Title page for ETD etd-012999-133354

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Vartenisian, John Paul
Author's Email Address jvarteni@neocomm.net
URN etd-012999-133354
Title An Elementary School Speaks Out: Their Decision To Initiate An Innovation
Degree Doctor of Education
Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Fortune, Jimmie C. Committee Co-Chair
Gillespie, Diane Newkirk Committee Co-Chair
Abouzeid, Mary P. Committee Member
Carlton, Patrick W. Committee Member
Earthman, Glen I. Committee Member
  • School change
  • innovation change
  • empowerment
  • collaboration
Date of Defense 1998-12-15
Availability unrestricted


This study is a retrospective examination of elements that influenced one

elementary school staff to initiate and implement a school-wide innovation in

their reading program in 1990-91. This school served 315 preschool children

through grade three in small town set in the rural countryside. Case study

methodology was used to discover how the change was initiated; why the

particular program elements were chosen; the role of the staff, the principal, and

the parents played in initiating the innovation; and what lessons this school’s

experience may have for school reform.

As the school community planned for the initiation of their new reading

program, the “whole language” approach to reading was gaining momentum. The

notion of “early intervention” was popularly used to describe a variety of methods

educators were using to deal with evidence of reading failure in young children.

Their stories describe the challenges this school staff felt as they attempted a year-long

initiative to merge phonics and whole language into a holistic approach to

reading for grades one through three. Findings were reported around seven central

themes emerging from the data collection, including: 1) empowerment, 2)

academic improvement, 3) shared vision/beliefs, 4) collaboration, 5) focus on

children’s needs, 6) site-based decision making, 7) participatory leadership.

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