First Advisor

Micki Caskey

Term of Graduation

Spring 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction





Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 176 pages)


School districts have called upon principals to build capacity for inclusive learning environments and prioritize the needs of an increasingly diverse group of students. A principal's work to effectively include students so they are part of the school community and have opportunities to achieve academically has been challenging. As the instructional leader of the school, principals have played an essential role by collaborating with teachers and specialists, removing obstacles to learning, and ensuring that teachers meet the needs of all learners in their classrooms. They have also been held accountable for knowing the laws, policies, and best practices to support students with disabilities. The purpose of my research was to explore how elementary principals make sense of their experiences when responding to the needs of students with disabilities and the increased challenge of student achievement. In this investigation, I examined the role of three elementary school principals in the United States as instructional leaders of students with disabilities. I used qualitative methods to conduct a multiple case study of three principals who were known to be leading school change efforts to develop inclusive learning environments in their schools. Based on the analysis of interview data, I identified three key themes: the principals' belief that all students can learn, the essential nature of collaboration and teamwork, and the principals' actions and practices that build inclusive environments for students with disabilities to ensure their success. After discussing implications of the study, I offered a set of recommendations for principals, school districts, university administrator licensing programs, and other stakeholders.


© 2023 Vivian M. Garrison

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