Term of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Teri Melton

Committee Member 1

Antonio Gutierrez

Committee Member 2

Juliann McBrayer



Children in poverty tend to have malnutrition and iron deficiency, and often receive their only meals for the day from a school nutrition program. Students of poverty are underperforming their academic peers. The average reading score of a student can be predicted by the accumulated levels of childhood poverty. Research has found that iron can have a positive impact on brain health. Nutrition deficiencies during the adolescent years may increase the risk of decreased cognitive function. School breakfast and lunch programs follow USDA guideline that limit portions, fats, salts, and sugars, but do not fortify vitamin and minerals necessary to impact brain health. One middle school in Southeast Georgia implemented Kotter’s Eight Stage Process to Creating a Major Change to improve the school’s nutrition program and address the needs of the low socioeconomic student population. This study analyzed the effects of an iron-rich school nutrition program on student Lexile growth. Lexile data were collect from the 2016 and 2017 Georgia End of Grade English language arts Assessment. The findings resulted in a significant increase (M = 104.31) in Lexile growth for all students (n = 189) controlling for low socioeconomic status. This research brings to focus the unexplored wide spread approach to using school nutrition programs to address the middle school student nutritional requirements for brain health.

Research Data and Supplementary Material