Term of Award

Fall 2005

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (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

Michael D. Richardson

Committee Member 1

Catherine C. Wooddy

Committee Member 2

James F. Burnham

Committee Member 3

Fred M. Page

Committee Member 3 Email


Committee Member 4

Randal D. Carlson

Committee Member 4 Email



The purpose of this study was to examine and analyze the shared experiences of teachers and principals within selected schools in their quest of achieving the United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award in Georgia. In one sense, these schools are already successful. They were required to document five consecutive years of high and improving test scores as a prerequisite for consideration. Therefore, an attempt to better understand a process that could lead to continuous improvement and change in schools, as deemed necessary, was the fulcrum upon which this study rests. The researcher applied a theoretical framework to help explicate narratives drawn from participants. Principals were interviewed and collaborative school teams participated in focus groups. Research protocol questions guided the interviews to elicit responses relating to the seven research sub-questions to derive rich narratives. The qualitative data from the taped interviews were analyzed using the QSR NUD.IST 5 software program, which aided the researcher in categorizing the interviewees' responses to the interview questions and, more importantly, identifying recurring themes, related ideas and responses pertinent to the purpose of the study. Narratives resulting from these procedures became the primary sources of data within this design. Several conclusions emerged from this study. In all cases, the Blue Ribbon School process reduced isolation and strengthened teamwork, collegiality and school pride within the group of interviewees. These attributes were closely akin to discussions of school climate and were reinforced through the retelling of stories. The process encouraged an integrated, holistic view of the school, particularly for team members who actively participated in preparing the application. Principals and school teams believed that by working together in a goal-oriented process such as the one found in the Blue Ribbon School program, they were able to glean a broader, more meaningful view of their school and agreed that a student focus was the driving force for the school's aims and actions.

Research Data and Supplementary Material