Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mary Hallums


The research problem addressed in this qualitative case study is the need to understand elementary school principals' instructional leadership practices supporting academically marginalized students. Instructional leadership practices to "close the achievement gap" are imperative to document, so that best practices can be highlighted and disseminated among educational institutions that face similar challenges. The conceptual framework of the principal instructional management theory is used to explore instructional leadership through 3 dimensions: managing the instructional program, defining the school mission, and fostering academic achievement. Semistructured interviews and thematic analysis were conducted to collect and analyze data from 11 elementary principals in response to research questions on supports for academically marginalized students. Data was analyzed by reviewing interview responses and assigning codes to identify common themes. The resulting themes are: (a) principals foster academic achievement by hiring and developing teachers and data analysis, (b) principals use strategic planning and community involvement to define the school mission and vision, and (c) principals implement and monitor student instructional supports when implementing high quality curriculum in the classroom. Supporting academically marginalized students at the elementary level has implications for social change, including building a strong foundation to support increased graduation rates, reducing dropout rates, weakening school to prison pipelines, and marginalized populations that are better prepared to become productive members of mainstream society.