Defense Date


Graduation Date



Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Helen C. Sobehart

Committee Member

James C. Higgins

Committee Member

Launcelot Brown


achievement, adequate yearly progress, assessment, leadership, policymakers, reform


Despite the attention devoted to school reform in the past century, mandated initiatives enacted by policymakers have wrought few long lasting improvements in education. Throughout the last six decades of reform, federal and state lawmakers have exercised unparalleled sway on student learning, with political agendas taking precedence over breakthroughs in educational pedagogy. Taking a different approach, recent research suggests that systemic reform is more likely to occur at the local level, with schools whose culture fosters positive trust relationships being more effective than their lower trust counterparts. This collective instrumental case study expands upon extant research by examining the perceived influence of teacher-school board member trust relationships on school effectiveness in rural and suburban Erie County, Pennsylvania elementary schools that house Grade 5. Data regarding perceptions of school effectiveness, education related practices designed to improve school effectiveness, and perceptions of teacher-school board member relationships were obtained from an opinion inventory distributed to school board members and elementary teachers and interpreted in light of a National Association of School Boards derived definition of effectiveness, Hoy and Miskel's school structure typology, and Hoy and Tschannen-Moran's definition of faculty trust. Interviews concerning the same topics were then conducted with school board members and teachers from one higher and one lower performing school as defined by two-year results on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment and interpreted according to the same frameworks. The analysis of documents and media provided a comprehensive portrait of each school and also served to triangulate data. The predicted effectiveness of the resulting structures was then compared to the schools' actual effectiveness as evidenced by standardized achievement test scores and efficacy indicators defined by the National School Boards Association. Analysis pointed to the school having positive teacher-school board member trust relationships as being more effective than the school in which such relationships were lacking. Results also suggested the presence of an indirect model of leadership in which the superintendent's leadership practices affected the relationship between teachers and school board members by controlling the flow of communication between the two groups.