Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Laura Hallberg

First Committee Member

Delores McNair

Second Committee Member

Xuanning Fu


K–12 leaders’ compliance mandates, challenges of adopting a continuous improvement approach to student success, and competing priorities often leave leaders feeling vulnerable and unprepared for the task. This basic qualitative study applied the continuous improvement framework (CIF) to research how improvement science penetrated an educational system. This basic qualitative study explored and described leaders’ commitment to employing the principles of improvement science at one California K–12 school district. An in-depth analysis of the interviewees’ transcriptions, persona, and experiences unveiled the following themes for continuous improvement: (a) transformational governance, (b) capacity building, (c) accountability, (d) limitations of transactional governance, and (e) outlier findings. Participants’ insights and experiences on the application of continuous improvement underscored the power of culture and affording leaders professional development to build their confidence and data literacy. The findings from this study could benefit K–12 leaders who wish to employ the principles of improvement as a system and everyday work.