Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Cathy Kaufman, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

George Bieger, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Monte Tidwell, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Joseph S. Werlinich, M.Ed.


The purpose of this study was to examine the process of two public school reform teams to identify if and how changes were made to the organizational, cultural, and social systems considered critical to systemic transformation. School reform is an endeavor in nearly every school district and leadership approaches to improve the educational system have varied over the past three decades from the study of a single individual to multiple contributors. This study provides a qualitative case study of two vertical teams, including superintendents, principals, and teachers in school reform efforts. The perceptions of superintendents, principals, and teachers as participants of the school reform team were gathered with individual interviews and supported with observations of team meetings and document analysis. Transformational change requires a visionary superintendent who understands systems thinking with school reform not being an isolated process, but rather a process that affects groups within and outside of the organization and other components of the educational system. The study supports school reform as a district-wide process with the alignment of school level initiatives. The development of a learning organization requires the commitment of the superintendent to engaging with teachers on a regular basis with communication regarding the vision. This ongoing dialogue facilitates a shared vision among all team members that, with the analysis of the current reality in relation to the vision, become motivational factors for change. Teachers attribute the sustainability of efforts to the recognition of their leadership skills by administrators, and to the ownership and empowerment generated in the process. Recommendations for future research and practice include examining the perspectives of members not a part of the team since inception to gain insight into the induction process of becoming a team member and examining the perspectives of teachers who are not members of the school reform team relevant to the impact of change.