Dual Language Immersion programs (DLI) were designed as enrichment programs, mostly implemented at the elementary level, that have been proven effective in improving achievement for all participant students. Research and practice review show that effective school leadership is quintessential in improving student. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the perceptions of best leadership practices of Secondary Dual Language Immersion (SDLI) school leaders. Data was elicited using semi-structured face-to-face interviews from nine SDLI school leaders working in four different public school districts in Southern California. These leaders were selected by an expert sampling method, utilizing a double layer of inclusion criteria that ensured both leadership experience and school overall performance. The study employed the transformational leadership theory as a theoretical framework which helped elicit effective leadership practices within educational settings. The study examined SDLI leadership practices through the lens of program coherence, instructional quality, and equity at the secondary level. The findings indicated the emergence of five themes in leading SDLI programs, assembled in five specific roles with 36 leadership practices attached. Additionally, the study found a transversal relationship among all SDLI leadership practices that contributed to a shared program's vision. As a result, dual immersion requires extra layers of leadership to manage secondary programs due to increased levels of diversity and linguistic demands. Because of its challenges and specificities, Dual Language Immersion (DLI) programs may require unique leadership roles. The study resulted in seven conclusions regarding SDLI leadership practices. These include: developing trust and unity among stakeholders to develop a shared vision, implementing the five transformational leadership roles, addressing the complexity of SDLI programs, ensuring academic and linguistic equity, enhancing program coherence, progress monitoring, and engaging stakeholder commitment. All in all, quality SDLI could potentially become exemplary programs nationwide that model equitable policies and practice due to high expectations, commitment, and enhanced achievement for all students in K-12 settings.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership, administration, and policy

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

McCabe, Molly