Meaning, Quality, and Integrity of a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Cal Poly Pomona

The Department of Education within the College of Education and Integrative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona is a professional learning community focused on serving the present and future needs of diverse students in our region. We prepare students to become highly qualified educators and leaders in our society. We are committed to the principles of diversity, ethics, and life-long learning. Central to our “polytechnic mission” are innovative and integrative thinking, reflective practice, collaboration, and learning by doing. We seek social justice through actions that promote equity, access, advocacy, and inclusion in the educational process


The Cal Poly Pomona Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership is one of 15 EdD programs currently being offered in the California State University system. The CSU EdD degree programs were established in 2006 by CSU Chancellor’s Executive Order 991 to improve leadership in public education systems from Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and community colleges. The CSU EdD programs provide the highest level of professional training for experienced educators who are responsible for effectiveness of public schools, districts, and community colleges across the state.
The professional mission and structure of the three-year professional programs are well defined in state policy with local options in coursework and research seminars for cohorts of experienced educators. The three-year CPP EdD Program began with the first cohort of 15 doctoral students in fall, 2012, graduating in summer of 2015. The second cohort of 16 students will complete dissertations and course requirements in summer of 2016. (The Program enrolls new cohorts once per year and will change to summer start and spring completion in 2017 during semester conversion.)
The CPP EdD Program uniquely develops leadership expertise for educators in the highly diverse region served by Cal Poly, emphasizing the role and contributions of a Hispanic-serving institution. Reflecting the CSU system vision and values, the vision of the CPP EdD Program is to enhance leaders’ expertise to increase educational quality and effectiveness. The CPP EdD builds on CPP’s contextual uniqueness and emphasizes the social responsibilities of leading diverse educational organizations that are committed to equity and justice for all students.
Expectations of Incoming Students to the EdD
EdD students are required to have a Masters degree, experience demonstrating effective leadership, a current position as an educational leader, and a deep commitment to the CPP vision and values of educational quality, equity, and justice. Students are expected to continue to be engaged throughout the program in work that contributes to organizational success and effectiveness so they can apply and evaluate new knowledge and skills.
EdD Graduates’ Culminating Skills
Graduates demonstrate their mastery of the program objectives throughout the three years, in hands-on applications and conducting research used to guide practice in local districts and schools. Courses set out performance objectives in critical content areas, engaging students in data collection and interpretation, and culminating in products. Each student completes a dissertation that addresses a real, ongoing, major problem of educational practice as the doctoral culminating experience. On program completion, graduates assume new leadership responsibilities, and many assume new professional roles reflecting the training and specific expertise they gained from courses and their dissertation research. Additionally, our graduates report the successes of their schools and districts as they are increasingly recognized for excellence of outcomes and effectiveness, implementing programs that increase learning, equity, and justice for all students.
See CPP Doctoral Program website highlighting program information and students’ accomplishments:
The CPP Department of Education-- Commitments about Knowledge and Skills of All Graduates
In addition to specific characteristics of the EdD program, this program is part of the Department of Education which has established four learning outcomes across all programs in the Department, from the basic pre-service introductory level to ever-increasing levels of development in the MA degree program (including embedded advanced credentials/added authorizations), to advanced development in the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership degree program.  The word education derives from a Latin word meaning “to lead”; thus we view leadership as inherent in the mission of educator preparation.  Whether the leadership is at the entry level of the classroom, at the school level as an instructional leader, at the school or district level as an administrator, at the local community level, or in broader regional, state, or national settings, we prepare all educators in our programs for Leadership grounded in Expertise with Application to real-world settings, and a commitment to honor Diversity, equity, and global consciousness in order to promote social justice and the development of human potential in a pluralistic society.   


Candidates demonstrate leadership by communicating, collaborating, and engaging in concrete actions that model and effectively influence and inspire others to promote educational policies, pedagogies, and practices that promote the maximum academic and social development of all learners.


Candidates demonstrate Expertise by engaging in the reflective study, application, synthesis, and evaluation of educational theories, pedagogical practices, and technologies to develop an informed, problem-solving perspective to promote educational excellence for all learners.

Candidates demonstrate Application of knowledge by integrating theory, research, data, appropriate technologies, and reflective practice to render informed professional judgments and decisions that enhance the quality of teaching and learning in diverse educational settings.
Diversity, equity, & global consciousness
Candidates demonstrate Diversity, equity, and global consciousness by continuing to learn about the world in the context of rapidly emerging social and technological change in order to make informed decisions to cultivate, develop, and celebrate human potential in all its diverse forms.
The aforementioned competencies will allow graduates to be LEADers in the field as they continue to develop broader and deeper levels of understanding and effectiveness in addressing the immense challenges and opportunities inherent in educating students for full membership in a free society in a largely unfree world.


