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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Dennis Brennan

First Committee Member

Rachelle Hackett

Second Committee Member

Beatrice Lingenfelter

Third Committee Member

John Borba


National attention remains fixed on educational reform. Since the late 1980s, an increasing number of state and local education agencies have adopted high-stakes testing initiatives and accountability programs focused on increasing student achievement. States, like the State of California, are requiring local districts to implement a variety of reform measures related to improved student achievement. California's 1999 Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA), which established the Immediate Intervention of Underperforming Schools Program (II/USP) as a way to fix the lowest performing schools, was the state's remedy to address a history of declining student achievement on national and state performance assessments. California's legislators and policymakers continue to support II/USP as a way to reform its lowest performing schools despite sufficient research that clearly delineates the positive or negative effects of II/USP on participating schools. This exploratory study was composed of a primary study and an auxiliary study. The purpose of the primary study was to survey a group of principals from the most successful II/USP elementary schools and describe the reform measures they perceived to improve academic performance. The purpose of the auxiliary study was to survey a group of principals from the least successful II/USP elementary schools in order to compare and contrast the perceptions between the two groups of principals. Data gathered from the primary study and the auxiliary study was used to advance a theory highlighted by the Woods Targeted Reform Achievement Model (Woods T-RAM). The Woods T-RAM was an organizational tool used by the researcher to promote a theory that low performing schools must implement, at the very least, three fundamental strategies when attempting reform. The results of the study indicated that, at the very least, there is a specific set of strategies elementary principals perceived to have helped improve academic achievement at their schools. In particular, principals from the successful II/USP schools perceived that schools must have local board members, district administrators and site leaders who must set a positive tone for change, promote a specific vision for the change, and provide resources and training that promote student learning. Furthermore, these principals perceived that teachers must be provided with well-articulated curricula that optimizes instructional time and provides a standardized set of achievement goals that were sequentially developed from one grade level to the next. And finally, these principals perceived that student performance does improve when teachers and administrators design a system for analyzing individual student performance data and develop customized instructional programs that meet specific performance goals.



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