Addressing the academic achievement of at-risk students through a leadership team approach
Establishing learning environments and instructional practices that are conducive to at-risk students' learning is a daunting task for today's school leaders especially in the midst of federal, state, and local accountability mandates. Academic, social, and economic risk factors add to the complexity of at-risk student learning. The purpose of this single case study was to explore the perceptions and behaviors of a team of school leaders that led to the academic achievement of at-risk students in an urban high school. The research question in this study was approached through a qualitative single case study methodology to identify school leader attributes, beliefs, and behaviors that contributed to the academic achievement of at-risk students. Data was collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews, observation/field notes, document reviews, and reflective journal entries. The school principal, four academic deans/assistant principals, and a lead counselor were purposefully selected based on their leadership capacity at the research site. Results from the study revealed a strong cohesion among the team of school leaders that helped to establish an environment that met student learning needs. Effective relationships between the leadership team and stakeholders prompted a communal effort to address academic achievement. Additionally, school leaders were found to take an active role in promoting instructional practices that were both goal oriented and responsive to student needs.