Date of Award

Spring 4-20-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Tim McCarthy

Second Advisor

Dr. Keith Larick

Third Advisor

Dr. Donna Campbell


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative study was to discover which leadership responsibilities, within the domains of trust, communication, learning, and shared leadership, did elementary and middle school principals of successful turnaround schools perceive as most necessary to lead a turnaround intervention model school.

Themes were identified related to leadership responsibilities, practices and processes of turnaround principals within the domains of trust, communication, learning, and shared leadership identified by Fritjof Capra (2002) and the twenty-one leadership Responsibilities identified by Robert Marzano (2005). This study contributed to the literature to understand what it took to improve, or “turnaround” a school that was identified as failing by the state of California. With this understanding, how to select principals to lead schools with current and increasing achievement gaps will become more evident.

Methodology: The participants in the present study were principals of successful elementary and middle school principals. The study was designed using a qualitative interview protocol. Principals participated in phone and in-person interviews.

Findings: Examination of the qualitative data indicated that principals perceived that within the domain of trust, fostering relationships was most necessary. Under the domain of communication, having laser-like focus was most necessary. Within the domain of learning, being a change agent was most necessary. Lastly, within the domain of shared leadership, building culture was most necessary when leading a successful turnaround school.

Conclusions: The study data support the conclusion that all of the responsibilities identified by Marzano (2005) were needed to lead a successful turnaround school. However, principals perceived that some responsibilities were more necessary than others

Recommendations: Further research is advised. Recommendations include the study of the following: What do teachers perceive as the most important leadership responsibilities to lead a turnaround model school? What do school districts look for in principals when staffing turnaround model schools? Further research could be conducted on non-turnaround model schools to determine what is necessary for effective principal leadership before a school begins to decline.