Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Leadership and Policy Studies



Committee Chair

Reginald L Green

Committee Member

Beverly E Cross

Committee Member

Karen D Weddle-West

Committee Member

Linda H Wesson


For more than 50 years, education professionals have pondered over the phenomenon of failing schools. Despite years of educational reform efforts, America remains a Nation at Risk (1983). Towards the turn of the 21st century, America was well into it's third attempt to remedy one of its' major maladies, scholastic insufficiency. In the midst of schools failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), decreasing graduation rates, and increasing teacher turn-over rates, stands the school leader. No Child Left Behind (NCLB)mandates, Race to the Top dollars, and other numerous policies attempt to provide incentives for regions and leaders who change failing schools into achieving academic institutions. The paths to these incentives are separated by achievement gaps across the nation. This study attempts to conquer the quest that many school leaders have traveled by researching a change model that may embody the recipe for turning around failing schools. The purpose of this study was to research the experiences of four middle school principals, 2 female and 2 male, who utilized the processes and procedures embedded in the Four Dimensions of Principal Leadership (Green, 2010) to change their failing schools in to schools with a progressing status. The voices of these school leaders were captured by the researcher through three individual interviews, three focus groups, and artifact collections. The study uses case study analysis and phenomenological research along with other qualitative methodologies to answer the question, " What meaning to do school leaders in under achieving schools ascribe to the Four Dimensions of Leadership as they engage in the change process?" Findings of this study include eighteen major themes that surround the four dimensions. The first of the major themes supported the first dimension, understanding self and others. Theories connected with this dimension include, Hersey and Blanchard's (1960) Situational Leadership and Greenleaf's (1970) Servant Leadership. Second, it was found that the participants used the next dimension, understanding the complexities of organizational life, majorly to establish congruent visions of the change process by the internal and external populations. Theories connected with this dimension include Fullan's (1999) Change Theory and Senge's (1990) Systems Theory. The participants used the third dimension, building bridges through relationships, to stay connected with internal and external populations. Finally, the fourth dimension, utilizing leadership's best practices , was used to build a social network amongst the participants. In response to the turn-around challenge set forth by policy makers, the findings in this study reveal specific methods involving the Four Dimensions of Leadership that middle school level principals used to change the status of their schools. Ultimately, the findings within this study help to validate the Four Dimensions Leadership Model as a valued model for change in our 21st century schools.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.