence of reclassified English learners in the Ever EL population allows the academic achievement of multilingual learners to be seen beyond their acquisition of English proficiency (Saunders & Marcelletti, 2012) Organization of the Study In order to achieve the goals of this study in response to the Research Questi ons above, the study is organized in the following way. In this chapter, I outlined the problem under investigation and the goal of the study. Chapter I also includes the research question and key definitions. In Chapter II, I provid e d a review of the lite rature about the Academic Strategic Plan Approach, Critical Sociocultural Theory, and Successful Schooling for Multilingual Learners. The goal of analysis of documents, interviews, and research is to better understand how Academic Strategic Plans in these two districts are or could be providing the conditions for success of multilingual learners . Chapter III describes the research design and methodology Frame Analysis (Goffman, 1974) and the particular model Ethnographic Content Analysis (Altheide & Schneid er, 2013) . Chapter IV provides the findings in response to all three Research Questions presenting 1) the content of Academic Strategic Plan documents , 2) the content of

PAGE 20

9 interviews, and 3) the inter relation between the content of documents, interviews, an d the literature of successful schooling of multilingual learners . Finally, in Chapter V I provide d recommendations for school districts and future research in light of the findings and frames.

PAGE 21

10 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW This review of literature foc uses on three topics: first describing the Academic Strategic Plan approach, second a review of Critical Sociocultural Theory, and finally a review around successful schooling for multilingual learners focused on English language development and integrated content language practices , and effective pedagogy . Strategic Planning for Systemic School Improvement Academic Strategic Plans comprise one current approach to strategic planning for systemic school improvement. The initiatives outlined in the Academic S trategic Plans may or may not be congruent with current definitions and indicators of academic outcomes that achieve equity when enacted in real schools on the ground (Kaufman, 2018; Lane et al., 2013; Rutherford, 2003) . Academic Strategic Plans are situated within an historical reality in which federal and state policy requires high stakes standardized test based accountability systems (Fr‡nquiz & Ortiz, 2016; Sharp, 2016) . There is significant outcome discrepancy on these measures between groups based on race/ethnicity, socioeconomic, gender, and language . In common language and in sc holarship, t hese discrepancies are named achievement and/or opportunity gaps (for exam ples see Boykin & Noguera, 2011; Carter & Welner, 2013; Darling Hammond, 201 5 ; Howard, 2010) . Previous research has shown a range of philosophies and pra ctices adopted in school reform to address unequal student performance. Academic Strategic Plans state intentions to improve academic outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse students defined as closing academic achievement gaps and preparing all students to be college and career ready.

PAGE 22

11 The development of an Academic Strategic Plan is a collaborative strategic decision making process that districts engage in to organize their approach to improving their schools (Brazer et al., 2010; Lane et al., 2013) . The outcome of the planning process are publicly published documents that districts create that outline their vision, mission, goals, and initiatives that the y have formulated to in order t o address equity in education for all students , and can range in quality and effectiveness (Lane et al., 2013; Strunk, Marsh, Bush Mecenas, & Duque, 2016) . ASPs include specific and explicit goals in response to federal mandates that they close academic achievement gaps between White students and students of color, English learners, and students experiencing poverty, as measured by yearly standardized tests. Why Critical Sociocultural Theory I began with a curiosity as to how current conditions of schools are similar to or different from the soci etal conditions that surround them, combined with my own personal and prof essional experiences in schools. I noticed that Academic Strategic Plans were being used to determine current schooling practices, and schools that serve multilingual learners were e xperiencing varying levels of success at reaching the goals of the plans. By a pplying a lens of critical sociocultural theory , I sought to better understand the content, messages and ideologies Academic Strategic Plan documents contain (RQ1), perspectives of people implementing the plans (RQ2), and how this compares to literature from a critical sociocultural perspective on successful schooling for multilingual learners (RQ3) . Using critical sociocultural theory to examine the content of Academic Strategic Plans (ASPs) and the perspectives of interview participants as they provided their thoughts on the ASPs, I have the potential to make visible the challenges and barriers to implementing them. Using critical theory allows me to make visible issues of power , language, and approaches to

PAGE 23

12 education that serve to either liberate or oppress those within systems (Freire, 1970) and rec ognize how ideologies of A cademic S trategic P lan s constrain or expand possibilities . By identifying tensions evident, particularly from interview participants as they navigate understanding and imple menting the plans in light of disconnects they see in their day to day experiences with teachers and learners in schools, I uncover ways learners and schooling practices are situated and identify how Academic Strategic Plans, and the messages and ideologie s beneath them, operate to determine how successful schooling is described for multilingual learners. Theoretical Framework The the oretical framework for this dissertation is based on critical sociocultura l theory (Lewis, Enciso, & Moje, 2007; Teemant, 2018) which is derived and expanded from critical social theory (Bourdieu, 1991; Freire, 1970) , and sociocultural theory (Rogoff, 2003; Vygotsky & Cole, 1978) . Critical Sociocultural Theory Critical sociocultural theory (Lewis, Enc iso & Moje, 2007; Teemant, 2018) offers a rec onceptualization of sociocultural theory that focuses on the cognitive, cultural, and relational nature of learning within the social, political, and historical context in which learning happens that a critical lens brings . This duality offers a new set of lenses and tools that can be used to understand how power, identity, and agency operate as aspects of learning literacy (Lewis et al., 2007) . Po int ing to Foucault's (1980, 1984) theories of power as "productive" and a result of interactions and relationships, as opposed to an "entity" that can be posses sed, desired, and/or resisted, Moje and Lewis speak to how p ower plays out in questions of how knowledge, information, interactive structures, and lan guage are used and the resulting manner in which

PAGE 24

13 school is presented. Who holds power (makes decisions, determines what counts, and sets timelines) shifts what is possible for learning and positions teachers and students in particular manners. Drawing from Lave (1996) and Gee (2001) , Moje and Lewis (2007) describe learning as "shifts in identity" (p. 19) in which learners not only internalize and use knowledge and skills, but adopt degrees of the disciplinary discourse practices within which the knowledge a nd skills operate (separate from joining the profession.) These shifts of identity that can be enacted within and across communities involve awareness for the learner of the dynamic nature of discourse communities and the manner in which individuals can ga in membership (or be marginalized). Moje and Lewis (2007) further describe the chances for participation within learning spaces as " opportunities to learn " (p. 21) and bring to light the requirements and supports necessary for learners to engage agency wit hin learning activities. Working specifically to "unsettle the status quo of injustices for multilingual and multicultural (MLMC) students , " Teemant (2018) builds on a body of conceptual and empirical work around soci ocultural theories of pedagogy in teach er preparation , in particular the Five Standards of Effective Pedagogy (Tharp, 2000) . Studies by Teemant et al. (2014) and Teemant (2013) revealed that the Five Standards Coaching Model supported immediate and one year later sustained change, and when tight ly implemented also led to student achievement g ains (Teemant & Hausman, 2010) . In response to findings that teachers were finding it challenging to contextualize classroom learning from within lived experiences of their minority students, Teemant, Leland , and Berg hoff (2013) recognized the need for and developed a new measureable principle of learning Critical Stance. Critical Stance provides explicit manners in which teachers can engage learners in questioning, reflecting, and challenging inequities within their immediate schools and communities and in practice engage in critical pedagogies (Duncan

PAGE 25

14 Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Freire, 1970) that focus learning on the co construction of knowledge, in spaces of participation, u se of student background knowledge within the social and political contexts specific to the community. Critical Social Theory in Education Critical social theory in education (Bourdieu, 1991; Bourdieu & Passerson, 1977; Freire, 1970; McLaren & Kinchloe, 2007) brings a lens that focuses on social justice and e quity issues that impact society and schooling, particularly around cultural, social, and symbolic capital, cultural reproduction and dynamics of power in society, and in a mi crocosm of society, schools. Academic Strategic Plan documents and the perspectiv es of those supporting schools to implement them determine what gets included or excluded from schooling practices and the material ways in which those practices are enacted ; the degree to which they are responsive to the ways language, power, and culture are embodied ; and ultimately what "counts" for success in school. For the success of multilingual learners in particular in this dissertation study, I drew fr om Bourdieu and Passeron's (1977 ) assertions that language is both 1) a tool for communication la nguage, dialect and accent and 2) a mechanism of power determining whose voice is included, who has the "right" to speak, to be listened to, or to interrupt. Using Freire's (1970 ) concept of the banking model of education where knowledge is static, stude nts are "containers" and "receptacles" whose agency allows for organizing and cataloging of the information, but knowledge is seen as a gift "bestowed" by the knowledgeable to those who "know nothing" makes visible problems with the particular approach to learning in these two Academic Strategic Plans. I define d the approach to learning as found in these documents as the elements that position learning as mastery of external standards and the discrete point

PAGE 26

15 accountability systems in place to track and ensur e every student achieves to these ends. This importantly keeps the focus of schooling on banking progress towards standardized goals , which in turn limits activity in school to prioritize these future facing ends. I argue d this limits the scope of daily wo rk and makes little room for "critical consciousness" development and in so doing, ultimately is resulting in schooling as an oppressive practice, and schools as a locale of "social reproduction," not "social transformation" (Freire, 2000). Sociocultural Theory of Learning Sociocultural Learning Theorie s (Rogoff, 2012; Vygotsky & Cole, 1978) describ e learning as social, knowledge as cultural, and suggest that learning develops through interactions that build from the known to the new and are dependent on negotiation with more knowledgeable others. These theories begin with the assumption that learnin g is situated in everyday social contexts and that learning involves changes in participation in activity settings or communities, rather than the individual acquisition of abstract concepts separate from interact ion and experience , thus identifying learni ng as an apprenticeship process (Rogoff, 1995). Origins. The historical origins of s ociocultural theory can be tied initially to Vygotsky and his work in Russian psychology during the early 20 th century in response to the behaviorist and individualistic b eliefs about learning of the time. Vygotsky's work emphasized the ways learning occurs within a broader social system , is a direct product of social interaction and the enculturation of concepts built together, and that individual and social processes in l earning and development are interdependent ( Vygotsky & Cole, 1978; Wertsch, 1991) . Building on Vygotskian tradition, scholars have expanded the original desc ription and explanation of learning within individual and community contexts, and developed new strands that share a view of human interaction as mediated by systems of language and symbols within

PAGE 27

16 specific cultural and historical contexts , i.e ., cultural n ature of development (Rogoff, 2003) and communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991 ) . Through the c ommon central tenets of sociocultural theory provided in the above body of literature, particularly : a clear focus on interaction, situ ated within participation (and the histories of participation that accompany the learner into new interactions) , the mediating role of the more experienced other, and all of this occurring intentionally within communities of practice; sociocultural theory provides a specific lens through which we can understand how learning operates in social contexts. I n so doing we can identify critical elements that must be present in schooling practices and the systems and structures that organize the activity systems o f schools (and by extension , districts) to promote learning. Academic Strategic Plans contain specific information as to how schools are to be organized ; how teaching and learning are to operate at the organizational (district office), school, and classro om level ; identify specific goals and targets for improvement ; and provide descriptions of how districts will know when they have met their goals. Using sociocultural theory to examine what is and is not operationalized in ASPs I can locate the systems and structures that determine how human interaction, language and symbols, and communities are being constructed and identify elements that can serve as avenues or barriers to the success of the goals of the Academic Strategic Plans. Mediational Tools. T he u se of me diational tools (Vygotsky & Kozulin, 1986; Vygotsky & Cole, 1978) , the artifacts or objects that support learning within guided interaction between more and less knowledgeable participants, are central components that allow for meaning t o be negotiated from within those experiences. These tools, the concrete or ideational content that is used to guide, interpret, or otherwise influence the content of the experiences in which meaning is negotiated , are central to the learning experience. In addition to describing the practices

PAGE 28

17 within schools that sociocultural theory can help bring to light, Academic Strategic Plans may operate as meditational tools across stakeholder groups that might aid in understanding the approaches and expectations the district has for running itself. ASPs provide a mission and vision, a central set of core beliefs, and then action steps by which to achieve specific goals . This provides a common set of practices that are set forth as guidelines and tactics that are t o be used to ensure equal access to learning and therefore ensure all students achieve. Recognizing that ASP documents are created and presented as roadmaps of local policy that determines how everyday practices of schooling are to happen within and across district schools, they can be seen as mediating tools that are designed to assist learners (in this case the district personnel, school leaders, and teachers) to provide schooling for the students in their care. Successful Schooling for Multilingual Lea rners Multilingual learners (students who speak at least one language in addition to English in their homes) make up roughly 1 in 5 public school students in the US, and about half of the students are currently developing language proficiency in English (Cimpian, Thompson, & Makowski, 2017) . Drawing from the body of literature from the last 10 years around the successful schooling for multilingual learners I focus on three core foci of research: 1) English language development, 2) Integrated content language practices, and 3) Effective pedagogy. Research show s that t he equity of a ccess and outcomes for English learners (ELs) is variable. A review of the most recent (2012 18) meta analyses and existing reviews of literature resulted in seven studies that inform this dissertation study . Two studies (Goldenberg, 2014 ; Scanlan & Lopez, 2012) focus on the overall body of resear ch on recommended practices. Goldenberg, focusing on English learners specifically, finds that what we know about effective instruction in general is good for English learners as well, that a dditional instructional supports

PAGE 29

18 are needed, particularly at earlier levels of language proficiency, but that there is no published empirical peer reviewed research available on the effects of existing scaffolding practices recommended in conceptual works. He also finds that home language can promote academic development and that this is not dependent on particular programming models but can be a support for academic concept and language development, particularly home language reading. E nglish L anguage D ev elopment Classification and r eclassification . States and distri cts currently use different criteria for i nitial classification (identification of a student as an English learner that triggers the provision of English development services) a nd reclassification (the process through which students' language proficiency is determined to be sufficient to no longer need language specific services) and these criteria continue to change over time (Abedi, 2008; Linquanti , 2001; Thompson, Umamsky & Re ardon, 2014 ) . Efforts made to develop a framework for a common English learner definition and identify clear and consistent criteria for classification decisions are intended to address the inequities attributed to the variation of these policies and provi de clear guidance forward for more equitable assessment and programming for these learners ( Cimpian, Thompson & Markowski, 2017; Estrada & Wang, 2018, Linquanti, Cook, Bailey, Macdonald, 2015 ; Robinson Cimpian & Thompson, 2016 ). Classification and a chievement g aps . T he impact of removing reclassified students from achievement comparison a nd only comparing ELs and EOs has potential for researchers and educational professionals to draw misleading conclusions such as underestimating the popula tion, overestimating the gap s, and decreasing likelihood to detect progress and as a result there are significant implications for policy and practice (Hopkins, Thompson, Linquanti, August, & Hakuta, 2013; Saunders & Marcelle tti, 2012) . There is an assumption underlying

PAGE 30

19 current test based accountability systems that performance on the assessments, particularly achievement to particular benchmarks that are seen to be equally achievable across population subgroups, is a fair an d accurate measure of what students know and can do. The multilingual learner population, particularly those learning English simultaneously with content and expected to demonstrate knowledge and skills similarly to their monolingual English peers, has muc h to offer in critiquing current expectations. "English language learning is a complex system, holistic, nonlinear, and is constantly evolving; however, current assessment practices do not address this complexity " ( Pappamihiel & Walser, 2009, p. 133 ) . The need for "nuanced, meaningful accountability policies" (Hopkins et al . , 2013) is made clear in the r ecommendations for ESEA reauthorization (ESSA) to more fully account for EL (and other subgroup) performance and provide more authentic ways for students ac ross subgroups to demonstrate knowledge and skills, and schools to be accountable for educating them beyond the "gap" framework. Samson and Lesaux (2015) further emphasize d the need for more nuanced understandings of the factors that impact language minori ty students' educational outcomes as they examine d the factors beyond language that potentially impact schooling and result in the underperformance typically attributed to language differences but that extend beyond that: race, gender, SES, urbanicity, and teacher characteristics including but not limited to experience and education levels. Further considering the condition of schools and the impact on student performance , Dixon et al . (2012) added to the discussion with a review of literature to identify t he impact of optimal conditions, facilitative characteristics of learners and teachers, and speed of language acquisition on learning .

PAGE 31

20 Integrated Content and L anguage P ractices In the era of the Common Core standards init i atives and the high stakes test ac countability systems that undergird current district practices in line with federal and state requirements, multilingual learners are situated within a particular fundamental challenge . Multilingual learners are somewhere along the continuum of learning co ntent and the language through which that content is predominantly taught and assessed, and this greatly influences their opportunities to learn and the potential for successful evaluation of the knowledge and skills acquired if not expressed fluently in E nglish. "Nothing in the CCSS demands that learning is in, through, or about English. What the CCSS does require is that students ' think critically, read analytically, and use language in sophisticated ways ' " (Klein, in Valdes, Menken & Castro, 2015, p. 32) . It is critical to consider that the requirements can be met in the language a student best knows and speaks, and that using their full linguistic repertoire provides students better chances to fully engage with the standards, particularly students newest to English. The explicit and implicit academic language and literacy demands of the standards bring challe nge for all students, but especially for ELs as they are learning the langu a ge of instruction while engaging with and processing content at grade le vel . This indicates a need to specifically prepare both pre service and in service teachers with different pedagogical knowledge and skills, not only for specialized langua ge instruction (often called ESL or ELD) but also for grade level subject specific i nstruction as well (Bunch, 2013; Johnson & Wells, 2017; Kibler et al . , 2015). Recognizing that success in high school mathematics courses often serves as a gatekeeper for graduation from high school, matriculation and ultimately success in post secondary e ducational options, Thompson (2017) conducted a mixed methods study to explore math c ourse taking patterns in secondary school through an Ever EL lens . Findings included evidence

PAGE 32

21 that institutional (course assignment), classroom (ways of knowing), and indi vidual (motivation) factors influenced students' course taking patterns (including repeated courses with little evidence of additional learning) and resulted in significant gaps in English learner mathematics success . In the effort to support English lear ners' success in these standards based achievement efforts, specific academic behaviors have been identified by language domain (speaking/listening, reading, and writing) as a way of considering the skills required by CCSS for students acquiring language p roficiency (Bunch, Kibler & Pimentel, 2012). Recognizing language as a "complex adaptive system of communicative purposes" (van Lier & Walqui, 2012) brings an additional shift of perspective and further clarity on what is required of English learners to en gage with and successfully achieve to these standards based learning and assessment goals and ultimately close these gaps in performance. "In the absence of an explicit focus on language, students from certain social class backgrounds continue to be privil eged and others to be disadvantaged in learning, assessment, and promotion perpetuating the obvious inequalities that exist today" (Schleppegrell, 2004 , p. 3 ). Kibler et al . (2015) call for us to see the challenges inhere nt for ELs engaging with instructio n to these standards as a "valuable transformative opportunity for the profession" when they draw attention to the direct statements in the ELA standards that state that it is "beyond the scope" of the standards to detail appropriate supports for English l earners or students with special needs, but that the responsibility of providing all students the "opportunity to learn and meet the same high standardsÉ without displaying native like control of conventions and vocabulary" (CCSSI, 2010, p. 6).

