Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Trenia Walker

Second Advisor

Colette M. Taylor

Third Advisor

Shomari Jones


Complex problems such as the achievement gap need to be presented to all the stakeholders in the school community to utilize their combined expertise. This requires a specific language to encourage all the stakeholders in the process. Effective leaders achieve this through the principles of transformative leadership by communicating in a way that motivates, challenges, and encourages cooperation. This qualitative comparative case study utilized a document analysis to understand the barriers and solutions to family–school collaboration and leadership solutions to narrow the achievement gap in a highly resourced district. This district recently passed an equity initiative that called for the "consistent collection and examination of the critical criterion" that improves family and community engagement (see Appendix A, p. 5). Seattle University (SU) student researchers compared the District Annual Strategic Plan and two Elementary School Improvement Plans (belonging to the highest- and lowest-performing elementary schools, based on test scores) to determine their congruence, compare their practices to the literature documenting the achievement gap, and assess the leadership language of these documents. The researchers coded for autocratic leadership language that works against family–school collaboration and transformative leadership language that supports family–school collaboration. They triangulated their findings to identify recommendations at the individual building and district level regarding the use of leadership language in documents and outlining improvement efforts to close the achievement gap as it relates to the relevant literature.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.