Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Karen Watt

Second Advisor

Dr. Marie V. Simonsson

Third Advisor

Dr. Miguel de los Santos


Transforming low performing schools to ensure the academic success of Hispanic children situated in poverty remains an educational challenge. External factors impacting student learning are often targeted as the main reasons for poor academic achievement, thereby advancing the culturally deficit model. This study is about an elementary school that defied the deficit model as evidenced by its distinguished academic accolades. This instrumental qualitative case study examined a high performing elementary school on the Texas-Mexico Border in which high poverty Hispanic students made dramatic increases in academic achievement. Data were collected from interviews, observations, documents, and other media. Findings for the three research questions and their respective relationships to the theory of action provided in-depth insights of the multifaceted complexities and everyday challenges faced by educators striving to improve student performance. Based on the findings, conclusions are provided regarding the process of reculturation, cultural belief systems, leadership roles, teaching and learning systems, student support systems, and key school improvement factors. Recommendations for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers are also provided in this study.


Copyright 2012 Cynthia Iris Lopez. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American