PAGE 33

22 Kibler et al . (2015) also raise issues of text complexity, new cognitively demanding ideas and concepts en countered within text, and the presumed reality that many students have had limited prior experience with these materials and the sk ills to navigate them. "For ELLs reading in a language that, by definition, they are still in the process of acquiring, these issues are particularly acute" (p.12). The implications are broad for recognizing that s peaking and listening standards require specific attention to the con nection between oral language development and reading and writing, and will entail the purposeful integration of listening and speaking skills into regular classroom practice (Deguay et al . , 2013; August & Shanahan, 2006) . Considering reading w ith the shi ft requiring closer alignment to NAEP text types (e.g. informational text as 50% in 4 th , 55% in 8 th , and 70% in 12 th ) English Language Arts and content area classrooms will need to provide textual resources through which students can develop content knowle dge and language skills, particularly if the components o f the text and language itself are specifically addressed (Deguay et al . , 2013 ). As this is a shift from traditionally dominant fictional literature , educators will also need to attend to increased d emand in textual complexity , which is challenging for native speakers and will require specific attention for multilingual students along the continuum of acquiring English as they engage with this content. And in writing focusing again on better alignmen t to NAEP, in addition to analysis of college and career writing expectations (National Governor's Association, 2010), argumentation has been det ermined the predominant focus of oral language and writing standards. Specific instruction and exploration of a rgumentation patterns, genres, disciplinary contexts, and language for specific academic purposes will be necessary for students to master the variation of communication structures argumentation entails.

PAGE 34

23 Effective Pedagogy for Multilingual Learners The po pulation of culturally and linguistically diverse students speaking more than one language has grown in US public schools, and they are predicted to soon outpace the numbers of their majority culture monolingual English speaking peers (OELA, 2016) . Beyond the scope of this review but important to acknowledge is the growing body of research on the b roader context that surrounds pedagogical considerations focusing on factors beyond individual experiences, presenting a picture of the intersectional institutional and societal disadvantages that complicate understanding underperformance and disparate ed ucational outcomes of students , and expand ing the potential solutions generated so that schools can be more effective at expanding opportunities (Nevarez La Torre, 2012 ; Poza, 2015 ; Samson & Lesaux, 2015). This review focuses on school and classroom factor s that comprise teaching and learning practices which have potential to support the language development and academic achievement of the multilingual learner popula tion as this will then be compared to the practices as identified from the two Academic Stra tegic Plans that are the focus of this dissertation study . Culturally and L inguistically R esponsive A pproaches and a C ritical S tance Gloria Ladson Billings' landmark paper "Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy" (1995) "addresses student achievement whil e helping students affirm their cultural identity while developing critical perspectives that challenge inequities that schools (and other institutions perpetuate)" (p. 469 ) . This work on culturally responsive pedagogy (Cazden & Leggett, 1976; Gay 2000) ha s laid a foundation for teaching and learning practices in classrooms that counter deficit perspectives and seek to build on the assets and Funds of Knowledge (Moll, Amanti, Neff & Gonzales, 1992) that comprise students' whole identities. Tharp, Estrada, D alton & Yamauchi's (2000) vision of excellence, fairness, inclusion, and harmony via their Standards for

PAGE 35

24 Effective Pedagogy within the classroom provide explicit structure for students' learning language and academic content simultaneously. The Standards e stablish collaborative structures where students and teachers work together to accomplish tasks and goals, provide explicit and direct teaching of language and literacy needed for the complex thinking and learning within those collaborations, connect class room learning to real life lived experiences of students and contextualization within students ' background knowledge, teach complex thinking through challenging activities, and make space for teaching and learning through instructional conversation. This, when combined with Teemant, Leland and Berghoff's (2014) efforts to "translate critical pedagogy into comprehensible, intentional, and measurable teacher practice" (p.1) has the potential for transformational schooling practices to counter injustices withi n and surrounding these communities. Through their development of a scale of Critical Stance, Teemant et al . (2014) make observable the intentional practices teachers can use to connect school learning and students' lives. Anchored in critical theor ies (G iroux, 1988; McLaren, 1989 ), these critical pedagogy practices urge teachers to move beyond providing school knowledge alone (Freire, 1994) and take direct aim at disrupting pervasive educational, economic, and structural inequities through their work in t he day to day classroom with minority students. Summary In this review of the literature I dr e w from the well established and broad range of r esearch on the needs, challenges, and potential of multilingual learners in school . Using a critical sociocultura l lens (Lewis, Enciso & Moje, 2007; Teemant, 2018) I focus ed on three core bodies of literature : 1) English language development, 2) Integrated content language pract ices, and 3) Effective pedagogy in order to establish an understanding of the research as a basis for

PAGE 36

25 comparison to the recommendations for schooling practices as described in the two Academic Strategic Plan documents in this dissertation study .

PAGE 37

0 CHAPTER III M ETHODOLOGY Overview I conducted an analysis of two metropolitan school district Academ ic Strategic Plan (ASP) documents and interviews of sc hool district personnel using Altheide and Schneider's (2013) Ethnographic Content Analysis model of Frame Analysis (Goffman, 1974) . T he goal of the study was to better understand the messages and ideologies tha t comprise the frames that underlie these two Academic Strategic Plans in comparison with current research on increasing equitable outcomes for multilingual learners in school . Data collection involved accessing district ASP documents publicly available on line and recording interviews with district level personnel who interpret and support the implementation of ASPs and opt in to be interviewed, at their convenience. When it was determined that interview data could not be collected from the third dist rict within the data collection window, the study focused just on the first two. Data analysis consisted of a systematic review of each document for content, then an analysis of the content of the districts together for messages and ideologies evident, fo llowed by interview analysis to understand how the messages and ideologies are taken up or resisted in the day to day enactment of these plans. The analysis process was recursive between documents, between interviews, and finally between documents and inte rviews to understand content, themes and ultimately the messages and ideologies that underlie the plans. Next, the findings from these analyses were viewed through the lens of critical sociocultural theory (Lewis et al., 2007; Teemant, 2018) to determine what literature of the past 10 years has identified as conditions for successful schooling of bilingual learners.

PAGE 38

1 In conclusion, Academic Strategic Plans are reimagined as to how they could be resit uated to more effectively operationalize emancipatory and social justice goals and thus lay groundwork for a new vision of schooling conditions in which multilingual learners, and all students, can thrive. The findings of the study are primarily t o contribute to the knowledge base of current school district level reform efforts intended to improve equitable outcomes for multilingual learners . Additionally it is hoped that individual districts could apply the findings to their own reform efforts to continuously improve policies and practices that impact this historically underserved population. Research Questions To better understand the content and language used to describe education change efforts in publicly available district written Academic Str ategic Plans in large metropolitan districts with high numbers of mult ilingual learners, I ask ed the following questions: 1) How are schooling practices represented in district Academic Strategic Plan documents that purport to seek equitable outcomes for mult ilingual learners? ! What is/not named or discussed? ! What messages and ideologies are conveyed and how are they framed? 2) What perspectives do district leaders responsible for interpreting and enacting Academic Strategic Plans express about mult ilingual learn ers and their teachers, as well as schooling practices and the work to meet the stated goals? ! What is/not named or discussed? ! What messages and ideologies are conveyed and how are they framed? 3) How do the frames, messages, and ideologies that underlie dist rict Academic Strategic Plans reflect, or not, what is known from the professional literature a round successful

PAGE 39

2 schooling for mult ilingual learners? Research Methodology The approach to data collection, doc ument, and interview analysis was to use the Ethno graphic Content Analysis (ECA) Method (Altheide & Schneider, 2013). The development of ECA "was influenced by an awareness by many researchers that simply studying the content of mass media was not enough; it was also important to be aware of the process, meanings, and emphases reflected in the content, including discursive practices" (Altheide & Schneider, 2013, p. 2). Discursive practices (Bacchi & Bonham, 2014) as developed by Foucault, are the ways in which power is asserted through the use of language. Frame analysis (Adams, 2015; Benford & Snow, 2000; Goffman, 1974) is a methodology used to interpret, organize and identify structures that underlie communication and action of individuals and groups, and "is not just a technique for making sense of compl ex discourses, but an invitation to re enter, or admit being part of, a politicized project that has far reaching implications for people's lives" (Creed et al . , 2002, p. 53) . ECA is also a form of frame analysis and served to guide a recursive and reflexi ve process of systematically but not rigidly sampling, collecting, coding, and analyzing data in response to the above research questions. Data collected for this dissertation study began with exploration around a specific interest of the researcher on 1) schooling practices for multilingual learners, and 2) local policies and practices and how they were being enacted. Confirming that Academic Strategic Plans were indeed an approach for many districts so this level of document would serve as the appropriate unit of analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013, p. 39), a document collection and selection process was followed to narrow to three districts' documents. Altheide and Schneider (2013) describe that in ECA "documents are studied to understand culture or the process and the array of

PAGE 40

3 objects, symbols, and meanings that make up the social reality shared by members of a society" (p.5). Because the culture and social realities of districts are complex and complicated, the decision to also interview personnel w as made to bring additional dimension human perspective to the data set . To identify interview participants, criteria were developed, district organizational charts examined, and identified district personnel were invited to participate in the study. Data analysis comprised of E CA practices including upfront identifying categories and variables to initially guide the data analysis, knowing that in the process of conducting a descriptive and narrative analysis of the discourse within these documents other c ategories are expected to emerge. ECA is specifically oriented in order to "check and supplement as well as supplant prior theoretical frames" (Altheide & Schneider, 2013, p. 26). To build off initial analysis of content in to analysis of messages, ideol ogies, and frames, MAXQDA Summary Tables (similar to data display matr ices from Miles, Huberman & Salda–a, 2015) were constructed to examine clusters of related codes and identify themes within documents, and then within interviews, and finally to identify the messages and ideologies that ultimately create the frames that determine how policies around schooling practices for multilingual learners are discussed within Academic Strategic Plans . Through this method I s ought to better understand elements that s upport and/or contradict the equity goals of the Academic Strategic Plans . Comparing and contrasting the findings of the analysis of the messages and ideologies within and across documents have potential to deepen understandings of the frames that underlie the plans. The findings from the analyses were compared and contrasted to 2008 2018 research literature around what is successful schooling for bilingual learners . The comparison of this study's findings with findings from the field

PAGE 41

4 contribute knowledge a s to ways the District Academic Strategic Plans support and/or detract from educational reform to equitable ends for bilingual learners. Research D esign To answer these research questions , data w ere collected from district Academic Strategic Plans and int erviews with district personnel. Following the Ethnographic Content Analysis model , an analysis of multiple Academic Strategic Plan documents and video recorded interviews was engaged in a recursive cyclical process that involved initial analysis by docume nt and interview, then returning to previously analyzed documents and/or interviews with new codes found in later documents and interviews in order to best understand the data set as a whole. Table 2. Data Collection Timeline Month Study Activities Data Co llection Technique June July 2018 Collection and analysis of Academic Strategic Plans from 2 districts Secure district IRB for interviews Accessed publicly on the internet June Sept. 2018 Interviews with District Personnel Scheduled by email/phone and c onducted via Zoom Table 3 . Data Analysis Timeline Month Study Activities Data Analysis Technique July Sept 2018 Frame Analysis of Academic Strategic Plan documents interview recordings Ethnographic content analysis (Altheide & Schneider, 2013 ) Oct 201 8 Comparison of document and interview findings to empirical and theoretical research on successful schooling for bilingual learners Summary Grid and Summary Tables (MAXQDA) Jan 2019 Distribution of findings with District teams

PAGE 42

5 Data Collection Distric t s election. To identify the focus districts for Academic Strategic Plan analysis demographic data w ere collected on 10 mid sized metropolitan school districts that are using Academic Strategic Plans to guide school improvement. The demographic summary fro m the Today's Promise, Tomorrow's Future Report (Simon et al . , 2011) about the outcomes of Hispanics in urban schools was consulted to gain perspective on potential districts to study. This report was used to identify the total number of students and schoo ls in districts serving large num bers of ELs, and this revealed that district size ranged from 10,000 to over a 1,000,000 students. Considering the likelihood that districts with larger percentages of English learners would be more likely to be actively at tending to language and achievement in their Academic Strategic Plans as a factor, districts serving the largest percentage of English Learners (EL) were identified to further narrow the field of potential districts. Ultimately a population focus was deter mined districts with a total size of between ~ 60,000 to 100,000 students of which between ~ 25 and 35% are identified as EL would be considered for the study. District websites were accessed to confirm that current demographics continue to fit, confirm tha t written Academic Strategic Plans were available and currently being implement ed. District organizational charts were consulted to fit, and to confirm departments specifically focused on English learners th at included personnel responsib le for supporting the implementation of the ASP . Through this process six potential districts were identified . Further criteria narrowed the field to three districts that were regionally distinct and from different states to increase the chances of multi state applicability of the findings. Data collection techniques. Following the Ethnographic Content Analysis model, data collection comprised two sources: 1) Academic Strategic Plans and 2) video recorded 30 minute

PAGE 43

6 interviews. District Academic Strategic Plans were gathered online from district websites or provided by district level sponsors of the study (IRB agreements with the districts required a district authority who internally approved the study) . Interviews were conducted with central office district leaders whose role is to support schools to implement their district's Academic Strategic Plans specifically from the standpoint of supporting multilingual learners. Interviews were conducted and recorded via Zoom. Interview participants had a range of expertise and all had knowledge and engagement with a subset of district schools and were able to speak to the demographics, academic performance, struggles and successes of their school leaders, teachers, students, and communities . Interviews focused on avenues and barriers t hese leaders perceive around the lived experiences of school improvement and improved outcomes for multilingual learners at the school level. Interview questions explored the particular focus in Academic Strategic Plan goals that specify addressing what wa s identified as a central problem Achievement or Opportunity Gaps. Interview p articipant r ecruitment. The focus population for interviews in this study are district level instructional leaders whose role is to interpret and support implementation of the A cademic Strategic Plans, particularly in light of their role supporting multilingual learners. In each of three districts , contact lists for potential participants were made after consulting with personnel in the Research and Evaluation department instrume ntal to the district IRB approval process or at the recommendation of academic professionals who had existing relationships with people in the departments serving multilingual learners in these specific districts. Participants from District 1 and District 2 responded. While initial contact was made with both research and multilingual learner department personnel in District 3, there was no response to attempts to develop a specific contact list and the pursuit of participation from this district ended here . For

PAGE 44

7 District 1 and District 2, once the init i al contact list was made , each potential participant was emailed directly with a brief overview of the study, request for participation, brief bio of the researcher, and draft interview questions for their cons ideration. Three out of the six potential participants responded from District 1, and five out of the six potential participants responded from District 2 for a total of eight interview participants. Interviews to be held and recorded in the online platfor m Zoom were scheduled at participants' convenience. Interview questions. Interview questions were developed with the goal of understanding the perspectives of district personnel wh o knew the plans and potential avenues and barriers to the success of the pl ans. Interviews were conducted via Zoom and video was recorded for the purpose of analysis. Each interview took between 25 and 35 minutes. The following questions were approved by the CU Denver IRB and distr ict IRB prior to any interviews: 1) Please tell m e a bit about your position, specifically your responsibilities in light of enacting the Academic Strategic Plan . What is your role specific to the achievement of multilingual learners? 2) How do you see multilingual learners performing in your district? What are some areas of strength? What are some areas of challenge? 3) What structures and/or systems currently in place do you think are already or have the potential best support school leaders and teachers of multilingual learners to achieve the goals of the strategic plans? What do you think might serve as existing or potential barriers? 4) From your perspective , what are potential ideas (and/or existing future plans) that could build on those strengths? And potential ideas (and/or existing future plan s) to address those barriers? 5 ) Is there anything else you would like to share with me?

