Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Patti L. Chance, chair

Second Committee Member

Carl Steinhoff

Third Committee Member

Pamela Salazar

Graduate Faculty Representative

Pam Campbell

Number of Pages



The purposes of this study were to (a) identify how leadership in a successful rural school districts has helped raise student achievement levels beyond those of comparable school districts as measured by state and federal mandated test scores, (b) investigate the district leadership that aligns with identified effective practices, and (c) investigate leadership, culture and the resultant student success. Three research questions guided the study: (1) What are the factors in the academic and extra-curricular programs that support a rural school district which has exceeded academic expectations? (2) What are the factors in leadership practices that support a rural school district which has exceeded academic expectations? (3) What are contextual cultural factors that support a rural school district which has exceeded academic expectations?

A qualitative case study method was employed, with data collected from interviews, formal and informal observations, surveys and questionnaires, and artifacts. The data were triangulated enabling the researcher to capture and explore the intricate details of the phenomena.

The study focused on a K-12 rural school district located in a Western State. The district was selected for making consistent progress towards its Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) growth target consistently over a six year period.

Findings from this study indicated the use of data driven decisions to select specific curricular programs across all schools led to outstanding academic improvements. Further, the Superintendent acting as a visionary leader inspired the district's stakeholders to share their academic expectations and begin the process of implementing stakeholders' goals. Finally, the cultural shift, led by the Superintendent, occurred after veteran staff and community members began to introduce new staff to their established expectations.


Academic achievement; Achievement; Culture; Education; Education; Rural; Educational leadership; Leadership; Rural; Rural education; Rural schools; Student achievement; Visionary leadership


Educational Administration and Supervision | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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