David Reeder

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2005


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Nancy H. Stankus

Committee Member

Elizabeth R. Donohoe

Committee Member

P. Duff Rearick

Committee Member

Patrick Crawford


improving academic achievement, school reform, teacher selection process, zero based staffing


This case study examined the process of zero-based staffing as a reform model for improving academic achievement at an underachieving elementary school in a county school system in Maryland. The process of zero-based staffing involved the involuntary transfer of all professional staff from the building. This study examined the zero-based process used to restructure the school, the teacher selection process, and the characteristics of the teachers selected for the school. A qualitative design methodology was employed to examine the processes through a naturalistic inquiry approach. Four semistructured interview instruments were utilized to gather data from the superintendent, principal, teachers, and the teacher selection committee. Superintendent, principal, and teacher interviews were conducted in a one-on-one setting. The teacher selection committee was interviewed as a group. The researcher attended a variety of school meetings and visited classrooms as an indweller to gain perspective regarding the school culture. In addition, Maryland State Assessment data was examined to compare student achievement before and after the new teachers were hired for the school. The comparison of Maryland State Assessment data from one year to the next indicated improvement in both reading and math. This improvement was significant enough to remove the school from the state list of failing schools. Results of the study indicated that the use of zero-based staffing as a reform model was effective in facilitating the hiring of teachers with common characteristics and values. Primary characteristics and values of these teachers included the belief that all children can learn and a positive and caring attitude. These attitudes combined with the willingness and expectation to engage in continuous and collaborative learning improved student performance.