Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Steve Myran

Committee Member

Ian Sutherland

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh


Beliefs about achievement impact the educational experiences of students. The mainstream ideology of achievement espouses that anyone can be successful as long as they put forth effort and work hard. This belief fails to account for systemic barriers that have limited historically marginalized groups of people from achieving. Research has focused on the beliefs of teachers with scant research done on the beliefs of school leaders. This study focused on what school leaders believe about achievement and how it impacts their daily practice. In addition, the ideologies of the school leaders were compared and contrasted with an ideology rooted in social justice. The goal of this study was to gain insight into what school leaders believe about achievement and add to the literature about achievement ideologies and school leaders. This study utilized a qualitative method rooted in grounded theory. The triangulated protocol used interviews and questionnaires to guide the data collection process. Participants’ beliefs about achievement, challenges to achievement, their impact on achievement, and how these beliefs impact their daily practice were revealed. The shared experiences of secondary urban school leaders provided insight into what school leaders believe about achievement, how they do and do not operate with an ideology rooted in social justice, and how these beliefs guide their praxis.