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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

Fay Haisley

Second Committee Member

David Baral

Third Committee Member

Cirenio Rodriguez

Fourth Committee Member

Mari Irvin


The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine what reciprocal relationships existed among three core themes (the school culture, the principal's leadership, and the school innovations) and how they contributed to the systemic nature of seven Northern California model continuation high schools. It examined the complex influential forces of key interventions, paradoxes, and relationships that were conducive to the creation of effective learning systems for at-risk students. The study's conceptual framework, created by the researcher, investigated a triad of reciprocal relationships. Various scholarly works influenced the development of the researcher's focus. Among them were Thomas Sergiovanni's (1992) "head, heart, and hand" premise for moral leadership, Peter Senge's (1990) principles for creating learning organizations, and Howard Gardner's (1993) multidisciplinary investigation on creativity. Also influential in the development of the researcher's Triad of Reciprocal Relationships Model was the literature on change leadership and the "new science" principles used to understand and describe natural phenomenon. The naturalistic inquiry method was selected because it is considered more amenable to the multitude of diverse realities found within complex systems. Six major research questions were examined concerning the three reciprocal relationships. The data gathering tools utilized were: (a) a structured interview with the principal, (b) a staff questionnaire, (c) an observation of the school environment, and (d) various available school documents. The seven model continuation high schools developed systems that emphasized autonomy and empowerment of staff and students, focused on building relationships to enhance student participation in their education and welfare, provided students with opportunities for academic and social growth within a safe, structured, and nurturing environment, and had fluid and collaborative communication systems. Process took precedence over content in their learning interactions. The schools' successes and imperfections, contributed new perspectives on how educational systems, at any scale, may create necessary and effective beliefs, structures, and processes for student success.




9780591261981 , 0591261987

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