Focus on Leadership

“I always wanted to change the world.”
Frank Olmos, Ed.D.
CSU/UCI Alumnus

Dr. Frank Olmos grew up in the city of Maywood, California, a small city approximately ten miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. From an early age, Dr. Olmos aspired to be a “superhero”, to make a difference for the better, and to save and change the world. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with two minors, one in education, the other in public policy, at the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his master’s degree in public administration at California State University, Los Angeles and subsequently received his doctorate in educational administration and leadership from California State University, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Irvine, joint doctorate program.

To this day, Dr. Olmos continues to pursue his childhood aspirations and is making a difference in the fields of education and psychometrics.

Dr. Olmos solidified his interest in education while pursuing his education minor at UCLA. He became exposed to the key challenges that the American education system is facing, such as the severe educational achievement disparities between students from low and high socioeconomic statuses and ethnicities, inequitable access to a quality education, and high teacher attrition rates. These pressing challenges have compelled Dr. Olmos to become an active participant and an instrument of change to overcome these challenges.

Once Dr. Olmos set his career path, he wasted no time in seeking out opportunities to make a positive difference in students’ lives and in his community. While attending UCLA he headed a team of tutors for the America Reads program.

All of us were committed to improving reading proficiency of kindergarten to third-grade students. Our efforts were concentrated in an after-school program called the African American Male Achievers Network (A-MAN) and at an elementary school situated in East Los Angeles.

As part of an effort to help his community, Dr. Olmos accepted a contract to work for the City of Maywood to manage their 1999 city elections. Realizing that there were greater community needs than election management and seeing an opportunity to make a longer-term contribution, Dr. Olmos ran for the elected position of City Clerk for the City of Maywood. His efforts of going door to door, registering voters, talking and listening to countless constituents, and attending multitudes of community meetings resulted in an increase in community and civic discourse and engagement.

Dr. Olmos has worked for the Montebello Unified School District and currently is employed by the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). As part of his responsibilities, he manages multiple assignments and projects affecting teacher education, including ensuring that all teachers in Los Angeles County are properly certified and assigned in their appropriate teaching field. Recently he played an instrumental role in implementing the No Child Left Behind Act teacher requirements and the Williams Settlement Legislation. His current position as a human resources analyst involves the research and practice of ensuring that highly qualified individuals are employed or promoted in the organization. Most of his time is spent in developing various psychometrically sound methods to assess the competencies of current and potential LACOE employees necessary for effective job performance.

Dr. Olmos enrolled in the CSU/UCI Joint Ed.D. in Educational Administration and Leadership, urban educational leadership emphasis, in order to gain an advanced level of knowledge, skills, and abilities to become a more effective researcher and leader.

I wanted to enroll in a program that catered to research practitioners actively solving pressing educational problems, and the joint doctorate offered the breadth and depth of experience that I was seeking. I was also attracted to the concept of having multiple universities working together to leverage their institutional knowledge and resources and to provide doctoral students with a first-class doctorate education.

Dr. Olmos’ desire to perform action research came to fruition with the completion of his dissertation, entitled “Square Peg in a Round Hole: Out-of-Field Teaching and its Impact on Teacher Attrition.” Dr. Olmos analyzed the direct and indirect effects among out-of-field teaching, self-efficacy, and teacher attrition. Using a nationally representative sample of K–12 public school teachers, he found that out-of-field teachers were more likely to leave the teaching profession than teachers in assignments related to their college major. Other findings were the direct and indirect effects between teachers’ self-efficacy levels, job satisfaction, commitment, and teacher attrition. Dr. Olmos proposed a number of actions that can be undertaken to lower teacher attrition rates and minimize the number of out-of-field teachers. He currently is preparing to disseminate his findings and recommendations to educators and school administrators, members of professional organizations, and the academic community.

Dr. Olmos recognizes that his doctoral degree journey was made possible with the help of others, and he wishes to share the following message of gratitude to those who helped him complete his journey:

My doctoral degree experience reinforces the fact that big accomplishments are made possible when performed collectively. My doctorate is a testament to the tremendous amount of support and care of my family, friends, and colleagues, and of the UCI and CSULA faculties. I am indebted to you for your help and will pay it forward by helping others who are in need of assistance and by continuing to work to improve our educational system.

Dr. Olmos’ believes that his doctoral experience will always be memorable.

The trials and tribulations of completing the program have given me the renewed confidence to achieve the improbable. My plans include continuing the advancement of research in the areas of teacher attrition and retention and psychometrics. I also plan to do consulting work, teach, and utilize sophisticated research techniques to generate, implement, and evaluate educational policies.

Dr. Olmos is married to Judith Villegas. His hobbies include building custom computers, running, and playing the guitar.