Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

George Straface

Second Advisor

Elinor Katz

Third Advisor

Susan Korach

Fourth Advisor

Roger E. Salters


Education, Equity, Leadership, Moral leadership, Principals, Turnaround education


Across the United States, school districts are working to turnaround their lowest performing schools in order to meet the requirements of Adequate Yearly Progress mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. These failing schools are facing district, state, and federal sanctions of closure, takeover, or restructuring. A new phenomenon emerging from this dire state in education is the turnaround leader. An educational turnaround leader is one who leads a high poverty, low performing school to dramatic improvement. Limited research exists on educational turnaround leaders, but what is available hypothesizes that turnaround leaders have different characteristics and qualities.

The purpose of this study was to explore the phenomenon of turnaround school leadership and to identify the essential attributes of a turnaround leader. Turnaround principals were identified across the state of Colorado based on their School Accountability rating improvements over a two to five year period. Interviews were conducted, transcribed, and data analyzed using the classic grounded theory methodology of coding, memoing, theoretical sampling, and constant comparative analysis.

The study generated a set of conceptual hypotheses and an integrated theoretical model that explains the behavior of the turnaround principals as they worked to solve their main problem of improving the lives of the disadvantaged students in their schools through academic achievement. The theoretical model represents the essential attributes of the turnaround principals consisting of intellectual attributes and emotional attributes held in a dynamic state by two balancing attributes. The attribute of moral leadership emerged as the core category at the center of the model and was the prime mover of the behavior of the turnaround principals. Turnaround principals are moral leaders who infuse moral leadership in their thinking, decisions, and actions.

Publication Statement

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

Rights Holder

Doris E. Candelarie


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

261 p.


Educational administration, Education, Elementary education