PAGE 45

8 Interview questions, along with a brief biography were sent ahead of time by email and were used to solicit perspectives from each interview participant . Data Analysi s Document Analysis First p ass c oding . Data analysis was initiated in response first to Research Question 1a: How are schooling practices represented in districts' Strategic Plan documents that purport to seek equitable outcomes? What is/not named or dis cussed? Academic Strategic Plan documents were uploaded into MAXQDA, a data analysis software program . Documents were read multiple times to familiarize with content and get a sense of the documents as Ôwholes'. Documents were then read using the Da ta Anal ysis Protocol (Appendix A ) as a guide . This Data Analysis Protocol contained a brief summary of the purpose of Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA), Research Questions, and a series of questions designed to explore the content of Academic Strategic Plans in response to Research Question 1 about documents. This protocol was then tested on non study publicly accessible Academic Strategic plans to confirm that the protocol prompts effectively drew out the discourse of the plans before use in this study . The pro cess of using the protocol on the Academic Strategic Plans was at first highly systematic each question was held in mind as the documents were read, and initial codes describing the content were assigned to segments of the document. The initial question " What is the content and organization of these Academic Strateg ic Plans?" generated the codes Vision/Mission, and Core Beliefs/Values, Demographic Data, and Implementation Plan. The second question "What is the problem and how is it defined ? " generated the codes Problem, Achievement Gap and Opportunity Gap. The next question "How are multilingual learners represented?" and sub questions "Words used to describe, ideas/concepts expressed, multilingual

PAGE 46

9 learners singled out or part of "all", specificity around l anguage as a part of language and assessment, and other (a placeholder fo r representations not predicted) generated two general codes Describing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners, and as that did not code much data, an additional, more genera l code was added Describing Students. In coding for Students it was noticed that people of other roles were described specifically as well, so the codes Teachers, School Leaders, Central Office Personnel, Families and Community, and Successful Graduate wer e added. In response to the third question, " How is successful schooling described? What criteria are present? What criteria are absent? " generated many codes ; Curriculum/content/standards/ assessment (these initially were separate codes but as they did not apply to much data individually, and always appeared together with at least one other of these codes, became a single code for any of these concepts), Classroom E nvironment , Instruction, Central Office Responsibilities, School L eadership (including I ns tructional L eadership T eam ) , College an d Career Readiness, Technology, Professional Development. In response to the question "What solutions are offered to address the problems?" the code Solutions Offered and The Plan were used to capture how the district s intended to implement their solutions which are the content of the plans themselves. District 2 documents were coded first and upon completion of the first pass a memo was written to capture noticings and thoughts about the first question from the proto col, specifically what is the p roblem description/overview . The use of the Data Analysis Protocol and coding of the documents process became recursive in response to the actual document content . While reading and assigning first pass codes, the Data Analy sis Protocol was adjusted and amended in response to what the documents actually said. This included re wording of the prompts as well as

PAGE 47

10 re organizing the order of the analysis. Once the District 2 document was coded for the two major categories and memos and summaries were completed capturing the specifics from this single document, District 1 documents were accessed and coded following the same process. Initially the same codes were used and as coding progressed new codes were added as needed based on co ntent of the new document . Upon completion of District 2 coding, District 1 documents were then coded for the new codes that had emerged from District 2 (See Figure 1) . Figure 1. Coding process for documents and video interviews. Interview Analysis. Fi rst p ass c oding . Data analysis was initiated in response first to Research Question 2a: What perspectives do district leaders responsible for interpreting and enacting Academic Strategic Plans express about bilingual learners and their teachers, as well as schooling practices and the work to meet the stated goals? What is/not named or discussed? Videos of the interviews were uploaded into the same project as documents in the data analysis software program MAXQDA . Videos were viewed multiple times to familia rize with content and get a sense of the interviews as Ôwholes'. Videos were then viewed using the Interview Questions for reference during the coding process. Codes fr om the interview questions, 1) I nterviewee role in light of Academic Strategic Plans, 2) multilingual learner performance areas of strength 3) multilingual learner performance areas of challenge, 4) systems and structures to support leaders and

PAGE 48

11 teachers to achieve the goals of the plans, 5) existing or potential barriers, 6) ideas or plans to build on strengths and/or address barriers, 7) anything else. Interviews were also coded using the same codes as the documents when applicable, and new codes were added as new content was discussed (See Figure 1 for timing overlap of document and interv iew coding) . During the coding process it was noted that the boundaries between the topics were at times blurred (i.e . , strengths and challenges of learners and strengths and challenges of systems and structures) so after each coding session codes were rev iewed and re coded as necessary to reflect the content of the segment, regardless of the question it was in response to. After each interview was analyzed, previous videos were reviewed to apply any codes that arose in later interviews to earlier ones. Figure 2. Coding, analysis and application of theoretical framework over time. Analysis of Messages and Ideologies D ocuments and I nterviews The Summary Grid and Summary Table features of MAXQDA were used to examine all codes referring to Successful School ing ( Sample Appendix B). All identified codes from all documents were loaded into the Summary Grid and summaries were written for each code by document. Once complete the summaries were compiled into a Summary Table, a matrix that organizes the summaries by code and document for easy side by side review and analysis . The Summary Table was reviewed and a memo was written chunking similar ideas together and

PAGE 49

12 identifying initial emerging themes. This process was then repeated for 1) Problem Achievement Gap an d Opportunity Gap , and 2) Describing St udents and Learning. Interviews were similarly analyzed for 1) Roles and Thoughts about ASPs, 2) Strengths, 3) Challenges, 4) MLL Performance, and 5) Ideas for Moving Forward. Lexical searches were also completed on t he terms Ôall every each', Ôculturally responsive, relevant, or appropriate', and Ôexcellence'. Themes emerged in two major categories people and the work of schooling. Messages about people were about 1) Excellence and success; 2 ) Acco untability and effi ciency; and 3 ) Power, identity and Agency. Messages about the nature of the work performed in the distr icts were 1 ) Equity as Equality or All/Every/Each; 2 ) Systems and structures to achieve high expectations; and 3 ) Culturally and linguistically responsiv e education. Review of the L iterature of S uccessful S chooling for M ultilingual L earners The literature review process was started with systematic searches of the Education Full Text and ERIC databases through the University library system using search st rings that referred to strategic planning, school reform, educational change, multilingual learners, English learners . This y ielded thousands of hits. To delimit the search , further criteria were applied: publication dates between 2008 and 2018, US public pK 12 school context, not specific to bilingual education or work pertaining to multilingual students who also have IEPs as these are specific bodies of research that are focus on programming and interventions that go beyond the scope of this study. These documents were then loaded into the MAXQDA data analysis software and abstracts were paraphrased for core content and coded. Some codes existed previously from analysis of the Academic Strategic Plan documents, others were cr eated to capture new content. S ince a challenge in finding empi rical studies on these topics was identified, mining conceptual works was an effective strategy for expanding literature resources.

PAGE 50

13 Ethics IRB approval timeline . Exemption approval was received from University of Colorado D enver March 8 , 2017 . District 1 approval was received July 18 , 2018 . District 2 approval was received August 17 , 2018 . Participant confidentiality and privacy . The confidentiality and privacy of those creating and implementing these plans will be protected in the following ways. Participants were provided a consent form ( Appendix C ) . If a participant had to leave the interview early for cause other than leaving the stud y I would have inquired if it would be possible to schedule a time to complete the int erview . If completing the interview would not be possible I would inquire if it is ok to consider the partial interview information in data analysis . If the information was insufficient or the participant chose to no longer be part of the study I would hav e destroyed the data collected and excluded this person's interview information from the study. All participants participated in the study to the end and while this provision was in place, it was not enacted. To protect confidentiality to the greatest exte nt possible all districts, schools and individuals have not been directly identified . District specific information was de identified and pseudonyms were given to all districts, programs, schools, and individuals. These pseudonyms have been used in all han dwritten and typed notes and texts, including transcriptions of interviews. These pseudonyms have been used in all writing and talking about the study. Since districts have made these documents public and individuals who participate in writing and/or carry ing out the plans are also publicly identified, a potential risk, however small, remains that the districts or their personnel may be recognized. To further mediate this risk, in addition to

PAGE 51

14 using pseudonyms, in reports I will leave out information referri ng to individuals, schools or the district that could serve to identify individuals, groups or districts. A note about citation: the IRB agreements with both districts specified that I strengthen the language about privacy to say "Since districts have ma de these documents public and individuals who participate in writing and/or carrying out the plans are also publicly identified, a potential risk, however small, remains that the districts or their personnel may be recognized. To further mediate this risk, in addition to using pseudonyms, in reports I will leave out information referring to individuals, schools or the district that could serve to identify individuals, groups or districts" (emphasis added). For this reason I am providing direct citation of interview quotes using pseudonyms, and am paraphrasing and summarizing the majority of the data from the documents. When specific wording from the documents feels important to capture the tone or content, I am including those few words in quotation marks. I am not indicating which document it refers to in order to limit the risk of identification of the document a nd district through an internet search of the phrasing since they are publicly available online . Document and other study material storage . I hav e stored all artifacts, handwritten and typed notes and documents, and digital audio recordings associated with the study on my university issued encrypted laptop. This laptop has been kept secure and with me or locked in my advisor's university office or my home office. All physical copies of handwritten and typed texts, artifacts, memos, and notes have been secured in a locked file cabinet in my home office. All emails, Z oom transcripts, and notes from communications with committee members were protected by using the University provided Outlook email system and other programs on my university issued and encrypted laptop. After the study has been completed all materials will be

PAGE 52

15 kept secure for five years and then destroyed using University of Colorado Denve r School of Education & Human Development protocols. Researcher S tance The researcher is a 20 year educator committed to high quality education for multi lingual learners. I have worked as a public school teacher, district level coordinator/partner and a Un iversity teacher educator specifically focused on providing and supporting high quality language and literacy instruction from a critical perspective. As a White woman and an emerging scholar I believe it is my responsibility to critique the normative and dominant approaches of educating culturally and linguistically diverse learners that commonly define difference as deficit. I am committed to engaging practices of reflection and bias checking so I can recognize and address the assumptions, interpretation of Ôtruth', and tensions that come with my positionality as a person of privilege within the public schools and the academy in which I study. In this study, I am an outsider, not currently working in either district. I have worked in one district previous ly ; however, I was not and am not currently in a supervisory role with any of the district personnel I spoke with for this study. Limitations This study is limited in scope by the small 'n' (two districts). My hope is that it lays the foundation and raises questions that merit further research in these areas. Interview participants were limited to those who chose to opt in, which turned out to be members of the departments that serve multilingual learners. Further research to understand perspectives of dist rict personnel who don't have the multilingual learner lens may bring addit i onal information and insight into strengths and challenges of implementing Academic Strategic Plans.

PAGE 53

16 The researcher has relationships and prior experience in one of the two distric ts ; this could have impacted access and openness in interview data collection. Summary of Methodology In summary, for my study, I conducted a n analysis of Academic Strategic Plan documents and interviews of school district personnel using the Altheide and Schneider's (2013) Ethnographic Content Analysis model of Frame Analysis (Benford & Snow, 2002; Creed et al., 2002; Goffman, 1974) . The goal of the study was to better understand the messages and ideologies that underlie two metropolitan school district Academic Strategic Plans that state goals for equitable outcomes of bilingual learners and how they are f ramed . Data collection involved accessing district ASP documents publicly available online and recording interviews with district level personnel who interpret and support the implementation of ASPs and opt in to be interviewed, at their convenience. Data analysis consisted of a systematic review of each document for content, then an analysis of the content of the districts together for messages and ideologies evident, followed by interview analysis to understand how the messages and ideologies are taken u p or resisted in the day to day enactment of these plans. The analysis process was recursive between documents, then interviews, and finally between documents and interviews to understand content, themes and ultimately the messages and ideologies that unde rlie the plans. Next, the findings from these analyses were viewed through the lens of critical sociocultural theory (Lewis et al., 2007; Teemant, 2018) to determine what literature of the past 10 ye ars has identified as conditions for successful schooling of bilingual learners. In conclusion, Academic Strategic Plans are reimagined as to how they could be resituated to more effectively operationalize emancipatory and social justice goals and thus la y

PAGE 54

17 groundwork for a new vision of schooling conditions in which multilingual learners, and all students, can thrive. The findings of the study are primarily intended to contribute to the knowledge base of current school district level reform efforts intende d to improve equitable outcomes for multilingual learners . Additionally it is hoped that individual districts could apply the findings to their own reform efforts to continuously improve policies and practices that impact this historically underserved popu lation.

PAGE 55

18 CHAPTER IV FINDINGS This study examines the content, messages and ideologies in Academic Strategic Plans (ASPs) from two districts with significant numbers of multilingual learners in order to understand their content and how they are framed. Th ese two ASP documents contain stated purposes of communicating the focus of district expectations for people and practices intended to close achievement gaps and produce more equitable outcomes in schools. This chapter will provide findings related to all three Research Questions and is organized to first report on Research Questions 1a (the content of documents) and 2a (the content of interviews), the Research Questions 1b and 2b together (messages and ideologies of documents and interviews), and finally R esearch Question 3 (review of the literature on successful schooling for multilingual learners . ) Response to Research Question1a document content was about the nature o f work and the roles of people ; response to Research Question 2a interview content wa s about interview participants ' own roles, challenges and barriers, and ideas for moving forward. Response to Research Questions 1b and 2b m essages about schooling practices in the distr icts were 1 ) Equity as e quality or All/Every/Each; 2 ) Systems and s t ructures to achieve h igh expectations; and 3 ) Culturally and ling uistically responsive education . M essages about people were about 1) Excellence and success; 2 ) Acco untability and efficiency; and 3 ) Power, identity and a gency. Response to Research Question 3 the comparison of messages and ideologies and the review of literature on successful schooling for multilingual learners revealed tensions between the predominantly technicist framed approaches as outlined in documents and the lived experiences of inte rview participants in their roles supporting multilingual learner success within current

PAGE 56

19 conditions of schools and technicist definitions of achievement by which success is measured. When compared with literature about successful schooling practices for th e diverse and varied multilingual learner population, which are framed from predominantly cri tical sociocultural perspective , tensions found in the interviews were validated and possibilities for potential paths forward emerged. Response to Research Quest ion 1 a : Content of Documents Research Question 1a Findings emerged in 4 categories: 1) Purpose and Problem Identified by ASPs, 2) Increased Numbers of Students Ready for College, Career and Community Life, 3) Operationalizing Gap Closing Mandates Through D ata Driven Practices, and 4) What ASPs Say About People Across the Organization . The Purpose and Problem Identified by Academic Strategic Plans The two districts participating in this dissertation study have developed and published Academic Strategic Plans in response to the call of national and state policies, specifically naming as a core focus the goal of closing achievement/opportunity gaps. The Academic Strategic Plan documents are designed to share with the public the focus the districts have agreed u pon for their work over a specified period of time. Each Academic Strategic Plan provides a section that documents the process they used to include stakeholders across the organization and community to contribute to everything from budgeting to profe ssiona l development planning . Academic Strategic Plans present demographics, vision, mission, core beliefs, values, and strategic priorities. These two ASPs are written to outline common expectations for leading, teaching and learning in all district schools . T he primary purpose of school is presented in the se ASP documents as preparing all students to graduate on time, ready for college, career, and

PAGE 57

20 community life . These ASPs name the central problem to address as "achievement gaps" between students who are ach ieving and groups of students who are not. This category of "not achieving" includes a diverse range of students this category compacts their individual and group identities into a single group of "everyone else" for whom we must eliminate "the gaps." Thes e Academic Strategic Plan documents show that d ata driven practices across the institution [at student, teacher, school, and district levels] are how these two districts are operationalizing their response to Federal and State accountability policies that require eliminating these " gaps ." Achievement and o pportunity gaps. When discussing achievement gaps, Academic Strategic Plan documents describe the need to take bold steps necessary and ensure the success of all students and talk about indicators and spec ific numerical targets for improvement focused on students, test scores, graduation rates, attendance, and behavior. The narrative of "success for all students" is consistent even when specifying students with differences, and students experiencing those d ifferences are frequently lumped together in one single group identified by needs that would be addressed if they were not experiencing success within the content and manner of regular educational programming. In these ASP documents this one group most oft en described together includes "English language learners, students with disabilities, gifted and talented students, and students struggling to keep pace . " In the Academic Strategic Plan documents t here is discussion of realignment of resources to allow f or new models of content delivery (personalized and individualized learning) and a move towards " competency based practices with fidelity of implementation " as well as the impact potential this has on closing gaps. Frequent and transparent data driven conv ersations and accountability of schools are presented as actions that districts and schools will engage in to accomplish "eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps." One district goes into more detail

PAGE 58

21 than the other and uses "opportunity gaps" alongside achievement gap, stating that the source of the gaps are a failure of schools to provide opportunities and meet students' needs. The district refers to these students who have needs as a group comprised mostly in poverty, students of color, students with disabilities and English language learners. They specifically identify that this group has significant need for intervention to "get them back on track" using academic scores as the evidence as both the source for identification of the problem and improve ment of academic scores as the locus of the solution. This failure to meet the needs of this group and achieve these scores is discussed as "on us , " as in the responsibility of schools and the district, and is the reason for urgency in the approach to solv e the problem of opportunity and achievement gaps. When talking about how they will achieve the goal of eliminating these gaps , these ASPs discuss the prov ision of resources and supports and the implementation of a "data driven and transparent" system tha t will track the performance of schools to accomplish achievement outcomes for all students. This system is intended to inform decisions about the degree of district intervention and potential for " replacing a school for consistently poor performance." The ASP documents also ta lk about need to be innovative and that implementing strategies of the past more or better will not accelerate achievement for all students. They discuss creating environments that best meet the needs of all students, and identify a m easurement of success of this initiative as the number of innovations that close opportunity and achievement gaps. More Students Prepared for College, Career, and C ommunity L ife The first category of priorities these two districts des cribe in their Academic Strategic Plan documents is how they define being prepared for college, career and community life. When students are described in these two districts' Academic Strategic Plan documents, the

PAGE 59

22 descriptions are often within the context of what districts need to do in order to create the conditions in which all students achieve. The description of what student success looks like is an acknowledgement of "issues, problems, unexpected challenges, academic and social needs" that students nav igate as they go through school. There are also descriptions of the opportuniti es schooling brings to students (e.g.: new ideas, new knowledge, and new experiences). These two Academic Strategic Plan documents describe a changing new world that students ne ed to be ready for as knowledge intensive and globally connected and identify a future challenge for students as competition for jobs not just in the US but also with students from around the world. These ASPs state that changes in technology, a more knowl edge based economy, resources, and opportunities have changed what students must know and be able to do in order to access current and future careers that may not exist today. Academic Strategic Plan documents from both districts refer to their responsibil ity to enact practices so that students meet standards that will prepare them to be ready for college, career, and life after high school. ASP documents refer to the work of the district specifically to guide new and more rigorous learning experiences, and that when combined with individualized approaches to learning, lay the foundation for students to be prepared for success in their future. ASP documents also discuss supporting students to explore and study post secondary options and four year high school plans starting in 8th grade. Even when "traveling unique learning paths", districts declare commitments to support all students to take advantage of these exciting opportunities and graduate on time and prepared for "college, career and life in a highly c hanging and competitive global environment." Multiple graduation plans are offered to provide pathways to graduation for students. Internships and course credit recovery are additional ways districts provide support for students to graduate ready and on t ime.

