First Advisor

Weiler, Spencer

Second Advisor

Vogel, Linda R.

Document Type


Date Created



The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences and perceptions of principals whose schools were granted innovation status in accordance with the Colorado Innovation Schools Act of 2008 (CISA). The CISA created a statewide system that allowed individual schools and entire districts to increase autonomy and flexibility in areas such as staffing, scheduling, educational programming, and resource allocation. The data were collected from interviews with principals and a rural superintendent and from an examination of the School Innovation Plans. Data were refined into common themes, and a rich narrative was created. The conclusions indicated that successful principals of innovation schools understand the change process, focus on instructional leadership, promote a positive school culture, require autonomy, implement exemplary leadership strategies and qualities, and tailor innovation plans to the needs of the school. The conclusions also indicated that successful superintendents tailor innovation plans to the needs of the district. This research is important because education reform in the United States is in need of school reform models that result in increased academic achievement. The implications for positive change are that schools given the autonomy and flexibility to operate may have the potential to increase academic achievement. In addition, the CISA model has the potential to be replicated for application in other states. The experiences and perceptions of principals of innovation schools provided a window into the leadership role principals have in implementing the Colorado Innovations Schools Act of 2008.

Abstract Format



Educational leadership; Education; Educational administration; achievement gap; innovation; leadership; policy; principals; reform


146 pages

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Copyright is held by author.