Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred Galloway, EdD, Chairperson Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Member Lea Hubbard, PhD, Member


HELP, School Reform, Highly Effective Learning Progressive, International School Reform, Future Ready Skills


Highly effective learning progressive (HELP) environments can prepare students to be future-ready with the needed knowledge and skills to thrive in an ever-changing world. This case study captured the characteristics and measured the effectiveness of an international school working to become a HELP environment using the high-reliability schools (HRS) framework and the leadership practices that enabled them.

This mixed-method study used an explanatory sequential design, beginning with a survey of 122 teachers based on the HRS model (Marzano et al., 2014), where teachers were asked to respond to a series of statements designed to measure the case-study school’s effectiveness and the associated leadership practices. A regression analysis of the survey results showed divisional differences to be statistically significant. This survey was followed by the second phase, with three focus groups and 15 individual interviews as the qualitative part of the study. A cross-case analysis between divisions revealed the leadership practices that helped to enable the divisions to implement the HELP characteristics.

The findings showed that effective leadership was indispensable to effecting change. The findings presented two extreme cases: (a) one in the elementary division, where the leadership effectively implemented the HELP characteristics, and (b) in the high school division, where the leadership did not effectively implement the characteristics. Results revealed establishing a trusting environment that allows for openness and risk-taking, feeling the pulse of the environment and providing constant support, developing a learning culture where learning is happening among the teams and from outside the teams, and building cohesion were some of the key leadership practices that effected significant change. The study also identified the key leadership practices that enabled each of the five levels identified by the HRS model. The results revealed that Level 1: safe, supportive, and collaborative culture was foundational for schools to effect the change.

This study had all the limitations of single case studies, so the findings are not generalizable in a traditional social science sense. However, the schools that are attempting to be effective in creating a reliable HELP environment can use this study as a marker to align their leadership practices.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies

Creative Commons License

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