Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kathleen Bushman


A recent law in a New England state allowed public schools to operate with increased flexibility and autonomy through the authorization of the creation of Innovation Schools. This project study, a program evaluation using a convergent parallel mixed methods research design, allowed for a comprehensive evaluation of the first Innovation School (IS). Activity theory, which conceptualizes change in systems involving human interaction, was the theoretical foundation of this study. The research questions focused on the efficacy of the autonomous school redesign model in involving stakeholders in participatory decision making, improving teacher collaboration, expanding teacher empowerment, and increasing student achievement on a state standardized assessment. Descriptive and statistical analyses of a preestablished survey on teacher empowerment were used to collect data, and student achievement was examined via parametric statistical analyses of standardized state achievement assessments of 3 rd, 4th and 5th grade students. Independent and paired t-test analyses documented significant increases in teacher empowerment and student achievement test scores associated with the IS model. Qualitative data, focus group and individual interviews, were analyzed through open coding and deriving summative themes of stakeholder perceptions to extend the quantitative results. The combined findings demonstrated that the IS model significantly impacted teacher empowerment and student achievement. The implications for social change lies in giving stakeholders a voice and decision making authority. As a result, schools can become organizations where stakeholders, regardless of race, color, national origin, or educational attainment, become responsible for issues related to the teaching and learning of the entire school community.