Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Dorsch, Nina G.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Teaching and Learning


Educational change--Illinois


The purpose of schooling in the United States has evolved throughout history, providing public schools with the daunting task of responding to constantly changing societal expectations, federal and state government mandates, and pressures from the business world while attempting to fulfill their mission: meeting student needs. Taking its cue from change models implemented in the business world, public education has moved toward site-based management systems in order to move forward and effect improvement in its schools. Comprehensive school reform efforts, spawned from federal legislation mandating school improvements, litter the public education landscape and offer myriad approaches to change. In Illinois, these efforts have turned toward site-based management styles in order to meet federal comprehensive school reform requirements and state mandates for school improvement timelines and documentation. Three high-poverty, high-achievement schools and their school improvement (comprehensive school reform) practitioners participated in an interview process for the purpose of defining the components of a successful comprehensive school reform effort. High-poverty, high-achievement schools were chosen in order to eliminate the component of abundant resources contributing to the success of the schools. These practitioners implement school improvement components without the advantage of community and financial resources. This study focused on the nonmaterial components of successful school reform. The conceptual framework for the study and resulting change model developed through the grounded theory process was chaos theory. Its flexible, all-inclusive view of human interaction and creation of one’s own reality was illustrated by the school improvement practitioners’ identification of the components of successful school improvement. The interview data viewed through the lens of chaos theory revealed six recursive components of improvement in a learning organization: change, participation, communication, relationships, the system as a whole, and knowledge. The result of the study suggests an agile change model based on chaos theory that can support schools in their efforts to effect comprehensive school reform while managing the changes brought about by internal and external change forces.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [114]-118).


vi, 127 pages




Northern Illinois University

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