Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Janice Kelly

Second Supervisor

Fran Wills


After 12 years since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind legislation and six years of Race to the Top national educational policy, both designed to address the educational achievement gap and improve many of America’s failing schools, the persistence of failing schools in urban communities continues to exist. This problem demands bold, innovative, even non-traditional initiatives. The research of this dissertation, called the Queens Middle School (QMS) Study, looks to determine the strategies implemented by a transformational leader at a low performing Queens, New York middle school, 10 years ago, in a manner that reveals new educational models that reveals best practices that will help today’s urban school leader. The QMS study contributes to the body of knowledge on educational reform by introducing new practices and generating new theories regarding improving student outcomes in an urban school setting. The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of the decision-making process, programmatic strategies, and the engagement of multiple stakeholders by a transformational leader engaged in an agenda of change in an urban, low-performing middle school. More specifically, the study evaluates the use of hip-hop as a motivational tool to engage students and faculty at QMS in a reform effort. The design of this qualitative study utilized focus groups of three distinct stakeholders--teachers, students, parents to assess their perceptions of what led to the improvement of QMS. Through the lens of transformational leadership and educational change theory, this study assesses the impact of change on school improvement.

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