Scapegoated, castaway, and forgotten: the dispensable principals of school turnaround

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Robin Neal Buckrham (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Ulrich Reitzug

Abstract: The blaring din of rhetoric surrounding school reform has become so loud that we rarely hear the sound of the school principal actually engrossed in the daily work of improving schools across the country. The purpose of this dissertation is to give voice to those principals who have been replaced as a result of this battle over how schools can be improved. Rather than focus on the muddled voices of politicians debating this topic, I have chosen to do as Casey (1993) does and present the untold stories of those on the front lines of this war on school reform in hopes of ". . . recreating the possibility of public debate which has actually been suppressed by national reports" (p. 3). As a result of the No Child Left Behind legislation, the school turnaround reform model, as outlined in the School Improvement Grant (SIG) guidelines, has become the model for improving student achievement across the country (GAO, 2011, p. 3). I focus the spotlight on principals who have been replaced due to federal, state, or local district efforts to improve failing schools. In Chapter I, I briefly provide the backdrop for the school improvement movement and explain my reasons for conducting this research along with the significance of this study to the body of work on educational leadership in low performing schools. This chapter includes my research questions along with a description of the theoretical framework used for this study. Included in this chapter is the definition of terms that may be unfamiliar to readers. Chapter II is a review of the literature on school turnaround that provides insight into SIG sanctions that led to the termination of many principals. These sanctions have served as a model for state and district turnaround efforts as well. Included in this same chapter is research on the effectiveness of the turnaround model and the practice of replacing principals for purportedly better ones. Chapter III focuses on the methodology used to conduct the study while Chapter IV includes the stories of the castaway principals and my analysis of the data collected. Chapter V represents my conclusions after analyzing the interview data along with suggestions for further study. I further explore the impact these practices have on the school leadership position, and implications for future policy at the district, state, and federal levels in this area.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Castaway principals, Educational leadership , Principal, Scapegoat, Turnaround, Turnaround schools
School improvement programs $z United States
School principals $x Dismissal of $z United States
Educational leadership $z United States
Low-performing schools $z United States

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