Wendy Crocker’s PhD

Wendy Crocker’s PhD is now publicly available here.  Those of us who have been fortunate enough to be present at the Literacy Research Discussion Group when Wendy has presented her research, have been completely entranced.  Here’s the title and abstract of her thesis.

Crocker, Wendy A., “Telling tales out of school: Principals’ narratives of the relationship between school literacy and the home literacy practices of a minoritized culture” (2013). University of Western Ontario – Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. Paper 1458.

Much of the literature in the area of school leadership pertains to the role of the principal in school improvement – specifically in raising reading and writing scores in large-scale assessments. However, what is less represented is how administrators who are confronted daily with the socially constructed and multiple representations ofliteracies demonstrated by the English Language Learners in their schools view the focus on reading and writing referred to in the literature as school literacy. This Narrative Inquiry explores administrators’ perspectives of the relationship between school-literacy and home-literacy practices of a minoritized culture taking as its case the Low German-speaking Mennonites (LGM) who reside in particular rural areas of southwestern Ontario and often migrate between Ontario and northern Mexico.

A Principal Learning Team (PLT) was employed in this study which brought together ten participants from six schools within one school board to share their narratives of reading and writing in school, working with LGM students and their families, and school leadership. The four main findings for discussion included: (i) recognition of a mismatch between the multiliteracies demonstrated by students and the print-literacy model perpetuated by Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) ; (ii) the use of the Low German language as a vehicle to build trust with the LGM community; (iii) recognition by the principals that cultural proficiency within school communities is critical when working with students from a minoritized group; and (iv) the ways in which existing leadership frameworks and checklists constrain principals’ literacy leadership vis-à-vis minoritized cultures.

The study recommends that school leaders as literacy leaders adopt a widened view of literacies to encompass both the print literacy of large scale assessments such as EQAO and the daily demonstrations of multiliteracies by the students of minoritized cultures. Further, administrators should be granted greater autonomy by local boards to support school-based resource decisions. Finally, to better reflect the literacies of the students in their schools and to more appropriately assess students from minoritized cultures on large scale assessments, principals require greater latitude to employ accommodation and exemption mechanisms within the EQAO assessment.