Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kathryn Swetnam


High school graduation is a gateway opportunity for higher education and economic self-sufficiency. Ethnic minority students face challenges accumulating academic credits to graduate high school within 4 years. Researchers found that school leaders are second only to classroom teachers in the influence they have on student achievement. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to investigate the perceptions of urban high school administrators concerning their transformational leadership practices and their influence on African American and Hispanic students achieving high school graduation in the southwestern United States. The transformational leadership framework of Burns and Bass guided this study. The research questions focused on the transformational leadership practices of high school administrators to support African American and Hispanic academic achievement and high school graduation. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with a purposively-selected sample of 11 urban high school administrators with a minimum of 3 years’ experience at the high school level. A priori, open, and pattern coding were used to support content analysis. Participants perceived that cultural dynamics, collaboration, and increased student involvement are needed to improve African American and Hispanic academic achievement and graduation. Time should be allocated for staff development, including common planning and goal setting, for extracurricular opportunities that address diverse interests, for fostering genuine relationships, and for building capacity within the school and the community. High school administrators have the unique opportunity to offer positive social change and hope for African American and Hispanic students by using transformational leadership practices to increase graduation.