Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Charles Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. Janet Deck

Third Advisor

Dr. Jessica Rafidi


The Every Student Succeeds Act has set the course for new accountability measures for school and system leaders. How principals lead organizational change might be key to the success their schools experience and the achievement results of their students. This phenomenological study examined the professional experiences, leadership trainings, and strategic initiatives of traditional public school principals who led organizational change efforts that resulted in two academic rating increases within a three-year period. Five principals, representing elementary and high school, were interviewed to collect data on their experiences of leading successful organizational change. Using Moustakas’ (1994) phenomenological method, rigor was established through the application of member checking, bracketing, and validating. From 226 significant statements, six themes emerged. By examining the lived experiences of these principals, greater insights may be gained to assist other school leaders who are responsible for leading organizational change efforts. This research may be valuable for district leaders who are responsible for designing principal professional development programs and courses. Additionally, this research may assist principals who work in turnaround schools and those responsible for developing, training, recruiting, hiring, and retaining highly effective principals.