Date of Award

Spring 5-24-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Philip Pendley

Second Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Greenberg

Third Advisor

Dr. Scott Scambray


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to identify and describe the visions, frameworks, strategies, initiatives and change models used by eight superintendents of exemplar 21st century school districts as designated by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, in order to successfully implement a district-wide 21st century learning model. Semi-structured interviews were used to provide rich narratives of the superintendents’ experiences with the transformational change processes in their districts as they implemented 21st century models of education. The interviews were coded and analyzed for common themes and patterns. The findings revealed that although the superintendents were system thinkers about change, they used organic rather than prescribed models of change. The initiatives most commonly implemented were: global and cultural literacy, college and career readiness, standards-based instruction and assessment, personalized learning, and technology. Successful strategies were: engaging the community, hiring for fit, allocating resources to the initiatives, building capacity through collaborative professional development, listening purposefully, recognizing and celebrating successes, building a culture of risk-taking and trust, maintaining a loose-tight relationship with site principals, and fostering organizational persistence and resilience.