Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Donna J. Thomas


Most students in schools from impoverished areas in one southeastern state were not achieving academically according to state-mandated accountability expectations. However, students in 3 impoverished schools from 1 school district demonstrated successful academic achievement according to state standards. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how 14 administrators of these impoverished schools described personal transformational leadership behaviors. The study was based on the conceptual framework of transformational leadership as defined by a set of leadership behaviors. Data were collected from individual interviews and personal reflection surveys of administrators of public schools in 1 school district in which at least 50% of the student population was from low socioeconomic circumstances. Through thematic analysis using a priori coding, open coding, and axial coding of administrators' descriptions, key results aligned with the conceptual framework indicated that application of transformational leadership behaviors explained much of the successful outcomes of the schools. The themes that resonated through the study included relationships, collective efficacy, and a culture of coaching. The study contributes to positive social change by identifying areas in which school leaders may build professional capacity to more effectively use transformational leadership behaviors to positively affect the academic achievement of students from impoverished households.