Term of Award

Fall 2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Charles Reavis

Committee Member 1

Linda Arthur

Committee Member 2

Russell Mays

Abstract

The demands of an ever-changing technological and diverse global society contribute to the need for systemic change in today's secondary schools. Faced with these realities, American high schools must set course on a new mission for education. Not only must high schools require differentiated instructions to accommodate students' needs, high school personnel must also be held accountable for student learning by producing a high quality education. Because of the variety of these diverse issues, high school principals are faced with overcoming the challenges and obstacles that confront high school reforms. The research regarding smaller learning communities is well-documented and encouraging. While the practice can become the focus for producing higher achievement, educators must create new paradigms of operations. In many cases, traditional standards and procedures must be abandoned in order to increase school-wide success. Little is known of South Carolina's high school administrators as they attempt to find solutions to meet the needs of rapidly growing and diverse student populations. Little is also known of the experiences of South Carolina high school principals as they implement smaller learning communities, or the forces confronting those transitions. Therefore, the researcher examined the supporting and impeding forces experienced by South Carolina high school principals implementing smaller learning communities. In addition, the researcher analyzed the strategies used by administrators to overcome the forces, using Bolman and Deal's (2008) four frames: human resources, political, structural, and symbolic. The researcher conducted in-depth interviews with administrators in seven South Carolina high schools located in five school districts. The researcher analyzed the forces as well as strategies used by administrators to overcome the forces at work. The researcher categorized the strategies used by administrators to deal with the forces into four frames: human resources, political, structural, and symbolic. In analyzing the cognitive frameworks commonly used by administrators in implementing smaller learning communities, the researcher found that the majority of cognitive frames fell within the human resource framework. The second largest group of responses fell within the structural framework followed by the symbolic framework and then the political framework.

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