Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

MacFeely, Richard W.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership in Educational and Sport Organizations


Blue Ribbon Schools Program (U.S.); Elementary school principals--Illinois--Attitudes; Educational change--Illinois


This study profiled the principal's role for initiating, facilitating, and sustaining change in Blue Ribbon elementary schools in Illinois. The researcher interviewed nine principals and coded the transcribed data using 29 indicators of leadership developed from the Total Leaders Model by Schwahn and Spady. The qualitative analysis was enriched and supported through the use of SPSS reports and graphs. Educational reform initiatives often produce short-term change in public schools. As a result, the change is often not sustained long enough to take root in the organization. Education is in need of lasting change efforts that produce systemic change in institutions of learning. One of the research questions of this study asked, “What are best practices that school principals employ as leaders in establishing lasting change efforts?” The data analysis revealed specific answers to this question. The data described what practices Blue Ribbon principals have used to successfully improve the school climate in the change process. Such practices need to be initiated and facilitated using a collaborative effort that involves all stakeholders and develops true ownership in the process. In addition, the principal needs to communicate effectively by providing informational data for all staff as they participate in decision making. When leaders are value driven and model reflective practice, perform honestly and professionally, and manage their own personal growth, they are more likely to be able to make a system-wide impact upon the school culture. The results of this research showed the importance of stable leadership and strong cultural leadership skills for successful principals.


Includes bibliographical references (pages )


viii, 139 pages




Northern Illinois University

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