Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Knoeppel, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. William Bridges

Committee Member

Dr. Michael Campbell

Committee Member

Dr. Mason Gary

Abstract

Studies have shown a direct correlation between positive school culture and increases in student achievement (Bulach et al, 1995; Goddard et al, 2000; Kaplan & Owings, 2013; McCarley et al, 2014; Thapa et al, 2013; Whitaker, 2001). The literature also suggests that the culture within a school can be positively impacted through effective leadership (Hallinger, et al, 2014), but the literature available for rural schools in regards to student achievement and culture is limited (Arnold, et al, 2005 and Lee, 2001). This purpose of this mixed-method case study is to identify what practices a principal employed to create a change in teacher's perceptions that parallels an increase in student achievement. The study was framed within the context of four domains gleaned from the distillation of the work of Leithwood, Schultz, Lewis, Murray, Riehl, Murray, Jantzi, Whitaker and others that a transformation leader must operate within to impact culture. Findings indicate that that no single activity, program or strategy is effective in changing school culture. The data suggests that to impact culture the leader must take ownership of critical decisions and truly believe that the students in a failing school can be successful and communicate that belief to the community, the teachers and most importantly to the students. The data also suggests that an administrator cannot operate within a single Domain but that the Domains are intertwined and networked to the point that attention has to be paid to contexts within each of the Domains. The principal in this case study communicated high standards for both students and teachers. Unwavering, reasonable expectations are followed with providing the proper environment through limiting all distractions so the faculty and staff can focus on instruction. Once all of the excuses are taken away teachers are measurably gauged against the high expectations and those teachers that cannot perform are removed from the environment. This then allows administrator to conduct an intensive recruitment process to find a replacement that can work to the level of expectation the entire faculty, students and parents demand.

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