PAGE 60

23 Computer proficiency and use of technology is presented in ASP documents as being important for success in college, career and community life. Technology is talked about as being deployed for the purpose of impacting learning and collaboration as edu cators and their students access open resources and increase their digital literacy. ASP documents state that resources including technology are engaged to meet "unique needs of every student." Documents articulate that students are held to expectations a round technology literacy and are assessed based on the technology standards set by the state. In addition to describing what they define as college, career and community readiness, these Academic Strategic Plans describe how the achievement of these goal s is measured and tracked in various ways. Counts and percentages are completed of students who graduate "on time" (within four years), complete industry licensures/certifications, enroll in college, complete a capstone project, and/or take advanced/dual c redit courses. Percentages of students who perform to grade level targets, particularly in reading and mathematics are calculated. Ratios of students to district issued computers are determined. These measures are then noted and tracked in state accountabi lity systems and are included in quality designation of districts and schools. Operationalizing Gap Closing Mandates Through Data Driven Practices Districts are federally mandated to institute policies and practices that will close achievement gaps between students who are achieving to standards and students who are not (Valencia, 2015) . Data driven practices are found across both Academic Strategic Plan documents analyzed in this study as ways districts are operationaliz ing their response to the gap closing mandates and the goals they have set for themselves to achieve them . Specifically Academic Strategic Plans describe data driven practices in central office operations , curriculum

PAGE 61

24 and assessment, instruction, learning e nvironments, student learni ng a nd professional development. Central office. Academic Strategic Plan documents also outline the core purpose of central office a s developing an organizational culture of customer service, acquiring resources, developing orga nizational capacity to support schools and value every employee. Districts' central offices work within a model of continuous improvement to provide operational systems and processes for planning and budgeting cycles, implementing data driven school perfor mance management that determines the degree of district involvement and support schools receive. Central office is responsible for communication, marketing and branding, alignment of systems and processes, optimization of resources for efficiency and effe ctiveness with transparency, accuracy and accessibility of information. According to these ASP documents d istricts also provide academic resources and supports that schools can opt in to including assessments, professional learning aligned with curricular resources, particularly with a focus of eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps. Their stated goal is to provide flexibilities to schools, while ensuring compliance with laws and other binding obligations, all in alignment with stated values and cor e beliefs. Districts' efforts are also focused on expanding or discontinuing programs and initiatives in response to current needs and building relationships and partnerships with city, county, private, and non profit entities to expand opportunities. Scho ol support described in these two ASP documents entails all that can be managed so that school leadership focuses on teaching and learning in their schools. This includes technology integration, employee reward and recognition programs, innovative professi onal pathways for

PAGE 62

25 teachers, rigorous and scalable pipeline for principals and APs, expanding enrollment, facility management and school safety including transportation and food. All systems, teams, staff, roles and responsibilities are aligned with the nee ds of schools and schools are held accountable to performance outcomes. Central office works in partnership with schools and school leaders to determine best practices, guidelines, rubrics and other resources that support informed decision making "that wil l close opportunity gaps and lead to the success of all students . " This includes "champion[ing] an equity agenda to ensure all students have equal access to quality learning opportunities." Curriculum and assessment . Also outlined in the Academic Strategic Plan documents are expectations that s chools are supported to engage high quality standards aligned culturally and linguistically appropriate curriculum and assessments (formative, interi m, summative, performance tasks ) which are all aligned to Student Le arning Objectives, and information from reporting systems that provide data and information in order to "improve instruction and accelerate learning." Schools are to provide a coherent and aligned assessment system that includes aligned curriculum for core courses, magnet programs, and AP courses. These two ASP d ocuments indicate a need for an increase of quality and rig or in classroom instruction: a " deep implementation of grade level content standards and best practice instructional strategies targeting t he nee ds of English language learners . " Mentioning specifically the need to tailor content and instructional approaches to the needs of each learner, the documents state that students must be prepared to do the thinking and learning, teachers serve as guid es and the content is " rigorous and cultura lly and linguistically relevant" while also being aligned to college and career readiness standards. Specific content mentioned are "builds domain specific and general academic vocabulary , " "meaningful study of ri ch topics , " "prepares

PAGE 63

26 students to be informed citizens of the world beyond the classroom , " and "fosters development of critical and creative thinking skills . " There is a stated need to improve supports to struggling learners by improving interventions, res ources and training and articulate interventions in curriculum and instructional tools. In the face of increasing academic standards and achievement gap indicators, districts regularly monitor progress in reading, math and writing using standardized assess me nts (e.g. DIBELS, STA R). This monitoring data is also provided to the state for accountability purposes. Language Proficiency and Spanish standa rds are directly indicated for including materials that support differentiation across learning needs (e.g. b y language proficiency levels aligned to Language Proficiency and Spanish standards). Spanish assessments are provided in literacy and math in grades 3 8. Educators are expected to regularly and collaboratively analyze student work and data to " quickly and intentionally remove barriers to student learning " , provide students the " right data at the right time " so they share ownership in learning and understand progress towards goals, and shape their own learning experiences. All is aimed at increasing student achievement and eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps. Instruction. Instruction is described as systematic, sequential, cumulative, targeted, and explicit. Direct instruction is specified along with inquiry and problem based models. Dual language programming is mentioned with need to eval uate the program to determine "impact on student achievement" . Response to Intervention (RtI) and curriculum implementation are pointed out specifically as high quality supports, interventions, and resources to be provided so that all students achieve in every school. Literacy and math are the two content areas called out specific ally. A separate literacy plan developed and implemented is to include specifically " science of reading instruction " ' and " practical appl ications of concepts. " Mathematics,

PAGE 64

27 particularly a computational fluency model, is presented as a model to increase student achievement via targeted intervention. A directly stated goal is to increase the number of students performing at or above grade lev el in math. Learning e nvironments . Expectations are laid out that learning enviro nments, both online and face to face, are physically and emotionally safe, caring, and positive. Culturally responsive education in every classroom via intentional strategies is mentioned as a description of expectation without details of what those strategies might be . Classrooms are to be culturally responsive, celebrate diversity, and make meaningful connections to diverse backgrounds . When describing classrooms a range of terms are used to describe the tone enjoyable , compelling challenging, stretch, adaptable, tailored, varied student centered activity and learning (from critical thinking, problem solving, conversation), excitement, passion, innovative, "chall enging us to think differently about the design of school and learning environments and to launch new models of learning that dramatically improve how we prepare kids for success . " Civic engagement entails community impact projects and authentic problem so lving experiences about social and community issues. The expectation for students is that they be "well prepared, succes sful, civically engaged adults." Student learning. When describing learning , Academic Strategic Plan documents discuss multiple opportun ities for flexible and personalized learning, each student actively engaged in learni ng, including students with unique learning needs and at times sl ightly different learning paths. According to these ASP documents, l earning happens in physically and emot ionally safe, caring, and positive learning environments , including innovations such as technology use and problem based learning . There is a transformational use of technology for teaching and learning ,

PAGE 65

28 and schools optimize online learning and online lea rning environments . Problem based learning (PBL) i s an alternative to traditional classroom learning . I n PBL , learning becomes active in the sense that students discover and work with content that they determine to be necessary. This work is both collabora tive and interdisciplinary, providing world class , intellectually rich , and culturally relevant learning experiences. Student agency is called out when students play an active role in selecting what, where and how they learn, students succeed. This inclu des decisions around content, environment, pace and modality, and engage individual learning paths with dedicated time for student learning, adapted to meet students ' need s . Parents and community partners are intentionally integrated into students' learni ng experiences to support their academic, social, and emotional growth. Students share ownership over their learning by understanding their progress against goals and have voice and choice to shape their learning experiences, and manage their "growth areas , learning needs and interests . " Teachers and students use tools such as learning progression rubrics, practices for leveraging qualitative and quantitative data, matching interests and learning needs and paths that allow for progression based on mastery. Demonstrations of learning inform content, delivery and goals, in collaboration with students to shape their learning experiences, and develop conditions support continuous learning. A variety of other issues are discussed such as the need for acceleratin g learning, varied and substantive support to enhance math and reading skills in early childhood, student learning needs to be measured, and that teachers need to understand student learning progressions so they can quickly and intentionally remove barrier s to student learning. Professional d evelopment . Supported by central office departments and personnel, professional development is described in Academic Strategic Plan documents as job embedded

PAGE 66

29 and peer to peer, focused on building the capacit y at the school level to provide access to fun, challenging, and individualized learning experiences for teachers and is grounded in high expectations for students and adults. Professional development is also discussed practically and technically. It is s een as ongoing, innovative, aligned with technology integration and deployment, and specifically focused on supports for core instruction through RtI, technology integration, and curriculum implementation. A clearinghouse of professional development option s serves as centralized support and is guided by a data driven evaluation system to understand impact of and continuously improve offerings. Schools have the flexibility to determine their own needs and can opt in to district supports or create their own t o address the needs of the lowest 25% of students experiencing low performance as measured by academic and career readiness standards. Districts discuss moving forward with individualization and competency based models that are seen as the foundation of im provement and policies. High quality professional development supports, feedback, and coaching are emphasized as what is needed to accelerate progress towards ending opportunity and achievement gap. What ASP Documents Say About People Across the O rganizat ion Academic Strategic Plans describe and refer to school leaders, teachers, students, families and communi ties, and multilingual learners in mostly active and positive ways and focused on the technical aspects of teaching, learning, assessing, to ultimate ly close gaps and support student success . School leaders . Seen as 'critical drivers of change' school leaders and their instructional leadership teams are responsible for all efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps and ensuring the success of " a ll students placed in their care . " School leaders are seen as pivotal. School leaders are expected to be instructional leaders their role is to develop and expertise

PAGE 67

30 about standards, instruction, assessment, data driven instruction, positive classroom cli mate, individualization , and holding teams accountable to closing opportunity and achievement gaps and create systems and structures (i.e . , observation cycles and yearlong maps) to ensure every student succeeds. School leaders prioritize professional devel opment and use tools to map out, plan and implement strategic initiatives that support the success of their school. As a function of e ngaging the community, making strategic decision s and leveraging expertise of school leadership teams, school leaders res pond to feedback and continuously improve to champion equity and support their school ' s success in closing achievement gaps and supporting success of all students, based on their Unified Improvement Plans. School leaders are valued, sought out and supporte d, focused primarily on student achievement in well run classrooms. Accessing school leader preparation programs, cultivating leadership internally, and focused mentorship of existing leade rs are ways districts seeks to " attract, dev elop and retain strong leaders." Supported and held accountable for the success of students, leaders are tasked with modeling and holding students, themselves and their teachers to high expectations. Teachers. Teachers, named explicitly as "skilled educators , " are seen as intel lectually engaged inspirers "equipped and fully prepared to guide the learning of all students" filled with expertise in content and language, skilled with practices that they engage intentionally, analyzing a range of data collaboratively, deploying reso urces, tailoring lessons, providing feedback to 'deepen and accelerate learning' and with peers support one another to continuously improve. They are expected to have high expectations and provide excellent instruction with strong supports as they are seen as medi ators between students and the " knowledge int ensive globally connected world" helping students acquire knowledge, skills, and ha bits for success. They develop " intellectually rich and culturall y relevant learning experiences" and their complex and

PAGE 68

31 important work against the "plague" of " persistent income, linguistic and race based opportunity and achievement gaps . " Teachers are seen as active learners analyzing student work and data, exploring, adapting and applying personalized learning tools, col laborating, " understanding and meeting the unique need s of each student in their care , " build ing on strengths and seek ing opportunities for growth by receiving regular actionable constructive feedback and coaching. Teachers also, via a "deep" implementatio n of grade level content standards and instructional strategies "targeting the needs of English language learners , " assess and progress monitor to make instructional decis i ons to provide equitable culturally and linguistically appropriate learning opportun ities for all students. Teachers participate in professional learning and refine their practice through feedback and coaching loops. Teachers are expected to implement strategies that focus on culturally responsive education in every classroom. Students. W hen students are described in Academic Strategic Plan documents the descriptions are often within the context of what districts need to do in order to create the conditions in which all students achieve. The description of what student success looks like i s an acknowledgement of "issues, problems, unexpected challenges, academic and social needs" that students navigate as they go through school. There are also descriptions of the opportunities schooling brings to students new ideas, new knowledge, and new experiences. Students are described as empowered , owners, achievers, dreamers (" achieve goals they ne ver dreamed possible" ). They are held to high standards, seen as potential role models who see "myself as a whole person" , with unique strengths and intere sts, whose native language, culture, diversity, and physical health are mentioned as "assets" and noted as points of pride and character. The cultural diversity of school communities are to be "embraced and celebrated" and supported by the schools.

PAGE 69

32 When d escribing what students do in school verbs used are think, understand, respond, solve, learn, grow, use, value, embrace, listen, share, and communicate. Students are described as working, accessing, synthesizing, applying, and seeking. They strive to under stand, persevere, hold themselves accountable, value, nurture, explore, think deeply, problem solve, create, take ownership, and stretch. When describing how students engage with content and each other descriptors are used such as critically, effectively, complex, creatively, challenging, independently, attentively, and collaboratively. Students are described as passionate, cultural and linguistic, open minded, with critical ears, passion and elegance. They are self driven, self aware, dependable, active members of school and community and make impact. The narrative of "success for all students" is consistent even when specifying students with differences, and those differences are frequently lumped together , as "English language learners, students with disabilities, gifted and talented students, and students struggling to keep pace . " The exception to this is when English language learners are being discussed in light of their language proficiency assessment or assessment in Spanish. In these instances st udents are discussed as a subgroup of students with "needs" to address. Families and community . Families and the community are identified as important for students and involvement is valued. A practice presented in the Academic Strategic Plan documents is that Parent Surveys are provided every spring to elicit input and information from families in order to influence decision making by school and district leaders. Other outreach venues are provided as well. Districts are interested in improving consistency and quality of translation and interpretation services. Fa milies are included as part of "everyone . " Families are expected to be actively involved, engaged and invested in student success. The documen ts state

PAGE 70

33 that families must be "empowered" and " united i n embracing transparency, proactive communication and strategies for improvement." School choice and quality of education options are indicated as elements that hel p "students and families thrive . " Families and communities are "embraced" and seen as needi ng to "raise the bar at home and give your children the support they need to succeed at school." Students and families are supported through large scale initiatives like Breakfast in the Classroom, tutoring and mentoring, PTA, service provider partnerships , curricular and extra curricular education opportunities, specifically identified to meet student and family needs. There is a stated intention to include families in decision making processes and districts seek to increase capacity to provide translation and interpretation services. Multilingual learners . What specifically is said about the multilingual learner population and where they fit in the plans for improvement in the Academic Strategic Plan documents is limited. Multilingual learners are rarely described as a stand alone population with unique characteristics. In the absence of frequent specific mention, multilingual learners are consistently included in efforts to improve achievement for "all" students. If mentioned specifically they are identif ied as English learners and described only based on their "needs" or their language proficiency. English learners are also most often included grouped together as students with differences, for example, "English learners, students with disabilities, gifte d students, and those struggling to keep pace." Spanish speakers are the only group of multilingual learners whose language is specifically mentioned in light of assessments being available in their language, within specific subjects and grade levels, and though it is not mentioned directly in the documents it is implied that this is to match the language of instruction in those content areas/grades. Improving interpretation and translation services are also mentioned as an important element in "authentic e ngagement with students, parents/guardians, teachers, and

PAGE 71

34 community" and in translated assessment offerings of interims. When describing the need to include materials that support differentiation across learning needs, the need for language specific consid erations is presented (e.g. by language proficiency levels aligned to Language Proficiency and Spanish standards). An example of this is when discussing assessment in general there is a statement to specify that Spanish assessments can be provided in liter acy and math in grades 3 8. Response to Research Question 2 a : Content of Interviews Research Question 2a asks : What perspectives do district leaders responsible for interpreting and enacting Academic Strategic Plans express about mult ilingual learners and their teachers, as well as schooling practices and the work to meet the stated goals? What is/not named or discussed? Key findings are that a ccording to interview participants , Academic Strategic Plans are perceived as bold and a good first step, but to be effective and accomplish the big goals of closing achievement gaps there needs to be a tighter connection between ASPs and daily work, a better match of ASPs and conditions in schools, and a better understanding of how performance on college and career re adiness benchmarks does and does not capture what students know and can do. T hree themes that emerged from analysis of interviews were 1) Content of the interviews in light of their roles, thoughts about ASPs and MLL performance, 2) C hallenges and barriers they see, and 3) I deas they have for improvements and moving forward . Participant P erspective on Roles, ASPs and MLL P erformance Interviewee roles. When asked about their job specific roles in the district all participants indicated that they worked to s upport a range of people across the organization, specifically to promote the achievement of multilingual learners. The roles of interview participants were central office personnel charged with the compliance, services, and program implementation for

PAGE 72

35 mult ilingual learners in preK 12. Their roles ranged across executive, directorial , and managerial levels of the district department focused on meeting the needs of this specific population. Participant expertise ranged across all educational levels (preschool through high school), and various roles (teaching, school leadership, and a variety of central office positions). When talking about their roles participants mentioned that their work is to resource and support schools to be able to serve multilingual le a r ners . This includes initial and ongoing professional development, coaching support for all school staff front office, teachers, and leaders, curricular support, resources. " All of this comes with a need to track data to understand where we are effectiv e and where we ne ed to make tweaks " (Amelia , interview , September 21, 2018). They also discussed using review structures rubrics along with the support of district personnel to provide thought partnership and help with decision making in ways that most sc hools feel is supportive, with some sort of final assessment where everyone signs off on the status of where the school is and planned improvements. What interview participants think of ASPs . The Academic Strategic Plans were not much discussed in the in terviews, even in response to direct questions. Often responses to the questions were directly about participants' own roles and their day to day responsibilities, concerns , and successes. When Academic Strategic Plans were addressed directly, participan ts from both districts articulated value yet concern that their Academic Strategic Plans are both bold and very broad. In speaking to this tension Olivia stated, The [Academic Strategic Plan] is a bold plan, and I am wary of it because I see the data [t he state assessment] data is showing that we are not even near those college and career readiness benchmarks. So I think that the plan is bold and pulling out the things we should be working towards but at the ground implementation level it is not being a ttended toÉ The bold isn't as grounded in the data as the daily of who is sitting in front of us, of what needs students have, of how literacy and language development across

