Second order change leadership, equity and access to excellence


The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions of 244 school- and district-based administrators who were employed in a Florida school district from 2003- 2011 regarding superintendent second-order change leadership decisions and events to achieve equity and access to excellence for all students in the school district. Interviews were also conducted with 11 active and retired school-based and district-based administrators to specifically address any factors that led to equity and access to excellence as well as any challenges the school district faced when implementing those actions and decisions. Quantitative data were used for a historical comparison of the targeted school district prior to and after 2003 to further understand the impact of equity and access to excellence within the school district. Two superintendent decisions were believed to be extremely educationally significant by respondents: High school reading centerpiece and International Baccalaureate program launch at Seminole High School. Respondents were least familiar with Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition established and Established Principal Forum. Three events were largely believed to be extremely educationally significant by respondents: District rated A each year of accountability, District designated academically high- performing, and Unitary status achieved. Respondents were least familiar with Florida Center for Reading Research project in high schools and Superintendent Leadership transition. iv Responses to open-ended questions indicated that equity and access to excellence were achieved in the school district between 2003 to 2011. The decision to attain unitary status led to other actions and decisions to achieve equity and access to excellence, e.g., the creation of magnet schools, the introduction of open access to Advanced Placement courses. The superintendent’s greatest challenge was perceived by respondents as lack of funding. Interviewees cited poverty as a limiting factor in achievement of equity and excellence. All respondents agreed that working with the lowest achieving 25% of students to improve performance on the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test was key to achieving equity and excellence in the school district. Most of the interviewees believed that all students have access to equity and excellence. In offering advice to other districts, most of the interviewees stressed the importance of focusing on data, demographics, and academic programs, stating that leaders should be committed to achieving equity and excellence and there needs to be total buy-in from the whole district. Further, superintendent success depended on a clear focus, a set of core values and the willingness and courage to implement second-order change.


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Graduation Date





Taylor, Rosemarye


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance


Educational and Human Sciences

Degree Program

Educational Leadership








Release Date

December 2013

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic,