Organization Development

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Organization Development (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



John Conbere; Alla Heorhiadi; Stephen Brookfield


This positivistic case study documents the processes and outcomes of an urban charter school implementing an advisory centered, project-based school reform model from conception to the end of year three. Currently throughout the United States innovative school reformers are actively designing and implementing new schools. Historically, school models that go beyond traditional teaching and learning paradigms have faced significant resistance and, once in place, have been difficult to sustain. Utilizing the theoretical framework of organization development and systems thinking (Senge, 1990, 1994, 2000) and applying a lens of critical theory (Brookfield, 2005) the researcher examined the challenges and achievements of starting a new charter school.

The researcher created a theory and tested it for developing and sustaining successful charter schools. The study examined data from nationally normed formative and summative assessments, as well as satisfaction surveys. Data was also collected to assess autonomy, belongingness, goal orientation, academic press, engagement and hope. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with both staff and students. The analysis of the data supported the fourteen essential processes defined in the theory that are needed to help implement and sustain a new school.

To implement an innovative new school, planners have a school design or design essentials that act as a roadmap. Often missing are the essential processes needed to reinforce or activate the intended design. Additional research is needed concerning how the process essentials identified in this study may contribute to successful school development. The data also identified an implementation effect and limits of growth that was linked to the negative impact of compliance to requirements of the federally mandated No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. More research is needed to determine if the implementation effect and limits of growth transfers to other schools throughout the United States.


urban charter schools, teacher led schools, challenges school reform, urban school development, innovative school development, school improvement design

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.