Date of Award

Fall 12-10-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Eunyoung Kim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anthony Colella, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joe Potts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Merri Rieger, Ph.D.


Central Office Transformation, District Reform, Assistance Relationships, Professional Capital, Organizational Theory, Power Trust and Collaboration, School Improvement


The purpose of this study was to examine the described experiences of 20 participants—central office executives and specialists, principals, and teacher leaders—in the district support team (DST) process, a manifestation of central office transformation as an approach to school improvement. The site of this study was the Puget Sound School District in Washington State. The district was in its third year of central office transformation employing a differentiated support service model to assist its lowest performing schools. This case study utilized qualitative data from semi-structured interviews, document review, and field observations to understand the prevalence of the six elements of assistance relationships, experiences of collaboration among participants, capacity-building that resulted from the process, and the commonalities and differences in the experiences of different participant groups. Previous research on central office transformation, professional capital, and organizational theory provided the theoretical guide for this research. The conceptual framework was assistance relationships, grounded in sociocultural learning theory. Four major themes emerged from this study: the ambiguity of the DST purpose, process, and participants’ roles; the role and impact of power and trust in the collaborative process; the use of tools and resources as means to facilitate discussions and decisions; and finally, the DST process as the impetus for growing and building instructional capacity of all participants. This study found that all six elements of assistance relationships were present to varying degrees in the DST process, but that an imbalance of power and trust delayed the development of collaboration. The study also found that the DST process built the instructional and leadership capacity of all participants. While participants demonstrated varying degrees of understanding of the purpose of, and their roles and responsibilities within, the DST process, all participants agreed that they benefited from the use of tools and protocols to focus discussions and decisions. In addition, all participants felt the pervasiveness of power and its impact on participants’ receptivity to the process. Finally, participants reported that the DST process increased their social capital by expanding their networks outside of their immediate work group, giving them greater access to information and other resources.