Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership

Major Professor

Judith A. Ponticell, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

John Mann, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Vonzell Agosto, Ph.D.


culture of care, high expectations for student learning, teacher implicit biases


This graduate project was part of a group project completed by five school and district administrators in Hillsborough County, Florida. The project began because of our passion for teachers who are able to establish a culture of care in their classrooms that support students academically but transform their learning through experiences that enable them to be more highly engaged and productive students, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, perceived academic abilities, and backgrounds.

My project component looked at research on teacher expectations and their effects on student success. Why does the color of a child's skin tone trigger lower expectations by some teachers? Why does this occur? How can school leaders and teachers confront preconceived notions that create barriers for high expectations for marginalized students?

Selected literature was reviewed that concentrated on perspectives on teacher attitudes, systemic biases, and teacher expectations. I applied what I learned to exploring gaps in district emphasis on diversity and equity and potential approaches to engaging teachers and school leaders in collaborative and challenging conversation.

In an examination of four major district documents, the terms ‘diversity of students’, ‘cultural diversity’, ‘high expectations for all students’, ‘multicultural awareness and equity’ each appeared only once. Professional development for teachers and school leaders was needed to focus on inquiry, self-reflection, curriculum development, and instructional approaches to surface and address implicit biases that contribute to low expectations for marginalized students.