PAGE 73

36 every content in everything we teach should be a priority for all of us. And tha t is just a sm all piece, but an important one (Olivia, interview, October 4, 2018). She also point ed out that while there are small pockets to make connections between the daily work and the bold goals, there aren't processes at the district or at the bu ilding level to facilitate that happening, and as a result opportunities are being missed. Mariana, Thomas, Olivia , and Amelia all mention ed discipline specific plans (literacy, math, English learner) are also developed around the specific expectations, d irectives, supports, and tools that schools use at different grade levels that are aligned with the strategic priorities of the Academic Strategic Plans (interviews July September, 2018). Mariana also specifie d a cadence of assessments that are then used t o measure the growth of different populations of students, and improvements are then recorded on the [public document used to track progress on the measures identified in the ASP] to indicate progress of the district towards the identified goals. Citing t he connection of core beliefs to the day to day work, Mariana named the College and Career Readiness as the belief "we really focus on in our bilingual programming to look at our English language learners in particular because they tend to be the ones we don't tend to promote at the levels of others, especially college bound" (Mariana, interview, July 24 , 2018 ). Participants provided a range of perspectives on how valuable and connected their work is to the Academic Strategic Plan. Nested beneath the Str ategic Plan is the literacy plan, which rolls out problem based learning, the tools that schools are using at different grade levels and connects our PD with our teachers the literacy plan identifies balanced literacy so how do we create robust spaces f or bilingual learners in the balanced literacy format that is in the Literacy Plan underneath the Strategic Plan and it is all tightly connected" (Mariana, interview, July 24, 2018). In expressing the scope of the plans, Natalie sa id ,

PAGE 74

37 The ASP is great i t is a good first stepÉ and technically we are all supposed to be cascading from it but it is so broad you could argue that pretty much anything that you are doing is cascading from that goal , " (Natalie, interview, October 5, 2018). Another perspective shared along those lines was that the ASP is Éso broad and inclusive of so many things it doesn't seem very strategic lots of operational things in there. Rather than these are the things we are going to double down on and make an investment to make a big move for our kids. So because it is so broad and all inclusive I find it unfortunate that we are only mentioned in there as Ôwe are going to evaluate the bilingual program.' I would agree if [it focused on] 3 5 big things I could see that we wouldn't be on there. But given that from transportation, to cafeteria, to customer service the fact that we are not on there is something we are really working to change for the next round." (Thomas, interview, August 23, 2018). MLL p erformance on benchmark mea sures how these do and do not show what students know and can do. In response to questions around multilingual learners ' performance in the district s, specifically areas of strength and challenge, interview participants made points predominantly about sta ndardized assessments of language proficiency and state required assessments of literacy and math. Comments focused primarily on a genera l history of growth and upwards trajectories of multilingual learners as a whole population. Several participants from both districts mentioned that students who have received native language instruction , and that students who have exited English Language Development programming (by reaching predetermined benchmarks on language proficiency assessments) outperform their mon olingual peers. Consistency of programming, staffing, leadership, ongoing or increased professional development and dual language programming are all mentioned as important features of schools where students do better on performance measures. When discussi ng graduation rates two participants mentioned that the gap between MLLs and peers has been closing, and most MLLs were ultimately achieving on end of course exams in core content areas with the exception of English exams, though when bodies of evidence we re reviewed most successfully passed the review and graduated based on committee recommendation.

PAGE 75

38 C hallenges and B arriers Interview participants identified a range of challenges and barriers for the implementation of Academic Strategic Plans. 1) The p rogr am provision approach is highly dependent on conditions and consistency in schools , 2) Capacity for change is limited when continually countering narratives of deficiency , and 3) Operating in silos at the district, department, and school result in limitati ons of resources and supports. Program provision approach is highly dependent on conditions and consistency in schools. I nterview participants from both districts , Nat alie, Thomas, Mariana, and Alma , all discuss the presence of competing priorities, partic ularly for school leaders recognizing that there is so much to know and make decisions on when leading in schools, and that not enough leaders have the cultural and language background knowledge to effectively implement bilingual or second language program ming even when they make the conscious decision to opt in to projects that have the explicit focus of intentional language instruction and that come with increased district supports (interviews July September, 2018). Further expanding on the challenges t hat root from many leaders and teachers with limited backgrounds about multilingual learners , Carolina raise d a further challenge that has to do with the paperwork that tracks English learner proficiency over time . The purpose of this paperwork is to ensur e that adequate supports are in place and progress is being made based o n legal and policy requirements. "Moving from a compliance to commitment mindsetÉ understanding that forms are not papers we fill out but plans we have to support students " (Carolina, interview, September 27, 2018) is a challenge in schools but one worth tackling because when people do make this move, she reports, programing and student performance improves. Olivia brings up the challenge of multiple program

PAGE 76

39 requirements within a single school and the difficulty of managing the tensions between them, particularly on current rapid pace timelines. For example, [one school]'s programming includes bilingual, 6 12, and Early College those are all good things to strive for, but ask me if they are doing any of them well. They're not. That's a problem too. There are varied areas of focus that don't dovetail but cause tension among each other. Then you are left with the decision about what do I prioritize within the se really high priority itemsÉ. W hat does support look like for that, when they don't have the resources to address all of their competing priorities? É And the timeline, everything is urgent so the message is you've got 30 d ays to set that up Go! (Olivia, interview, October 4, 2018). Personnel from both districts raised the concern that programming needs to be a match for both the student and teacher population in order for it to be effectively implemented. Launching rigid and specific models that have tight program design intended to be implemented with fidelity has proven challenging in both districts when the conditions of the schools are not a match with program requirements. Issues arose such as access to sufficient materials in languages needed, fluctuation of speakers of the same language at different grade levels both teachers and students, and changing demographics. Thomas and Amelia also raised concerns they had about implications specifically for bilingual programming in light of shifting demographics and decisions made to ro ll out programming en masse. They mention ed that when schools are required to implement programming without consideration of conditions and readiness factors (i . e ., numbers of students in each language group per grade level, preparedness and degree of bili ngualism of teachers, availability of materials in different languages) there is a concern that as a result the programs were set up for failure, the students not sufficiently supported with cohesive instruction an d assessment and that this can then be use d as evidence for the need to phase out bilingual programming and move to all English (interviews, July September, 2018).

PAGE 77

40 Gentrification and population movement in the communities have significant impact on what language specific programming schools can (a nd must) provide. Changing demographics is a real issue housing here is very, very expensive and the number of ELs is dropping, and they are shifting in location. Where neighborhoods that used to have lots and lots of English learners those numbers are d ropping as that is the areaÉ that is next being hit with gentrification. Whereas in other partsÉ where it is still more affordable to live, our numbers are growing, so these demographic changes are putting a strain on the ability to implement quality bilin gual programs in schools that have traditionally had them ( Amelia, interview , Sept 21, 2018). Amelia also mentioned the stress of continuous change on communities. There is innovation fatigue particularly in our African American community. They are say ing stop experimenting on us É and while there is some buy in there is also a pushbackÉlet's just do what we are already doing well . (Amelia, interview, Sept 21, 2018). Another challenge raised was providing quality bilingual programming under changing tea cher allocation policies. When teacher allocation shifted from program based to ratio based in one district, it created challenges particularly in bilingual programming. An example In third grade and if you have 66 students and a 22:1 classroom ratio, t hat is 3 teachers 22, 22, 22. But if 33 of those kids are in the dual language program, and 33 of those students are English only or ESL then what is required to implement the program is 4 teachers 2 DL and 2 EO" ( Thomas , interview , August 23, 2018). As a result of this policy change schools faced the unintended challenge of engaging the assets and meeting the needs of both groups in the same room. This forced a more traditional transitional push in or pull out model where you teach everything in Engl ish and then provide small group support or supplement with the other language. [This is] helpful in that kids are maintaining their Spanish literacy skills, but still isn't ideal, not as effective as if it were an integral part of all programming, and [an unintended consequence] is that it is turning out to be more of a way to phase out [bilingual] programs than a viable model" ( Amelia , interview, Sept 21, 2018).

PAGE 78

41 The virtue of consistency in program design and personnel, along with the space to grow and r efine programs over time was mentioned by several participants as important for not only the success of the programs, but for the success of the students. Jack sa id it the most clearly When students have been in consistent [bilingual] programs, particular ly pilot schools that have had consistent staff and systematic implementation of programming, student scores seem to be at or above the other elementary schools, especially when you control for socio economic status and the [bilingual] schools are doing be tter with low SES students whether they are ELs or non ELs ( Jack, interview, July 31, 2018). Countering narratives of deficiency . Interview participants serve roles in departments dedicated specifically to supporting the success of multilingual learners and participants from both districts highlighted the importance of bilingual programming, from their perspectives, for multilingual learner's success in schools. In interviews there was a very strong pattern around how they talked about multilingual learne rs naming strengths, referring to them as capable, the respect they have for bilingualism and biliteracy. One particularly strong example this positive regard for these students is from Thomas. He sa id , Areas of strength we see in the learners we have tre mendous esteem for them for so many things the persistence they show, the resiliency they have after overcoming various challenges in life, the cognitive be nefits that accrue from being b ilingual and having two languages, the confidence that they get kno wing that they are on their way to being bilingual students rather than on their way to being English speakers. They are very motivated, very committed to school, families are very supportive of the school especially at the elementary level (Thomas, inter view, August 23, 2018). Thomas further pointed out the challenge of holding an asset perspective that others do not when he commented about trying to counter a narrative of deficiency about students . To paraphrase he mentioned conversations and decisions about raising the expectations of schooling where countering this narrative of deficiency required making sure everyone truly underst oo d the potential of all students regardless of their SES, their language, and their culture . Mariana spoke

PAGE 79

42 similarly about this need for actively shifting adult deficit perspectives of students with a story from her experience challenging underlying beliefs about language and bilingualism. She sa id : I call it the cancer because it's likeÉ the deficit thinkingÉ like having ve ry low expectations of children [leaders say things like] well , my children don't have shoes, they don't have coats, they don't have language, they're too mobile, they don't have a stable home, and because of this they can't be bilingual, it's too hard, it 's too much. She lament ed this reality and points out a need for adult learning, "It's painful, it's a painful conversation to hear but it just shows us how much more support these leaders need, and how much more learning they still have in front of them . " She went on to say , It's very easy [for them] to list all the reasons why children can't be bilingual, but it's funny, when I say, you know, these refugee kids who have lived their entire life in the refugee camp before coming here and actually , thei r mother lived HER entire life in the refugee camp, met her husband and got married in the refugee camp, had seven children who all lived their lives in the refugee camp they all speak 4 and 5 languages. Very few refugee children are monolingual. And [the leaders] look at me and with all due respect I get it but [mobility, poverty, hardships are] not a reason for our children to not be able to learn languages (Mariana, interview, July 24, 2018). Recognizing the work being done to counter narratives of deficiency , interview participants from b oth districts report ed that progress is being made and that they are seeing a critical mindset shift in the last 2 3 years. They report ed that in the past English learners had been seen as an afterthought, plans we re made and then, when prompted questions would be asked about differentiation and language resources. Now more individuals and departments are recognizing a shared responsibility and making different decisions than they have in the past. É they don't alw ays know what do we do about it but we no longer have to say is that available in Spanish? And, how might we differentiate that for newcomers and that is a huge accomplishment ( Amelia, interview , September 21, 2018). Thomas also noted , that the mindse t shift has also been evidenced in some actions,

PAGE 80

43 The money is not always there but the support is there in theory, and we have been able to move resources around to address [some of the] issues ( Thomas, interview , August 23, 2018). Alignment of systems a nd structures the impact of silos . Partici pants reported challenges with a lignment of systems and structures at the district leadership level. Responses ranged from acknowledging differing needs across education levels (i . e . , elementary vs . high school), competing priorities (each department having its own initiatives and requirements), needs of students in special populations that most often are addressed or planned for after general initiatives or interventions are developed and rolled out, and even at t he highest levels, the design of the organization with separate operations and academics teams can result in decisions and efforts that don't match the needs of the schools. Thomas provided a specific example of this kind of disconnect, A major alignment issue was the leadership component you have the bilingual department in the academics team, and the principals and associate superintendents were overseen by th e schools team. The associate s uperintendents did not agree with bilingual programming beyond a verbal agreement yeah that's great, I believe in [it] and think it is important but when it came to any specifics re: implementation the feedback and guidance the principals would get were not specific to the model (i . e ., reading interventions in all En glish though reading was 50/50) we noticed writing scores low on benchmark so pick which language they are going to be assessed in and move them to all of that language. And the response was well good luck with thatÉ oth er principals didn't have clout o r experience so would buckle to the pressure and [district leadership] didn't feel any responsibility to actively support it and often would provide supports that did the opposite ( Thomas, interview , August 23, 2018). Natalie brought up a similar challe nge and added the perspective of the end user when decisions are made in silos and delivered as separate initiatives, it can be confusing and potentially impede the success of the work, If we really want to move the needle and close the gaps significantl y [we need to address] how siloed out we are at the district level and how confusing that is to teachers who are constantly feeling like they have to implement best practices in literacy, and best practices in math, and best practices in ELA . I t gets reall y hard to collaborate, and... if we are not working side by side [we won't do what we say we want to] especially since

PAGE 81

44 content langua ge development and strategies for bilingual learners [are] all e mbedded in content instruction," (interview, October 5, 201 8). Interview Participant Ideas for Moving F orward Interview participants had many i deas for moving forward . Olivia identified that it is " the places of tension and discomfort are the places we have opportunity to create solutions and make change ," (inter view, October 4, 2018). Interview participants expressed a need to m ove past operating o n a model of design for the imagined average learner and then retro fit materials and instruction for special populations . In response to the challenges about siloed p ractices that have resulted in important perspectives being left out or too late when collaboration happens after decisions , interview participants describe d a need for a s hift to a model of more collaborative partnership similar to partnerships they are s eeing in place at the school level, anticipating that this design could improve effectiveness at the district level as well. Interview participants describe d ideas for differently designing schools based on the conditions specific to that school ( who are t he student s , adult s , materials, and community) and this needs to be prioritized over using only a data driven focus on meeting an external common high bar of expectations that are the same for everyone. Interview participants caution ed that there is a n eed for responsiveness i n decisions and supports due to challenges of population mobility and decreasing funding simultaneous with raising standards and expectations for student performance. Ideas and plans to build on strengths and address barriers . Partici pants varied on what they mentioned as strengths and ranged from tracking students' participation in English language development programming, providing high quality bilingual/biliteracy programming, to the importance of teams in schools working together, often with district level partners, to understand conditions and identify schooling practices that match the cultural, academic and linguistic assets

PAGE 82

45 and needs within the school. Both districts in this study provide d ual language programming in some of the ir schools and most participants from both districts brought up this programming in particular as central to their approach to effectively sc hooling multilingual learners. Many participants talked about the strengths they see in the collaborations they hav e in schools or across departments, acknowledging that the successes are pocketed and to truly improve supports to teachers, leaders, and schools they would need to become more strategic and address barriers that are in the way. This balance of navigating the complexity of the challenges facing schooling was a common theme across many interviews. For example, Amelia asked : How do we create schools with high quality bilingual programming [within areas of rapidly shifting demographics] do we pool resources? Create magnet schools? Then you end up sending the brown kids all to one school so then we are walking the tension of a value of the benefits of integrated schools for kids and we believe in school choice so how do we balance that with being able to de liver high quality bilingual programming? É Lots of schools are thinking about trying Dual Language as an answer to gentrification, and we want to make sure we have some degree of quality control, s o we support and want to be part of those conversations ( i nterview, September 21, 2018). Building off of the challenges brought up about the deficit thinking that often permeates thinking about refugee students, Mariana discussed an idea they have been trying, We have been offering more dual language to our re fugee families because at first we were like oh no they are coming from trauma, but then the families were like well, my kid already knows French and French and Spanish aren't that different, orÉ my kid already knows 3 languages his brain is already wi red, already translating he talks with his mother in French and his father in Arabic and his brothers in another language so it has pushed us to think d ifferently ( Mariana , interview , July 24, 2018). Response to Research Questions 1b and 2b: Messages an d Ideologies Research Questions 1b (about documents) and 2b (about interviews) ask: What messages and ideologies are conveyed and how are they framed? Analysis of both documents and interviews revealed that the content of these two Academic Strategic Plans are ideologically

PAGE 83

46 framed from a predominantly technicist perspective. Interview participants, in their roles and responsibilities to implement district policies and practices express tensions between their own beliefs and thou ghts of providing quality schooling for multilingual learners and the technicist framed systems and structures within which they operate. This section is organized to first define and explain the technicist perspective followed by sections describing the p atterns that emerged from documents and interviews. Messages about schooling practices in the distr icts were 1 ) Equity as Equality or All/Every/Each, 2 ) Systems and structures to achieve high expectations, and 3 ) Culturally and linguistically responsive ed ucation is recognized as a need . Messages about people were about 1) Excellence and success, 2 ) Acco untability and efficiency, and 3 ) Power, identity and a gency. Technicist P erspective I am defining a technicist perspective as drawn from the bo dy of literature about educational change, particularly the corporate and business model of education (Bambrick Santoyo, 2010; Bambrick Santoyo, 2012; Bryk, 2010; Danielson, 2002; Reeves & Dufour, 2018; Schmšker, 2003). For the purpose of this dissertatio n technicist approaches are defined as prioritizing strategy, organized as data driven, and using value added measures as evidence of successful implementation of educational change. What these approaches have in common is that they share an ideology that efficiency, accountability, and incremental tracking of progress and ultimately outcomes is what will effectively shift student test scores (the measures being tracked) to be more like those of the dominant population . It is the White, middle class/elite, Western European cultural ways of being, knowing, and using language that are the norming referents of the tests , and which are the measure of the success of the schools (Kim, 2018).

