Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version



Delaney, J.C., (2016) Turnaround Elementary Principals in Rural Missouri (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Nebraska).


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education,) Under the Supervision of Professor Marilyn Grady. Lincoln, Nebraska: March, 2016

Copyright © 2016 Julie Chaloupka Delaney


Rural high poverty schools can often be invisible to those not living in rural areas. The number of students in rural areas is not far below the number of urban students, yet there has been little attention or research about rural school student achievement (Arnold et al., 2006; Pitchford 2011; Richard, 2005). The state of Missouri has established a program entitled Top Ten By Twenty. This initiative has been an impetus for change in rural high poverty schools. The program has led to increased student achievement in more than 60 rural high poverty schools. In this study, these schools were labeled “turnaround schools.” The practices of “turnaround” principals in Missouri high poverty rural elementary schools were the focus of the study. A collective case study of elementary principals identified through Missouri Department of Education Data Reports and National Center for Educational Statistics led to the identification of the common practices used by the principals of the turnaround schools.

Seven themes emerged from the data: culture, leadership, curriculum and instruction, systems, challenges, stakeholders, and the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education. Each of the themes contributed to the school turnaround process. The study findings suggest practices that transform school culture and lead to school improvement.

Adviser: Marilyn Grady