This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Preparing Culturally Competent Educational Leaders




Barakat, Maysaa

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The demographic profile of the US has been rapidly changing and as a result, the US is becoming more culturally diverse. This change in demographics is reflected in schools, and by 2020 minority students will constitute the majority of the school student population nationwide. These changing demographics make cultural competence a necessity for today’s public school educators. Cultural competence should be envisioned as a subset of the much larger picture of social justice. Research suggests that culturally competent leaders positively affect school environments and foster equitable learning. Educational leaders are expected to champion inclusive practices; however, research indicates that they find themselves unprepared and unaware of cultural influences in the public education arena. There is a lack of theory which explains the process of preparing culturally competent educational leaders in the educational leadership literature. Much of what is known about developing cultural competence is borrowed from other disciplines. Educational leadership preparation programs are responsible for preparing culturally competent leaders; however, few programs assess their students’ cultural competence. The purpose of this quantitative cross-sectional study was to examine whether graduates of educational leadership preparation programs had significantly different cultural competence than those beginning their respective program. The study also investigated whether certain individual attributes and experiences correlated with cultural competence. The findings of this study suggest matriculating through a principal preparation program is positively related to students’ cultural competence, their cultural beliefs and motivation, and cultural knowledge. However, there appeared to be no significant relationship between completing this program and students’ cultural skills. The study’s findings also indicate that cultural competence of educational leaders is affected by personal attributes such as gender and perception of belonging to marginalized groups and it is also positively affected by travel abroad experiences.