PAGE 84

47 An example of this ideology in action is the reported success of North S tar, a New Jersey charter school network led by Uncommon Schools and the basis for the work Leverage Leadership (Bambrick Santoyo, 2012). In this work , success is attributed to two things: "the first is a relentlessness about spending time on the most impo rtant things and as little else as humanly possible. The second, far harder, is bringing an engineer's obsession to finding the way to do those things as well as humanly possible" (Lemov's forward in Bambrick Santoyo, 2012, p. Xxii). The narrative that is Ômost important, little else, and doing as well as possible' position s the work being done in schools as behaviors and activities that can be reduced to a series of steps and actions that, once learned and implemented with accuracy and efficiency, claims t o lead to results that can be equalized to transcend difference and achieve the same results for all students in all schools. One example of how a technicist perspective in these Academic Strategic Plan documents is represented is in how school leaders ar e presented. The role of school leaders is described as being holders of the technical knowledge of schooling (ie, standards, instruction, assessment, data driven instruction, positive classroom climate, individualization , accountability for closing opport unity and achievement gaps and creat ing the systems and structures (i.e ., observation cycles and yearlong maps) to ensure every student succeeds. Even when describing planning for professional learning the description is focused on the technical aspects : " use tools to map out, plan and implement strategic initiatives that support the success of their school. " Teachers and their work are also presented from a predominantly technicist perspective. Academic Strategic Plan documents provide a positive descript ion of teachers, naming them explicitly as " skilled educators ," who are seen as " intellectually engaged inspirers ." Examples of this technicist perspective on effective teaching practices (Au, 2011; Marzano, Marzano &

PAGE 85

48 Pickering, 2003) include " equipped and fully prepared to guide the learning of all students " and filled with " expertise in content and language. " Describing teachers as skilled with practices that they engage intentionally, analyzing a range of data collaboratively, deploying resources, tailor ing lessons, providing feedback to " deepen and accelerate learning " and with peers, support one another to continuously improve, these ASP documents use language that determines the discrete activity and often the manner in which teachers are to do their w ork. Teachers are expected to have high expectations and provide excellent instruction with strong supports as they are seen as mediators between students and the 'knowledge intensive globally connected world' helping students acquire knowledge, skills, an d habits for success. This is important because research, though from varying ideological bases and with varying foci, has consistently shown that school leadership (Leithwood et al . , 2003; Robinson, 201 7) and the influence of the teacher (Goddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2000; Hattie, 2003) are essential components of schooling in which students experience success. When teaching and leadership are approached from the technicist perspective, the practices, tools, and daily activities are organized around accountabilit y and efficiency, and by design focus on the discrete point, incremental data that drive the decisi ons and the work in the schools. Messages About Schooling P ractices and People This technicist perspective finding is important because this justifies the ti ght focus on testing and tracking for progress towards external goals that may or may not be in line with complexity of diverse people (adults and child ren) and conditions of schools (e.g . , teacher allocation, materials, cultural and linguistic diversity o f the student population). Schooling is complex and there are many competing priorities. With the current technicist approach solutions fall within standardization, silos, data driven decision making, and more rigid responses that

PAGE 86

49 may or may not match the characteristics and conditions of students and schools. T he t hree key messages from the documents and interviews were : 1) Equity as equality, 2) Systems and structures focus on high expectations and a future orientation, and 3) culturally and linguistical ly appropriateness. Equity as equality: All/every/each . Results of a lexical search on "each", "every" , and "all" revealed that together the distinct and overlapping use of the terms present a narrative of sameness with underlying messaging that equity is eq uality. The messages within Academic Strategic Plans express an expectation that schooling practices are designed to serve a hypothetical "everystudent" and then adjustments or responses to "needs" of students different from this "normal" establishes a baseline of deficit perspective. The messages around identity and agency become subsumed into the expectations as if difference equals deficit that then needs to be mediated in order to achieve the same ends that can be measured. Interview participants spe cifically counter this deficit narrative and identify it as problematic and in need of direct countering . T ension exists between the sameness expectations , as laid out in Academic Strategic Plan documents , and th e day to day work of supporting the widely h eterogeneous and diverse population of multilingual learners to succeed within a broad range of conditions within schools . Critiquing and expressing a bit of frustration about the sameness narrative with a bit of sarcasm, Olivia noted , " I don't know if rep licability is our ultimate goal but if it is, we are on the right track for that É but I don't have [ improved standardized test data] to back that up" (interview, October 4, 2018). "All" refers to a wide range of topics throughout the documents. When ref erring to people "all" includes individuals stakeholders, employees, staff, children, stude n ts, parents/guardians, community members, families, teachers, educators, and team members. "All"

PAGE 87

50 also refers to groups schools, communities, PTAs, and school lead ership teams. In addition "all" also refers to concrete resources, technology solutions, ELA and Math Standards, subjects and grade levels, content, instruction, and assessments. The use of this term calls up a clear interest in inclusivity in addition to a commitment to sameness, the idea that access and engagement in the same activities, goals, groups, and resources is ultimately the focus and task of schooling. "Every" appears to be another term used to cultivate a sense of our collective responsibility to cultivate an inclusive environment in schools. "Everyone" is responsible, "every student, every day", also refer r ed to as every learner or every child, every graduate, and every students' journey reveals a noble and optimistic vision, if assimilationist in nature, and perhaps not realistically in tune with the very real diversity and variation in human participation in schooling structures. The term is also used to demonstrate a commitment to excellence delivering "every possible advantage", where "ever y student succeeds", and when "every child is not succeeding" it is "on us" to empower them and ultimately achieve this goal. The term "each" is often co located with "every" or "all" and appears to invoke individu a lism : each student, eac h child, each team , each school. However the term also calls to a systematic and deliberate imp lementation of laid out plans " each core belief", "each key action step", "each spring", and "each year." The messages conveyed about successful schooling are all about achieveme nt to outside pre determined standards and success that is measured by standardized tests designed to measure performance to those standards. There is also a strong individualistic messaging that comes through the descriptions of schooling that is wrapped tightly in the expectation that "all" students will individually achieve to these outside goals. This messaging that individuals have different degrees of success and therefore have different "needs" for "interventions and supports" invokes

PAGE 88

51 a deficit orie ntation for those not succeeding, despite the asset based language often used to directly describe students. It is also interesting to note that the idea of difference the acknowledgement that students may have different access and engagement with the sta ndards, curriculum, and assessments are also condensed into a single category students with " needs . " For example, "English learners, students with disabilities, gifted and talented students, and students struggling to keep pace" is presented as a unit to be considered for "unique learning paths" or "supports . " Systems and structures to achieve high expectations with a clear future orientation . Messages of the importance of preparation for students ' futures permeate the document and interview content focu sing on descri ptions of an ultimate graduate and skills and scores students will need in order to access post secondary options to name two. While a focus on providing a quality education that supports students to pursue wide ranging po st secondary opportu nities is a positive goal for schools/districts to have , this future orientation obscures the present realities and natural variation of children and adolescents . P articularly affected are those who differ culturally and linguistically from the norming pop ulation of the standardized tests and course taking patterns that serve as the gatekeeper of those very opportunities . The situation has potential for negative impact on these students' beliefs about themselves and their developing identities that are equa lly important to cultivate . Culturally and linguistically diverse education . While not representative across both districts, for the multilingual learner population in particular i t is important to note that nine times , in one of the districts, the terms "culturall y and linguistically responsive " or "relevant" were used in their documents . This is important because attention to the cultural and linguistic diversity of students and the need to take responsiveness into consideration are critical first steps

PAGE 89

52 in appropriately engaging multilingual learners in schooling. What is also important to note, though , is that the presence of the terms and concepts are a step in the right direction, at this point , although in these documents the terms are most often use d as a label and specific structural supports for what it would take to actually be relevant or responsive are les s evident. Examples of this would be "Éto provide a well rounded and culturally relevant education" or "use strategies to focus on culturally responsive education in every classroom" and "create culturally responsive learning environments". The surface level attention to cultural and linguistic responsiveness in one district and the absence of mention in the second district's Academic Strategic Plans indicate an area for improvement to specifically better engage multilingual learners and meet the promise of cultural and linguistically diverse education that are clearly embraced in the vision for the districts from both sets of interview particip ants. Excellence and s uccess . School leaders, teachers and district personnel are presented as "champions of an equity agenda" who can "empower" "inspire" and "it is upon us" to "remove school based barriers" to achievement and success . The narrative of "success of all students" is ever present in Academic Strategic Plan documents. This narrative continues even when specifying students with differences and those differences are frequently lumped together (ELLs, students with disabilities, GT, and strugg ling to keep pace) unless talking about language proficiency assessment or assessment in Spanish then ELs are talked about as a subgroup with specific needs ( i . e ., from a deficit perspective ). Language and culture are discussed as Ôassets' in graduates an d noted as points of pride and character. "Embrace and celebrate their cultural diversity" in reference to school communities. Use of assessments in language of instruction, authentic literacy asses sments, translations of interim assessments explicitly as part of the data driven systems that are at the center of solutions are also progress. Documents themselves

PAGE 90

53 specify the "persistent income, linguistic and race based opportunity and achievement gaps" yet there is little directly in the plans to recognize and address the classism, racism, and linguicism that is institutionalized in the schooling system (Carter & Welner, 2013) . Accountability and e fficiency . Accounta bility and efficiency are presen ted in documents across topics involving practices and people. The need to provide, progress monitor and track performance on everything from instructional goals to assessment of skills, to high stakes accountability measure s. Focusing on the individual student, teacher, classroom, grade level team, school, and district levels , both districts are explicit about developing systems to track and monitor progress on discrete point accountability goals. Districts must "Prioritize professional learning and deploy distributive leadership sk ills to support and empower an instructional leadership team to facilitate and/or lead data driven collaborative pla nning, professional learning, and to observe, coach, an d evaluate teachers using the Steps to Feedback with common look fors on data driven instruction." Power, i dentity , a gency . Narratives of power, identity, and agency are present but limited in documents and interviews. Power is presented in documents as " empower " with matched pairs of entities in power and those to be empowered. E xamples of how e mpowerment is used are "[The district] will empower students to graduateÉprepared to thrive in college, career, and life", "we will empower our families to be united in embracing [improvement efforts]", "empower students to take ownership", "we empower schools to make site based decisions", and " schools and teams are empowered to innovate and own key decisions". Identity and agency are each used once "building a culture that embraces the unique identity and potential of every child" and "student agency: students take ownership o f their learning by playing an active role in [choices about their education]".

PAGE 91

54 Response to R esearch Q uestion 3 : Comparing Messages and Ideologies with Literature Research Question 3 asks: How do the frames, messages, and ideologies that underlie district Academic Strategic Plans reflect, or not, what is known from the professional literature a round successful schooling for mult ilingual learners? To answer this I performed a review of the body literature around successful schooling from a critical sociocul tural perspective (Lewis, Enciso & Moje, 2007; Teemant, 2018) to better understand the body of literature around multilingual learners (See chapter 2 of this dissertation for the detailed review of the literature ). The findings fell into three major catego ries: Accountability, All/Every/Each and Excellence. Accountability Systems and structures of accountability have a clear future orientation and present as their purpose a way to establish goals and track progress towards achieving them. In addition to des cribing what they define as college, career and community readiness, Academic Strategic Plans describe how the achievement of these goals is measured and tracked in various ways. Counts and percentages are completed of students who graduate "on time" (with in four years), complete industry licensures/certifications, enroll in college, complete a capstone project, and/or take advanced/dual credit courses. Percentages of students who perform to grade level targets, particularly in reading and mathematics are c alculated. Ratios of students to district issued computers are determined. These measures are then noted and tracked in state accountability systems and are included in quality designation of districts and schools. There is a stated need to improve support s to struggling learners by improving interventions, resources and training and articulate interventions in curriculum and instructional tools. In the face of increasing academic standards and achievement gap indicators , districts

PAGE 92

55 regularly monitor progres s in reading, math and writing using standardized assessme nts (e.g. DIBELS, STA R). This monitoring data is also provided to the state for accountability purposes. Research highlights the need for English learners in particular to receive support in order to achieve success in standards based achievement efforts, and there have been specific academic behaviors identified to support students in each language domain (speaking/listening, reading, and writing) in order to support performance on CCSS instruction and assessment while students are also acquiring language proficiency (Bunch, Kibler & Pimentel, 2012). Perhaps most notably "Éi n the absence of an explicit focus on language, students from certain social class backgrounds continue to be privileged and ot hers to be disadvantaged in learning, assessment, and promotion perpetuating the obvious inequalities that exist today" (Schleppegrell, 2004, p. 3). All/Every/Each There is a narrative of sameness in Academic Strategic Plan documents and as a result there seems to be an "everykid" that schools design for and then retrofit, scaffold, and support the "needs of students different from this ' norm ' " and seen as deficient. When looking at the terms all, every, and each in the ASP documents this deficiency narrat ive becomes apparent. Messages of achievement to outside pre determined standards and success , measured by standardized tests , codifies this sameness into policy and practice in schools and establishes the deficit narrative from which these decisions stem (DaSilva Iddings, Combs, & Moll, 2012; McDermott, 2011) . The individualistic messaging and their different "needs" for "interventions and supports" e vokes a deficit orientation for th ose not succeeding, despite the asset based language often used to directly describe students. Literature calls for a more asset focused approach (Duncan An drade & Morrell, 2008; Teemant & Hausman, 2010) . Oliviera and Anthanses (2017) challenge d uniform support routines and urged re envisioning scaffolding

PAGE 93

56 based on a more individualized conceptualization of scaffolding for whom, how, and to what purpose. Re search from culturally responsive and sustaining lenses (Duncan Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Ladson Billings, 2006; Paris, 2012) provides a vision of paths forward urging more responsive practices across all elements of sch ooling to provide optimal conditions for language and concept learning, contextualized to student lives, for authentic purpose towards genuine audiences have the greatest promise for di stricts to actually achieve their stated goals of meeting every student where they are and supporting their path to success. Excellence Excellence in Academic Strategic Plan documents is narrow in scope. An example of this is i nstruction which is described as " systematic, sequential, cumulative, targeted, and explicit. " Inter vention structures and curriculum implementation are pointed out specifically as " high quality supports, interventions, and resources " to be provided to promote student achievement in every school. Literacy and math are the two content areas called out spe cific ally. A separate literacy plan developed and implemented is to include specifically " science of reading instruction " and " practical applications of concepts. " Mathematics, particularly a computational fluency model, is presented as a model to increase student achievement via targeted intervention. A directly stated goal is to increase the number of students performing at or above grade level in math. The explicit and implicit academic language and literacy demands of the standards bring challe nge for a ll students, but especially for ELs as they are learning the langu a ge of instruction while engaging with and processing content at grade level . This indicates a need to specifically prepare both pre service and in service teachers with different pedagogica l knowledge and skills, not only for specialized langua ge instruction (often called ESL or ELD) but also for grade level subject specific instruction as well (Bunch, 2013; Johnson & Wells, 2017; Kibler et al, 2015).

PAGE 94

57 Conclusion Academic Strategic Plans are documents written to outline common expectations for leading, teaching, and learning in all district schools. Interview participants and ASPs name "achievement gaps" between students who are achieving and those who are not as the central problem to address . The primary purpose of school as presented in the Academic Strategic Plan documents is to prepare all students to graduate on time, ready for college, career and community life. Data driven practices across the institution [at student, teacher, school an d district levels] are how districts are operationalizing their response to federal and state accountability policies that require eliminating these gaps. Culturally and linguistically responsive practices are mentioned in reference to general conditions t o be created in schools (e.g ., learning experiences, learning environments, and education) which indicates awareness of the need for diverse approaches for increasing achievement towards the ASP stated goal of closing those gaps, though the limited specifi city on the front end design required to do that well raises concern if design as laid out in these plans is sufficient to do so. How Academic Strategic Plans are framed changes what is included or excluded and determines how districts talk about, organize , and operationalize school. When ASPs are framed from a predominantly technicist perspective the approaches within them reflect a discrete point accountability for objective, measureable markers on a trajectory towards the achievement of standardized goal s. Identifying challenges and barriers , uncovering narratives of deficiency, and soliciting ideas about improvement sheds light on how we might reimagine schooling if framed differently. Applying a critical sociocultural frame illuminates alternative ways to talk about, organize and operationalize schooling practices so that they are more inclusive, responsive, and just for our multilingual learner population, and in so doing, maybe get closer to "for all kids."

