Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Michael Wischnowski

Second Supervisor

Susan Hildenbrand


The 2009 Report to Congress on Head Start Monitoring indicated that Head Start grantee non-compliance findings have increased since 2008, implying that grantee non-compliance is an issue for the Head Start field. The poor performance of grantees during Federal Monitoring Reviews demonstrates the critical need to investigate turnaround practices of Head Start directors who have successfully improved their low-performing programs to high-performing in compliance with the Head Start Performance Standards (HSPS) and successfully achieved a Federal Monitoring Review with no findings. The investigation of Head Start turnaround practices is not reflected in the current literature. However, business and K-12 settings have contributed to scholarly literature regarding organizational turnaround. The purpose of this study is to examine the dynamics of the turnaround process in Head Start programs as described by directors of underperforming programs that experienced turnaround and the leadership behaviors implemented to facilitate performance improvements. The study employed a qualitative cross-case analysis, guided by Kotter’s (1996) Eight-Stage Change Model as the conceptual framework to investigate Head Start turnaround practices. The qualitative methodology enabled the researcher to analyze the relationship between the strategies the leaders engaged in and the changes within their programs. The findings revealed four themes as described by the Head Start turnaround directors: a) Organizational Noncompliance, (b) Managing Self, (c) Managing Others and (d) Systems Turnaround. Additionally, the findings unveil the introduction of the Four- v Stage Turnaround Model. Moreover, the researcher proposed six recommendations, three recommendations for the Office of Head Start (OHS) and three recommendations for Head Start directors. The Head Start field will benefit from informed research in an effort to build a capacity for successful turnaround strategies. This effort will minimize the potential of performance issues plaguing Head Start programs threatening the continuity of quality of educational services for children.

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