Assessing schoolwide cultural competence: Implications for school leadership preparation

Rebecca M. Bustamante Dr., Judith A. Nelson, Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The initial purpose of this mixed methods study was to assess the instrument fidelity and construct-related validity of a 33-item instrument called the Schoolwide Cultural Competence Observation Checklist (SCCOC) by eliciting school leaders' views. The SCCOC was designed as one tool for use in conducting school culture audits, which determine how well a school responds to the needs of diverse groups. The results revealed unexpected qualitative findings from school leaders' narrative responses to open-ended items. The implications of these findings for school leaders and school leader preparation are discussed. Research Design: On a Web-based questionnaire, practicing school leaders in two large western states responded to open- and closed-ended items on the relevance of SCCOC items to cultural competence in actual school settings. Participants' narrative responses were analyzed using an iterative process of coding and constant comparison to identify emerging themes. Themes were validated using intercoder reliability. Findings: Research team members reached consensus on four primary themes that emerged from analysis of narrative data: policy as a paradox, programs as instrumental to culturally competent practice, school culture and climate as integral to schoolwide cultural competence, and numerous barriers to cultural competence. Under the theme of barriers, five subthemes were revealed. Conclusions: The findings inform future research and the need to focus school leader preparation on examining personal biases, privilege, and beliefs about others who are different, as well as guiding leaders to develop culturally responsive skills and knowledge and the ability to assess schoolwide cultural competence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-827
Number of pages35
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural competence and proficiency
  • Culture audits
  • Equity
  • School culture assessments
  • School leader preparation
  • School leadership
  • Social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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