Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership


In the late 1970s, Ted Sizer, professor of education at Brown University, and a team of researchers traveled the country visiting dozens of secondary schools. The purpose of these visits was to understand the American high school by observing it firsthand. Sizer reported his findings in 1984 in Horace's Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School.

In response to the compromises raised in Horace's Compromise, 12 schools volunteered to become the Coalition of Essential Schools. The Coalition rests on a set of nine Common Principles, which include intellectual rigor, simple and universal goals, personalized school, graduation by exhibitions of mastery, student-as-worker, tone of the school, staff, and budget.

This study identified the following issues of the nine K—12 school districts that have established membership with the Coalition: (a) how member school administrators and member school coordinators of the nine K-12 school districts interpret the nine Common Principles, (b) the subsequent structural changes the nine K—12 member schools undergo after becoming members of the Coalition, and (c) the subsequent pedagogical changes that the nine K -12 member schools undergo after becoming members of the Coalition.

Closed-form mailed questionnaires were sent to the 28 participants of this study. The statistical analyses used were the phi coefficient and the chi-square goodness-of-fit test.

The results revealed that both school administrators and school coordinators understood the meanings of the nine Common Principles. The results also revealed that subsequent structural changes have occurred since the nine districts have become members of the Coalition. Structural changes included block scheduling, common planning time for faculty, more opportunities for multiage programs, and abandonment of programs that are no longer useful.

The subsequent pedagogical changes that have occurred since the nine districts have established membership included increased use of alternative assessments, multiple opportunities to demonstrate achievement, use of cooperative learning activities, increased use of thematic studies, and increased opportunities for experiential learning.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access