PAGE 95

0 CHAPTER V DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS Overv iew The re are two predominant i deologies that frame the findings of this study : the first is a technicist approach to the prioritization and organization of the work of school districts found in the se two Academic Strategic Plan documents, and the second i s a critical sociocultural approach found in the literature around successful schooling for multilingual learners. Messages in these Academic Strategic Plan documents about schooling practices in the distr icts were 1 ) Equity as Equality or All/Every/Each, 2 ) Systems and structures to achieve high expectations, and 3 ) Culturally and linguistically responsive education is recognized as a need . Messages about people were about 1) Excellence and success, 2 ) Acco untability and efficiency, and 3 ) Power, identity and a gency . Next I apply the analysis of these messages and ideologies to r eimagine what an Academic Strategic Plan would need to be responsive to if designed from a critical sociocultural frame . The scope of possibility of what could go into these recomme ndations is broad and varied , because what is evident there is no one "right" way to develop a strategic plan because by nature, to be successful it would need to be responsive to the conditions of the local context the students, the teachers, the leaders hip, the community, the history, and the resources available. Impl ications F or S chool District s Recognizing that "systems, processes, and institutions are overtly and covertly designed" (Milner, 2010 , p.8, as cited in Teemant, 2018 ) and operate to maintain ex isting structural inequities in society , a reimagined Academic Strategic Plan through a critical sociocultural framework would challenge the assumptions, practices, and organizat i onal structures that mirror

PAGE 96

1 the dominant narrative of society, and are reflected in the technicist framing found in the Academic Strategic Plans of these two districts. In order to conceive of the plan one has to know wha t instruction should look like. Teemant ( 2018) highlights the potential and challenges of sociocultural theory for examining PK 12 language teacher education in order to re envision teacher preparation in ways that could change teaching and learni ng in classrooms. Specifically she examines teacher pedagogy which she names as beliefs "examined or not, supported by empirical research or purely experientially derived" (Teemant, 2018 , p. 1 ) that result i n instructional choices about materials, interactions, activities, and environments and ultimately determine experiences in the classroom. " Restructuring (which can be done by fiat) occurs time and time again, but reculturing (how teachers come to questio n and change their beliefs and habits) is what is needed" (Fullan, 2016 , p.2 3 ) . What is emerging as clear from both the data analysis and the literature in this dissertation study is that successful schooling is a complex endeavor that when approached from a technicist frame, limits and constrains possibilities for multilingual learners to high stakes performance of knowledge and skills in English. A critical sociocultural frame instead positions the full cultural and linguistic res ources of multilingual learners in expansive and generative ways. An Academic Strategic P lan framed from a critical sociocultural perspective would be deliberately and specifically responsive to the various intersections of cultural and linguistic conditio ns within the local context the students, the teachers, the leadership , the community, the history, as well as the resources available and build beyond what has traditionally been considered inclusivity, accountability, and excellence . What follows are el ements that must be attended to and considered in the process of developing an Academic Strategic Plan for schooling practices in which multilingual learners could thrive.

PAGE 97

2 Theory of Action If the theory of action of an Academic Strategic Plan were to be b ased on effective programing and pedagogy for culturally and linguistically diverse learners , it would draw from critical sociocultural theory to outline the practices communities, leaders, teachers and learners engage in together , more and less knowledgea ble others, building knowledge and skills including the language needed to think, listen, speak, read, and write about contextualized and challenging content (Lewis et al., 2007; Miramontes, Nadeau, & Commins, 2011; Teemant, 2018; Tharp, 2000) . This work would be centered precisely on what happens in classrooms that promotes high quality student learning specifically designed to c ounte r the racial, economic, and lingui stic disparities that actively perpetuate systemic inequalities i n US societies (Anyon, 2005; Howard, 2010; Lareau, 2011; Rothstein, 2004) . The theory of action would also build directly from strengths based approaches that challenge assumptions around co ntent and organization of classroom activity and seek to bring intersectional and other than dominant cultural practices into diverse classrooms , moving away from the "generic kid" focused mainstream orientation of teacher preparation and professional lear ning and instead create a "strategic alliances against exclusion" ( Alim, Baglieri, Ladson Billings, Paris, Rose & Valente, 2017 , p. 7 in response to Waitoler, 2017 ) . Rogoff et al . (2017) help us see that "classrooms are n ot culturally neutral" and provide an example of engaging cultural strength of Indigenous heritage children from North and Central America whose collaborative approaches differ greatly from the dominant cultural ways that are typically assumed to be the "One Best Way" (p. 877) unless challe nged and critiqued. When describing students , an Academic Strategic Plan from a critical sociocultural frame would draw first on Gonzalez, Moll, & Amanti's (2005) Funds of Knowledge and the evolution

PAGE 98

3 into Funds of Identity (Esteban Guitart & Moll, 2014 ; L ewis, Enciso & Moje, 2007 ) . Funds of Identity builds on and expands funds of knowledge the knowledge and skills that families use across the household that support the well being of the whole to shed light on the ways people actively use the knowledge an d skills of their specific families and communities as they develop and define themselves. Young people in school are not only in process of acquiring academic knowledge and skills that they will need for future versions of themselves, but are as well at e very stage in the process of developing their id entities (Esteban Guitart & Moll, 2014; Norton & Toohey, 2011) . These i dentities are not static, they are continuously made and remade (Roth et al., 2004) and both adul ts and children make these adjustments continuously as they navigate their day to day lived expe riences. The cultural component of identity is also not static. Culture is comprised of learned behavior situated within those lived experiences navigating home and school communities, and the use of language that is learned dependent on how families are structured, how roles and concepts of childhood are defined, and how habits of language and ways of being are socialized based on shared learning within those co mmunities ( Brisk, 2008; Gee, 2004; Heath, 1983; Nieto , 2001 ) . The theory of action would directly critique the limiting binary of "everyone who achieves" and "everyone else" found in these two Academic Strategic Plans . Annamma et al . ( 2013 ) argue that thi s conceptualization of "normal" in Westernized society and schools operates to support existing social and academic hierarchies. Critical Stance If an Academic Strategic Plan were to be designed within a critical sociocultural frame, p ractices would draw from critical pedagogies (Duncan Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Friere, 1970; Giroux, 1983/2001; McLaren 1994/2003; Teemant & Hausman, 2010). C lassroom practices

PAGE 99

4 would directly counter the "banking model of education" critiqued by Freire (1970) where students ar e seen as receptacles of schooling where information is deposited into passive student minds. Freire urged for a practice in which teachers and students work together, to exchange real ideas, classroom activity centered on dialogue and inquiry into actual problems and phenomena in the world. Academic Strategic Plans should promote classroom environments with the capacity to "read the world" in order to "read the word" (Freire & Macedo, 1987) along with "dialogic and problem posing" practices that center tea chers and students together exploring and challenging inequities and challenges in the ir own schools and communities. An ASP from this perspective would draw from Teemant's (2018) critical sociocultural theory project , which provided professional learning and coaching cycles to support teachers to adopt the Six Standards of Effective Pedagogy first established as Five Standards of Effective Pedagogy (Tharp, Estrada, Dalton, and Yamauchi, 2000) Ð and its additional sixth standard Critical Stance (Teemant, Le land & Berghoff, 2014). In a plan from this perspective p rofessional learning and coaching would be built into the systems and structures across the district in order to facilitate teacher and leader learning responsive to addressing the systemic inequitie s of society as reflected in the very conditions of their schools (Teemant, Leland, & Berghoff, 2014) . Langua ge and Literacy Development /I nstructional Conversation An Academic Strategic Plan framed from a critical sociocultural perspective would attend directly to the langu age and literacy development of all learners, taking into account and building from multilingual learners' complete and complex cultural and linguistic repertoires to build social, academic, and communicative competence for participati on in local and global society (Alim, Ibrahim, & Pennycook, 2008; Miramontes et al., 2011; Pennycook, 2010) . Language and literacy instruction would c ome from a theory of learning based in meaning

PAGE 100

5 making (Gebhard, Demers, & Castillo Rosenthal, 2008; Halliday, 1993) and would build upon understandings of concepts and application of knowledge and skills, to develop and expand the linguistic repertoires used to think about, talk, and write . Language and literacy development would also build from practices that accept t ranslanguaging a s the way bilinguals and multilinguals operate from one conceptual and linguistic reservoir, th i nking, listening, speaking, reading, and writing in each, both , and at times combined languages with other bilinguals drawing on the richness of expression possible when more than one language is known (Garcia, Ibarra Johnson, & Selt zer, 2017; Garcia & Wei, 2014 ) . Rigor/Contextualization/C hallengi ng A ctivities It has long been noted that teacher expectation of student achievement has direct impact on student performance (de Boer, Timmermans, & van der Werf, 2018) . Many scholars have identified potential opportunit ies to both critique and improve schooling practices within the context of the C o mmon Core standards initiatives (Heritage, Walqui, & Linquanti, 2015; ValdÂŽ s, Menken, & Castro, 2015) . Specifically noted as potential advantage is the focused attention on essential skills needed to engage with rigorous content and learning tasks . This is posited as an alternati ve approach in order to counter ins truction that has traditionally held low expectations of student s from marginalized backgrounds, a common reality in grade level classrooms (de Boer et al., 2018; Milner, 2010; Olson, Matuchniak, Chung, Stumpf, & Farkas, 2017) . C omplex texts and active and meaningful tasks can be leveraged to support higher level tasks and a shift in the dialogue from deficit to asset based thinking for multilingual learners (Heritage et al., 2015; Kibler, ValdÂŽs, & Walqui, 2014) . Academic Strategic Plans, while positing high expectations for all students , can gain advantage from moving beyond advocacy for high levels o f the content itself, but provide a

PAGE 101

6 clearer focus on inclusive pedagogy the planning and engagement strategies used to provide active, meaning based, and highly engaging learning environments of classroom s . When pedagogy and practice entails teach ers and students together engaging in meaningful work that is relevant to students' lives, where together they analyze authentic phenomena and producing authentic products that demonstrate knowledge and skills , it provides learning experiences that will serve stud ents in the world be yond school . An Academic Strategic Plan that takes this to heart would support critical pedagogy practices that build on students' lived experiences and the known of their communities, while simultaneously building the knowledge and pra ctices of power that can serve to assist students to transcend the gatekeeping function academic content and manner has previously served (Cammarota & Romero, n.d.; D uncan Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Schultz, 2008) . Re imagin ing An Academic Strategic Plan While focused on a population different from multilingual learners, specifically students who are differently abled, t he Leading for All P roject (Hargreaves et al., 2012) offers a vision of possibility for planning for schooling specific to the success of one population that also benefits and fits learners not identified within the special population. The Leading for All project looked specifically at strategic school reform to design schooling that actively involve s students qualifying for special education (students on IEPs) and promotes their academic success by design , based on structures and practices that are essential for some, good for all (ESGA). They found that "one of the most remarkable and distinctive examples of strategic reform strategy worldwide " (p.14) was importantly in contrast with the more common approach Glob al Education Reform Movement (GERM) driven by centralized top down control, market competition between schools, standardization, assumptions about change that shifts in practice

PAGE 102

7 drive shifts in beliefs, data driven improvement through tracking, monitoring, and intervention, high stakes testing and threshold targets, low status and marginal importance of special education, managed separately and secondarily to general reform. Essential for Some, Good for All (ESGA) drivers leading from the middle, building a sset and strength based beliefs that can and do shift before practice (as well as vice versa) , explicit responsiveness to student diversity, an environment of collective responsibility that puts faces on student achievement data, asse ssment design and impl ementation from a diagnostic, growth and progress perspective where measures have more positive impact on teaching and learning than tracking student progress towards threshold targets on standardized assessments, finds technolo gy beneficial when integrate d with effective pedagogy, and where personalization goes beyond customization of existing learning to go broader or deeper to extend meaning and engagement for all kinds of students. An Academic Strategic Plan developed on these same principles for multi lingual learners , to by design engage students' entire cultural a nd linguistic repertoires would draw from a critical sociocultural perspective which would provide challenging learning experiences grounded in students' lived experiences while expanding int o new and unknown knowledge and skills that help them recognize and learn to navigate systems of power and privilege. An ASP would draw from sociocultural theories such as the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978), scaffolding (Wood, Bruner & Ross, 1973) and gradual release of responsibility (Pearson & Gallagher, 1976) to develop learning experiences that would be designed to build from the known to new. It would be built on the assumption that learning happens in communities of practice (Lave and W enger, 1991), collaboratively in ways that teachers and students co assist each other ' s learning, and with collective end goals that build on individual strength and

PAGE 103

8 establish knowledge and skills across the group. An ASP from a critical sociocultural fram e would also operate on the assumption that lea rning i s cultural (Rogoff , 2003 ) and be inclusive of different ways of know ing, being, and using language. This would necessitate that instruction be multimodal (e.g ., in written, auditory, multi media, visual forms), assignments would be varied and based on meaning making, with explicit instruction to develop repertoires of linguistic elements that comprise academic commu nication. Students would then draw from these conceptual and linguistic repertoires to mak e concrete decisions about their constructions, orally or in writing, for genuine purposes towards authentic audiences. Practical Suggestions What Districts and Leaders Can Do Now Operating within the context of federally sanctioned high stakes test based accountability that drives ratings, funding, and accreditation, school districts and their leaders would be challenged to pivot to a critical sociocultural Academic Strategic Plan under current circumstances. Making such a shift would require explicit cri tique, advocacy, and change not only of decisions and policies within the purview of schools and districts, but shifts in policy and practice on sociopolitical realms as well . While those larger social and political initiatives are important if we are to m ake the changes necessary to break down systemic inequalities and provide greater justice as a society, and therefore schools, there are several key shifts that can be made in schools today to work in that direction. Counter deficit narratives and place multilingual learners at the forefront . O ne place where districts and leaders can start is to actively counter deficit narratives around learners, learning, and language . Drawing from Miramontes et al . ( 2011 ), districts can challenge und erlying assumptions and apply principles that support a deep analysis of the conditions and resources available to their schools, and design programming and implementation accordingly.

PAGE 104

9 Drawing from Teemant ( 2018 ), districts could provide professional learn ing that supports shifts to a more critical stance, building strong learner centered, responsive pedagogies. Districts could re conceptualize how they a nalyze data and consider the English learner population an Ever EL categorization which draws from what students are able to show in assessment once they have developed a full proficiency in English, not just the deficit orientation of only counting the achievement of the population before they achieve full proficiency. Conclusion There are two predominant ideologies that frame the findings of this study: the first is a technicist approach to the prioritization and organization of the work of school districts found in the Academic Strategic Plan documents, and the second is a critical sociocultural approach found in the literature around successful schooling for multilingual learners. Messages in these Academic Strategic Plan documents about schooling practices in the distr icts were 1 ) Equity as Equality or All/Every/Each, 2 ) Systems and structures to achiev e high expectations, and 3 ) Culturally and linguistically responsive education is recognized as a need . Messages about people were about 1) Excellence and success, 2 ) Acco untability and efficiency, and 3) Power, identity and a gency . Applying a critical soc iocultural frame to the basic tenets of an Academic Strategic Plan allows for reimagining what plans could include and how districts might approach better serving their multilingual learners and provide equitable schooling for all students.

PAGE 105

10 REFERENCES Abedi, J. (20 08). Classification system for E nglish language learners: Issues and recommendations. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 27 (3), 17 31. doi:10.1111/j.1745 3992.2008.00125.x Adams, P. (2016). Education policy: Explainin g, framing and forming. Journal of Education Policy, 31 (3), 290 307. doi:10.1080/02680939.2015.1084387 Alim, H. S., Baglieri, S., Ladson Billings, G., Paris, D., Rose, D. H., & Valente, J. M. (2017). Responding to "cross pollinating culturally sustaining p edagogy and universal design for learning: Toward an inclusive pedagogy that accounts for Dis/Ability.". Harvard Educational Review, 87 (1), 4. Alim, H. S., Ibrahim, A., & Pennycook, A. (2008). Global l inguisti c f lows . New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203892787 Altheide, D. L., & Schneider, C. J. (2013). Qualitative m edia a nalysis (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage Publications. Annamma, S. A., BoelÂŽ, A. L., Moore, B. A., & Klingner, J. (2013). Challen ging the ideology of normal in schools. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17 (12), 1278 1294. doi:10.1080/13603116.2013.802379 Au, W. (2011). Teaching under the new Taylorism: High stakes testing and the standardization of the 21st century curri culum. Journal of Curriculum Studies , 43 (1), 25 45. August, D., Shanahan, L., & National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth (U.S.). (2006). Developing literacy in second language learners: Report of the national literacy panel on langua ge minority children and youth . Mahwah, N.J;Washington, D.C;: Lawrence Erlbaum. Bacchi, C., & Bonham, J. (2014). Reclaiming discursive practices as an analytic focus: Political implications. Foucault studies , (17), 179 192. Bambrick Santoyo, P. (2010). Dri ven by data: A practical guide to improve instruction . c San Francisco : Jossey Bass. Bambrick Santoyo, P., & Peiser, B. M. (2012). Leverage leadership: A practical guide to building exceptional schools . San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. Benford, R. D., & Snow , D. A. (2000). Framing processes and social movements: An overview and assessment. Annual Review of Sociology, 26 (1), 611 639. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.26.1.611 Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and symbolic power . Boston: Harvard University Press. Bourdieu, P ., & Passerson, J. C. (1977). Reproduction in education and society . London: Sage

PAGE 106

11 Publications. Boykin, A. W., & Noguera, P. (2011). Creating the opportunity to learn: Moving from r esearch to p ractice to c lose the a chievement g ap . Alexandria, VA : ASCD. Bra zer, S. D., Rich, W., & Ross, S. A. (2010). Collaborative strategic decision making in school districts. Journal of Educational Administration , 48 (2), 196 Ð 217. https://doi.org/10.1108/09578231011027851 Brisk, M. E. (2008). Language, culture, and community in teacher education . New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Bryk, A. S. (2010). Organizing schools for improvement: Research on C hicago school improvement indicates that improving elementary schools requires coherent, orchestrated action across five essen tial supports. Phi Delta Kappan, 91 (7), 23. Bunch, G. C. (2013). Pedagogical language knowledge: Preparing mainstream teachers for E nglish learners in the new standards era. Review of Research in Education, 37 (1), 298 341. doi:10.3102/0091732X12461772 Bunc h, G. C., Kibler, A., & Pimentel, S. (2012). Realizing opportunities for English learners in the common core English language arts and disciplinary literacy standards. Stanford, CA: Understanding Language Initiative. Retrieved March , 25 , 2013. Cammarota, J ., & Romero, A. (n.d.). Participatory a ction r esearch for h igh s chool s tudents : Transforming p olicy , p ractice , and the p ersonal w ith s ocial j ustice e ducation . Educational Policy , 25 (3), 488 Ð 506. https://doi.org/10.1177/0895904810361722 Carter, P. L., & Wel ner, K. G. (2013). Closing the o pportunity g ap : What America m ust d o to g ive e very c hild an e ven c hance . City: Publisher. Cazden, C. B., Leggett, E. L. (1976). Culturally responsive education: A response to LAU remedies II . Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Common Core State Standards Initiative. CCSSI (2010). Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts . Cimpian, J. R., Thompson, K. D., & Makowski, M. B. (2017). Evaluating English l earner r eclassification p olicy e ffects a cross d istricts . American Educational Research Journal , 54 (1_suppl), 255S Ð 278S. https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831216635796 Conley, D. T. (1993). Roadmap to restructuring: P olicies , practices, and the emerging visions of schooling . ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, University of Oregon. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED359593 Creed, W. E. D., Langstraat, J. A., & Scully, M. A. (2002). A picture of the frame. Organizational Research Methods , 34 (5), 34 Ð 55.

