Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Administration

Major Professor

Pamela Angelle

Committee Members

J. Patrick Biddix, Mary Lynn Derrington, Clara Lee Brown


The passage of Title III under No Child Left Behind of 2001 established new accountability mandates to meet the educational needs of English Learners (ELs), but refrained from prescription of how school principals should implement those policies (Cummins, 2012; Cummins, 2011; Hakuta, 2011; Menken, 2010; Menken, 2009; Wright & Pu, 2005; Kindler, 2002; Bainbridge & Lasley, 2000; Walqui, 2000; Reyes, Scribner, & Scribner, 1999). School principals face the challenges to comply with federal policy mandates for ELs, and lack appropriate preparation germane to EL education. This disconnect between federal policy making and local implementation is particularly problematic in pre-emerging gateway states for immigration that have experienced greater than 200% increase in the EL population since 2000. The purpose of this study was to determine how the passage of Title III under No Child Left Behind of 2001 influences the agency of school principals to support the education of English Learners. The passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 increased the importance placed on school principals to improve student achievement and narrow achievement gaps between ELs and non-ELs. A qualitative narrative inquiry was employed to tell the story of four school principals who served in administration prior to and after the passage of Title III under NCLB and. Data collection included personal interviews with the school principals to determine the influence of that legislation on their ability to educate ELs. Within case and cross-case analyses were conducted to extract the themes from these oral histories related to school leadership and implementation of federal mandates for accountability. With strong evidence from these oral histories, three themes were developed regarding the school principal’s ability to meet the educational needs of ELs: initial barriers, dealing with change, and implementing the law. Their interpretations and implementations of federal policy were examined to determine the contributions of school principals to educate ELs and to recognize their successes and failures.

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