Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Educational Leadership, Educational Reform

Major Advisor

Barry G. Sheckley

Associate Advisor

Casey Cobb

Associate Advisor

Bob Villanova

Associate Advisor

Morgaen Donaldson

Associate Advisor

Richard Schwab

Field of Study

Education Administration


Doctor of Education

Open Access

Open Access


This study explored the leadership roles of a school district’s, Memorial Public Schools, central office in literacy reform as related to five areas of a theoretical frame that included: (a) activities related to bringing a coherent focus on the reform effort within the instructional core; (b) activities related to developing the instructional leadership necessary to carry out the reform effort; (c) activities related to professional learning necessary to build the capacity of teachers to implement the reform; (d) activities related to ensuring that the reform initiative provided equitable educational access for students; and (e) activities related to developing and implementing the policies to support the reform effort. The study used interpretive qualitative methods (Cresswell, 2006; Caelli, Ray, & Mill, 2003; Merriam et al, 2001) in order to describe the complex inter-relationships involved among the data sources (e.g., interview data, an equity audit, district documents, and a reflective journal). The unit of analysis for this study was the activities of the central office leaders (Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Director of Elementary Education and PK – 5 Language Arts Consultant) as they related to implementing the literacy reform effort in the five areas of the theoretical frame. Analysis revealed (a) 45% of the research-based principles were followed, and (b) 55% of the research-based principles were either somewhat followed (25%) or not followed (30%) by Memorial’s central office administrators. Accordingly, the lack of follow-through on these research principles appeared to have an impact in that the school district did not fully realize the level of change it desired by implementing Readers’ Workshop (Calkins, 2000) in all elementary schools. Results revealed that over the six-year period following the reform, scores on the Developmental Reading Assessment 2 had improved while the Connecticut Mastery Test results remained mostly flat and declined in some schools. Recommendations include specific steps related to the role of the central office in curriculum alignment reform focused on the instructional core.