Cal Poly Pomona EdD students bring experience and opportunities in their current roles that both enrich coursework and projects and engage students in applying their learning, particularly in meeting needs that emerge from the diversity of the region’s schools and districts. Students work full-time as administrators or teachers with responsibilities that vary widely: principals, teacher leaders, and district or program leaders of special education, student assessment, personnel, finance, and other key roles in education systems. Their job responsibilities provide rich learning contexts for individual and group projects to improve education; for example, implementing state standards, assessments, finance reforms, and evaluating and improving teaching.
All coursework and dissertations address real, important challenges for educators and require solution sets that not only contribute to the specific issues and context (e.g. implementing standards in districts with many poor families of English language learners; resource shortages and new allocation strategies) but also directly improve general equity and justice for all students. For example, dissertations have used data to describe and recommend strategies to increase achievement of English language learners and special education students, to promote minority student access to and success in postsecondary education, to strengthen minority parent inclusion in educational decisions, to strengthen leadership in implementing standards in content areas, and to address other critical topics to increase quality, equity, and justice in education.
Courses are designed to achieve the major goals of educational organizations, specifically targeting the challenges facing current leaders such as achieving higher standards and expectations for all students, implementing evidence-based practices and evaluating their effectiveness, and strengthening effective teaching practices. Meeting these goals requires greater knowledge about educational reforms, opportunities to practice new skills and strategies, and guidance to implement and evaluate outcomes of new leadership practices and processes, such as those required for implementing K-12 content standards and accountability measures.

The Education Department Commitments to Teaching and Learning at CPP

As part of the Department of Education, the EdD program uses Cal Poly Pomona’s “learn by doing” approach that is evident in the ways in which we increase professional capacity of our students to provide leadership in educational organizations in the region. All courses are student-centered professional learning communities where faculty and students share, discuss, analyze and evaluate educational theories, research, curriculum, instruction, assessment, resources, and technologies to inform and enhance professional practice. Faculty and students in the program co-construct learning experiences; co-present best practices and research findings at local, regional, state, and international forums and conferences; and publish or co-publish in scholarly journals.
We emphasize data-informed decision making throughout all aspects of the program as an essential feature of effective educational leadership at all levels.  Students engage in statistical data analysis of student achievement at the classroom, school, district, state, national, and international levels. They also engage in the analysis of evidence-based qualitative data to assess student performance in order to inform decisions about the appropriate design of instructional and behavioral intervention strategies to enhance student progress.  They learn how to analyze and interpret data and to construct relevant strategies for cultivating communities of teaching and learning that enrich educational experiences for all students. Data analyses are used to transform policies and practices to exemplify educational excellence.


Achievement and Assessments of Student Learning Outcomes

Faculty members work together to determine and organize the Student Learning Outcomes and identify the most effective learning that professionals need to succeed in diverse educational settings. Faculty collaborate on selecting the critical knowledge base and evaluating achievement of the student learning outcomes. Dissertation committees composed of a team of educators provide intensive, long-term mentorship for students in translating theory to practice and developing a data strategy to guide current and future practice.
Doctoral students’ projects have provided critical assessments of programs and student achievement and have been pivotal when used by local districts for illuminating underlying problems of data and structures and alleviating inequities. Major components of the EdD program require students to conduct equity audits in specific settings as part of assessing needs and setting goals, analyzing historic trends that affect current reforms and traditional practices, and informing educators through reports, articles, and policy briefs. For example, students identify key policies that affect problem areas and investigate the historical and political origins that shape current implementation. Equity audits develop deeper definitions of data that are relevant and informative for alleviating vast gaps in achievement between student groups. Increasing equity and excellence is a great concern and needs to be informed by data about students, structures, leadership capacities, and systemic relationships at all levels.
Students develop policy briefs that inform both local implementers and policy makers about the effects and obstacles of policy approaches. Students have investigated reforms and policies about standards, assessments, evaluation, organizational structures, resource allocations, and other key reforms that are being used by local educational organizations and local policy makers. They develop budget and allocation plans for districts; personnel selection, evaluation and staffing plans, technology implementation and acquisition plans, and others that are of direct benefit to their contexts and evaluated according to professional standards and reviews by experts.
The CPP EdD Program was recently designed and is being evaluated according to the current expectations of educational professionals to meet the advanced levels of California’s Leadership Standards and Descriptions of Practice. Continuous feedback from students in operationalizing their Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) in the field helps the faculty refine the program, evaluate outcomes, and describe effectiveness.