PAGE 107

12 Danielson, C. (2002). Enhanc ing student achievement: A framework for school improvement . Alexandria, V A : Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Darling Hammond, L. (2015). The flat world and education: How America's commitment to equity will determine our future . Tea chers College Press. DaSilva Iddings, A. C., Combs, M. C., & Moll, L. (2012). In the a rid z one : Drying o ut e ducational r esources for English l anguage l earners t hrough p olicy and p ractice . Urban Education , 47 (2), 495 Ð 514. https://doi.org/10.1177/00420859114 30713 de Boer, H., Timmermans, A. C., & van der Werf, M. P. C. (2018). The effects of teacher expectation interventions on teachers' expectations and student achievement: N arrative review and meta analysis. Educational Research and Evaluation , 24 (3 Ð 5), 180 Ð 200. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2018.1550834 Duguay, A., Massoud, L., Tabaku, L., Himmel, J., & Sugarman, J. (2013). Implementing the Common Core for English learners: Responses to common questions (Practitioner Brief). Washington, DC: Center for Ap plied Linguistics. Dixon, L. Q., Zhao, J., Shin, J., Wu, S., Su, J., Burgess Brigham, R., . . . Snow, C. (2012). What we know about second language acquisition: A synthesis from four perspectives. Review of Educational Research, 82 (1), 5 60. doi:10.3102/00 34654311433587 Duncan Andrade, J., & Morrell, E. (2008). The a rt of c ritical p edagogy . New York: Peter Lang. Esteban Guitart, M., & Moll, L. C. (2014). Lived experience, funds of identity and education. Culture and Psychology , 20 (1), 70 Ð 81. https://doi.org /10.1177/1354067X13515940 Fr‡nquiz, M. E., & Ortiz, A. A. (2016). Co editors' introduction: Every Student Succeeds Act Ñ A policy shift. Bilingual Research Journal , 39 (1), 1 Ð 3. https://doi.org/10.1080/15235882.2016.1148996 Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed . New York: Continuum. Freire, P., & Freire, A. M. A. (1994). Pedagogy of hope: Reliving pedagogy of the oppressed . New York: Continuum. Fullan, M. (2016). The n ew m eaning of e ducational c hange . New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia Universit y. Garc’a, O., Johnson, S. I., Seltzer, K., & ValdŽs, G. (2017). The translanguaging classroom: Leveraging student bilingualism for learning . Philadelphia, PA: Caslon. Garc’a, O., Kleifgen, J. A., & Falchi, L. (2008). From English l anguage l earners to e mer gent b ilinguals . A r esearch i nitiative of the Campaign for Educational Equity. Equity Matters: Research Review , 1 (1). Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED524002.pdf Garc’a, O., & Wei, L. (2014). Translanguaging: Language, bilingualism and ed ucation . London:

PAGE 108

13 Palgrave Macmillan. Gay, G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice . New York: Teachers College Press. Gebhard, M., Demers, J., & Castillo Rosenthal, Z. (2008). Teachers as critical text analysts: L2 literac ies and teachers' work in the context of high stakes school reform. Journal of Second Language Writing , 17 (4), 274 Ð 291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2008.05.001 Gee, J. P. (2004). An introduction to discourse analysis: Theory and method . New York : R outledge. Giroux, H. A. (1988). Teachers as intellectuals: Toward a critical pedagogy of learning . Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. Goddard, R. D., Hoy, W. K., & Hoy, A. W. (2000). Collective teacher efficacy: Its meaning, measure, and impact on s tudent achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 37 (2), 479 507. doi:10.3102/00028312037002479 Goffman, E. (1974). Frame a nalysis . Boston: Harvard University Press. Goldenberg, C. (2014). Unlocking the research on English learners. The Education Digest. 79(6),36. Halliday, M. A. K. (1993). Towards a l anguage b ased t heory of l earning . Linguistics and Educataion (Vol. 5). Retrieved from http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Paper/JuneJuly05/HallidayLangBased.pdf Hargreaves, A., Braun, H., Hughes, M., Chapman, L. , Gurn, A., Ling, W., É Welch, M. (2012). Leading for All e xecutive s ummary : A research report of the development, design, implementation and impact of Ontario's "Essential for Some, Good for All" initiative . Retrieved from http://www.ontariodirectors.ca/d ownloads/Essential_ExecSummary_Final.pdf Hattie, J.A.C. (2003, October). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? Paper presented at the Building Teacher Quality: What does the research tell us ACER Research Conference , Melbourne, Austral ia. Retrieved from http://research.acer.edu.au/research_conference_2003/4/ Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life and work in communities and classrooms . Cambridge : Cambridge U niversity Press. Heritage, M., Walqui, A., & Linquanti, R. (2015) . English l anguage l earners and the n ew s tandards . Cambridge , MA : Harvard University Press. Hightower, A. M., Knapp, M. S., Marsh, J. A., & McLaughlin, M. W. (2002). The district role in instructional renewal: Setting the stage for dialogue. New York : Teac hers College Press .

PAGE 109

14 Hopkins, M., Thompson, K. D., Linquanti, R., August, D., & Hakuta, K. (2013). Fully a ccounting for English l earner p erformance . Educational Researcher , 42 (2), 101 Ð 108. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189x12471426 Howard, T. C. (2010). Why r ace and culture matter in schools: closing the achievement gap in America's classrooms . New York: Teachers College Press. Johnson, T., & Wells, L. (2017). English language learner teacher effectiveness and the common core. Education Policy Analysis Archive s, 25 , 23. doi:10.14507/epaa.25.2395 Kaufman, R. (2018). Characteristics of u seful and p ractical o rganizational s trategic p lans . Educational Technology , 54 (1), 37 Ð 39. Kibler, A., ValdŽs, G., & Walqui, A. (2014). What d oes s tandards based e ducational r eform m ean for English l anguage l earner p opulations in p rimary and s econdary s chools ? TESOL Quarterly , 48 (3), 433 Ð 453. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.183 Kibler, A. K., Walqui, A., & Bunch, G. C. (2015). Transformational opportunities: Language and literacy instr uction for E nglish language learners in the common core era in the U nited S tates . TESOL Journal, 6 (1), 9 35. doi:10.1002/tesj.133 Kieffer, M. J., & Thompson, K. D. (2018). Hidden p rogress of m ultilingual s tudents on NAEP. Educational Researcher , 47 (6), 001 3189X1877774. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189x18777740 Kim, J. (2018). School accountability and standard based education reform: The recall of social efficiency movement and scientific management. International Journal of Educational Development, 60 , 80 8 7. doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2017.11.003 Ladson Billings, G.J. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Education Research Journal , 35 , 465 491. Ladson Billings, G. (2006). 2006 Presidential a ddress f rom the a chievement g ap to the e du cation d ebt ! : Understanding a chievement in U. S. s chools . Educational Researcher , 35 (October 2006), 3 Ð 12. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X035007003 Lane, R. J., Bishop, H. L., & Wilson Jones, L. (2013). Creating an effective strategic plan for the school d istrict. Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling , 53 (3), 1689 Ð 1699. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004 Lareau, A. (2011). Unequal c hildhoods : Class, race, and family life (2nd ed.). Berkeley , CA : University of California Press. Retrieved fro m http://tinyurl.com/y92eotzy Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991 ). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participa tion. C ambridge , UK : Cambridge University Press. Leithwood, K., & Azah, V. N. (2017). Characteristics of high performing school districts. Leader ship and Policy in Schools , 16 (1), 27 53.

PAGE 110

15 Lewis, C., Enciso, P., & Moje, E. B. (2007). Reframing sociocultural research on literacy: Identity, agency and power . Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates. Linquanti, R. (2001). The redesignation dilemma: Chal lenges and choices in fostering meaningful accountability for English learners. WestEd: University of California Linguistic Mi nority Research Institute. Linquanti, R., Cook, H. G., Bailey, A. L., & MacDonald, R. (2016). Moving toward a more common definiti on of English learner: Collected guidance for states and multi state assessment consortia. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers . Marzano, R. J., Marzano, J. S., & Pickering, D. (2003). Classroom management that works: Research based strat egies for every teacher . Alexandria, VA : ASCD McDermott, K. A. (2011). High stakes reform: the politics of educational accountability . Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/y82hdsfe McLaren, P. (1989). Life in scho ols: Introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education . New York: Longman. McLaren, P., & Kinchloe, J. (2007). Critical pedagogy: Where are we now? Critical p edagogy in the t wenty first c entury : Evolution for s urvival . New York: Peter Lang. Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Salda–a, J. (2014). Quali tative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (Third ed.). Thousand Oaks, Califorinia: SAGE Publications, Inc. Milner, H. R. (2010). Start where you are, but don't stay there: U nderstanding diversity, opportunity gaps, and teaching in today's classrooms . Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED515443 Miramontes, O. B., Nadeau, A., & Commins, N. L. (2011). Restructuring s chools for l inguistic d iversity . New York: Teachers College, Columbia University. Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into practice , 31 (2), 132 141. Nev‡rez La Torre, A. A. (2012). Transiency in urban schools: Chal lenges and opportunities in educating ELLs with a migrant background. Education and Urban Society, 44 (1), 3 34. doi:10.1177/0013124510380911 Nieto, S. (2001). Language, culture, and teaching: Critical perspectives . New York : Routledge. Norton, B., & Toohey , K. (2011). Identity, language learning, and social change. Language Teaching , 44 (4), 412 Ð 446. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444811000309 OELA. (2016). English Learners' (ELs') t rends from the nation's report card . Retrieved f rom: http://www2.ed.gov/about/ offices/list/oela/index.html

PAGE 111

16 Oliveira, L. C., & Athanases, S. Z. (2017). A framework to reenvision instructional scaffolding for linguistically diverse learners. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 61 (2), 123 129. doi:10.1002/jaal.663 Olson, C. B., Mat uchniak, T., Chung, H. Q., Stumpf, R., & Farkas, G. (2017). Reducing achievement gaps in academic writing for Latinos and English learn r ers in grades 7 12. Journal of Educational Psychology , 109 (1), 1 Ð 21. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000095 Pappamihiel, N. E., & Walser, T. M. (2009). English language learners and complexity theory: Why current accountability systems do not measure up. The Educational Forum, 73 (2), 133 140. doi:10.1080/00131720902739544 Paris, D. (2012). Culturally s ustaining p edagogy . Educat ional Researcher , 41 (3), 93 Ð 97. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189x12441244 Pearson, P.D., & Gallagher, M.C. (1983). The instruction of reading comprehension. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8 , 317 34 Pennycook, A. (2010). Language as a l ocal p ractice . New York : Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203846223 Poza, L. (2015). Barreras: Language ideologies, academic language, and the marginalization of Latin@ English language learners. Whittier L. Rev. , 37 , 401. Reeves, D. B., & DuFour, R. B. (2018). Nex t generation accountability. School Administrator, 75 (2), 34 36. Robinson, D. V. (2017). Collaborative partnerships between high poverty and minority parents and educational leaders. Journal for Multicultural Education, 11 (1), 2 18. doi:10.1108/JME 11 2015 0035 Robinson Cimpian, J. P., & Thompson, K. D. (2016). The effects of changing test based policies for reclassifying E nglish learners: Reclassification policy effects. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 35 (2), 279 305. doi:10.1002/pam.21882 Rogof f, B. (2003). The c ultural n ature of h uman d evelopment . Oxford, UK : Oxford University Press. Rogoff, B. (2012). Learning in c ultural c ontext : Developing d estinies . Childhood Education , 88 (5), 324 Ð 325. https://doi.org/10.1080/00094056.2012.718615 Rogoff, B. , Coppens, A. D., Alcal‡, L., Aceves Azuara, I., Ruvalcaba, O., L—pez, A., & Dayton, A. (2017). Noticing learners' strengths through cultural research. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12 (5), 876 888. doi:10.1177/1745691617718355 Roth, W. M., Tobin, K., Elmesky, R., Carambo, C., Mcknight, Y. M., & Beers, J. (2004). Mind, c ulture , and a ctivity r e / m aking i dentities in the p raxis of u rban s chooling : A c ultural h istorical p erspective . Culture, and Activity , 11 (1), 48 Ð 69.

PAGE 112

17 https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327884m ca1101_4 Rothstein, R. (2004). Class and schools: Using social, economic, and educational reform to close the black white achievement gap. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University. Rutherford, C. (2003). Planning to change: Strategic planning and co mprehensive school reform. Educational Planning , 18 (1), 1 Ð 11. Samson, J. F., & Lesaux, N. K. (2014). Disadvantaged language minority students and their teachers: A national picture. Teachers College Record, 117 (2), 1. Saunders, W. M., & Marcelletti, D. J. (2012). The gap that can't go away: The catch 22 of reclassification in monitoring the progress of E nglish learners. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis , 35 (2), 139 Ð 156. https://doi.org/10.3102/0162373712461849 Scanlan, M., & L—pez, F. (2012) Vamos! How school leaders promote equity and excellence for bilingual students. Educational Administration Quarterly, 48(4), 583 625. doi:10.1177/0013161X11436270 Schleppegrell, M. J. (2004). The language of schooling: A functional linguistics perspective . New Y ork : Routledge. Schmoker, M. (2003). First things first: Demystifying data analysis. Educational Leadership, 60 (5), 22. Schultz, B. D. (2008). Spectacular t hings h appen a long t he w ay : Lessons from an u rban c lassroom . New York: Teachers College Press, Colum bia University. Sharp, L. A. (2016). ESEA r eauthorization : An o verview of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Texas Journal of Literacy Education , 4 (1), 9 Ð 13. Retrieved from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=tru e&db =eric&AN=EJ1110854&site=eds live&scope=site Simon, C., Lewis, S., Uro, G., Uzzell, R., Palacios, M., & Casserly, M. (2011). Today's p romise , t omorrow's f uture : The s ocial and e ducational f actors c ontributing to the o utcomes of Hispanics in u rban s chool s . Washington DC: Council of the Great City Schools . Strunk, K. O., Marsh, J. A., Bush Mecenas, S. C., & Duque, M. R. (2016). The b est l aid p lans . Educational Administration Quarterly , 52 (2), 259 Ð 309. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X15616864 Teemant, A. ( i n press ). Sociocultural t heory as e veryday p ractice : The Challenge of PK 12 t eacher p reparation for m ultilingual and m ulticultural l earners . Teemant, A., & Hausman, C. (2010). The r elationship of t eacher u se of c ritical s ociocultural p ractices with s tuden t a chievement . Critical Education , 1 (4), 1 Ð 20. Teemant, A., Leland, C., & Berghoff, B. (2014). Development and validation of a measure of

PAGE 113

18 Critical Stance for instructional coaching. Teaching and Teacher Education , 39 , 136 Ð 147. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tat e.2013.11.008 Tharp, R. G., Estrada, P., Dalton, S. S., & Yamauchi, L. A. (2000). Teaching transformed. Achieving excellence, fairness, inclusion, and harmony . New York: Routledge. Thompson, K. D. (2017). English learners' time to reclassification: An anal ysis. Educational Policy, 31 (3), 330 363. doi:10.1177/0895904815598394 Umansky, I. M. (2016). To b e or n ot to b e an EL. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis , 38 (4), 714 Ð 737. https://doi.org/10.3102/0162373716664802 Umansky, I. M., & Reardon, S. F. (2 014). Reclassification patterns among Latino English learner students in bilingual, dual immersion, and English immersion classrooms. Americal Educational Research Journal, 51 (5), 879 912. doi:10.3102/0002831214545110 Valdes, G., Menken, K., & Castro, M. ( 2015). Common c ore , b ilingual and English l anguage l earners : A r esource for e ducators . Philadelphia: Caslon Publishing. Valencia, R. R. (2015). Students of color and the achievement gap: S ystematic challenges, systematic transformations . New York: Routledg e. V an Lier, L., & Walqui, A. (2012). Language and the common core state standards. Commissioned Papers on Language and Literacy Issues in the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards , 94 , 44. Vygotsky, L. S., & Cole, M. (1978). Mi nd in Society . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Vygotsky, L. S., & Kozulin, A. (1986). Thought and Language . Boston: MIT Press. Wertsch, J. V. (1991). Voices of the mind: A sociocultural approach to mediated action . Cambridge, MA: Harvard Universit y Press. Wood, D., Bruner, J. & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17.

PAGE 114

19 APPENDIX A Document Analysis Protocol For Academic Strategic Plans What is the content and organization of these Academic Strategic Plans? What is the problem? How is it defined? (Creed, 2002 ; Coburn, 2009 ) Problem description/overview How are mult ilingual learners represented? (RQs) Words used to describe Ideas/concepts expressed Multil ilingual learners singled out or part of Ôall' Specificity around language as part of learning and assessment Other (this is a place holder for representations not predicted) How is successful schooling described? W hat criteria are present? What criteria are absent? (RQ) What solutions are offered to address the problems? Solution description/overview What do plans identify as the source/s of the problem? What do plans identify as the source/s of the solutions? Wha t counts as successful schooling/factors that close achievement gap s? Use of specific word/concept(s) (if this emerges list different ways certain words/phrases/concepts are used within this section) (A& S, 2013 , p. 49 ) Theme(s)/ Ideology(ies) recurring and typical theses in Academic Strategic Plan documents (even beyond this study)

PAGE 115

20 Frame(s) essentially Ôsuper themes' (A&S, 2013, p. 53) that focus and act as a parameter or boundary for discussing [topic/s] from a particular perspective and affect how and what is included and/or included in the discussion