Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Bruce P. Uhrmacher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Bin Ramke

Third Advisor

Paul Michalec

Fourth Advisor

Nicholas Cutforth


Grounded theory, Holistic education, No Child Left Behind, School reform, Socio-semiotics, Spirituality


This study used a Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology to understand the varying perceptions held by different stakeholding groups (state legislators, superintendents, building administrators, teachers, and parents) about No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and other related reform efforts such as the Common Core. 12 participants from these five stakeholding groups were purposefully chosen, all from the state of Idaho, and in-depth interviews were performed, parsed out into three phases to inductively invite themes and categories for inquiry. Following each interview, a socio-semiotic analysis was performed using participant language in an integrated effort to identify deeply held beliefs and perceptions of school reform, both past and present. Through the first two phases of interviewing, participant language strongly suggested that any reform effort, past or present, would not succeed unless stakeholding groups effectively ‘buy-in’ to it, and especially if it is perceived to come from the ‘top-down’. Using this language, participants had trouble transcending deeply-seated perceptions of reform based on power and fear. However, by the third and final phase of interviewing, a more potent genus of language was uncovered, one that not only transcended this dominantly regressive and progressive language, but one that all stakeholding groups seemed to agree upon; what’s more is that once interviewees were able to break through the rhetoric of reform in its past and present forms, a more purposeful, if not spiritual, language based on holistic principles of joy, love, care, honesty, openness, and connection ‘shined through’. It was with this ‘shining-through’ language, that interviewees spoke without fear or concern for power, and a deeply held purpose emerged, helping them to transcend their individual stakeholding roles and perceptions, and thus recover the true ‘core’ of their beliefs as educational stakeholders. Therefore, this study presents a Grounded Theory within which state and local reformers can more responsibly create and implement reform, one that promotes a holistic language of reform that does not come from the ‘top-down’, or even the ‘bottom-up’, but, rather, from the ‘inside-out’. Similarly, it suggests that in order to successfully implement any reform, the true ‘core’ of teaching and learning must be honored – the joy, love, connection, and purpose in education that ‘shined through’ once interviewees were given authentic opportunity to share it.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Timothy Arkell Price


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

195 p.


Education, Education policy, Spirituality