Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Dorsch, Nina G.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Teaching and Learning


Literacy programs--Illinois--Chicago--Case studies; Literacy programs--Illinois--Chicago--Public opinion


As states attempt to comply with the regulations of No Child Left Behind, school districts and schools have come under increasing pressure to demonstrate that each child is making adequate yearly progress. Facing serious consequences for failing schools, districts struggle with ameliorating the low-performing status of such schools. This dissertation examines the perceptions and response of key players as they implemented a mandated literacy-based school improvement initiative. The purpose of this study was to (a) describe the perceptions of each school with regard to the prescribed intervention; (b) identify the structures, activities, and processes in which schools engaged in order to implement the prescribed intervention; and (c) identify barriers to implementation and describe the manner in which each school attempted to overcome these barriers. Multiple case-study methodology with mixed methods was used to analyze the perceptions, responses, and barriers to implementation of the Four Blocks balanced literacy framework in three suburban schools in the same district in the Chicago metropolitan area. Schools chosen for this study were not on any state warning list but were identified as in need of remediation by their own district. The study took place as each school was in its second year of implementation. A survey was administered and completed by classroom teachers at each school. Semistructured interviews were conducted with building- and district-level administrators. First- through sixth-grade teachers participated in focus groups at each site. Classroom observations were conducted at each school. The qualitative data was analyzed by thematic analysis procedures and compared to quantitative date from the survey, classroom observation checklist, and a review of pertinent documents. Data were analyzed both within and across schools. Findings suggest that given the right conditions, mandates can work. Although the district, the school, the principal, and the teachers each play a role in the successful implementation of school improvement initiatives, consideration of and fostering human connections at each of these levels appear to have encouraged implementation of a prescribed initiative to a greater degree. Districts and schools looking to effect change must make opportunities that allow those who are involved with change to build working relationships.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [196]-203).


xv, 233 pages




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