Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

James Valadez, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Phillip Mirci, Ph.D.

Greg Hamilton, Ed.D.


Education, Leadership, Paradigm, Change, System, 21st century


Educational Leadership | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Other Educational Administration and Supervision | Urban Education


Secondary school principals increasingly face the challenge of working in the space between the existing, obsolete paradigm of education (standardized testing and accountability) and the paradigm that has yet to come into existence (i.e., a radically different way of thinking about education as a social system). Principals continue to be held accountable for increasing student achievement (based on continued use of assessment tools that are inadequate to prepare students for the realities of the 21st Century) while implementing a paradigm that does address realities for the 21st Century. Such a paradigm emphasizes cognitive development where thinking, through reciprocal processes of listening, speaking, reading, writing, and viewing have primacy (i.e., providing opportunities for young people to learn how to think rather than being told what to think as opposed to the emphasis in the traditional transmissive, standardized assessment and accountability paradigm). Thus, principals are caught at the crossroads between a paradigm based on an outdated understanding of achievement and a paradigm based on understanding equity, access, technology, and opportunity gaps caused by societal injustices traditionally advantaging Whites while disadvantaging African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans. The purpose of my study was to understand secondary principals’ perceptions regarding change agentry as it relates to those who viewed change agentry as paradigmatic (meaning a change in leadership, assessment, curriculum, and the definition of achievement) from those who seek piecemeal changes and do not recognize a need for a paradigmatic change. All participants spoke of a paradigmatic change, but perceptions and beliefs shared by participants suggest it is not yet understood.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Dissertation Location