Education Doctorate

Year Approved


First Advisor

Storbeck, Emily


The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore the principals’ perceptions of factors leading to academic improvement in Title I elementary schools in Minnesota. Participants included eight Title I elementary principals who led their schools from 2016-2019 and significantly improved their students’ math and reading Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) scores during that time period. Interviews were coded through MaxQDA and synthesized to develop themes connected to school improvement. The data suggested seven total themes for perceived factors in school improvement: the principal’s focus and intentionality, the principal’s continuous improvement mindset, strategic use of academic data, a culture of high expectations and accountability, teaching academic standards and utilizing formative assessment, academic support and interventions, and teacher continuous improvement. Factors such as academic interventions and formative assessment were not as readily discussed in the literature, but prevalent in the research data. This research provides significant practical applications such as identifying a focus for the school, developing an intervention system, and collecting data for decisions. Future research could explore perceptions of middle or high school improvement principals; another geographical location; or specific aspects of school improvement such as the principal’s intentionality, interventions and support, or data and assessments.

Degree Name

Education Doctorate

Document Type

Doctoral dissertation