The administration of innovation: One high school's story

Keith R Pagnotto-Hammitt, University of Pennsylvania


This study describes how the reform-minded educational leaders of one suburban high school brought about the successful implementation of a radically innovative reform program and then watched as its most innovative and novel elements were abandoned before its second full year of implementation. This historical, single case study of a suburban high school utilized two interpretive frameworks to make sense of the history of the reform and the experiences of those charged with leading it. The researcher investigated the role that administrators played in implementing reforms designed to promote a self-renewing innovative academic program as well as the relationship between those who provided leadership for educational innovation and the events that grew out of the effort to implement those innovations. The study explored not only how the reform-minded administrators of this high school approached their leadership role in the implementation of this radical reform, but also what type of interpretive framework might best explain their experiences as well as the nature of the reform itself. Most members of the reform implementing administrative team (including the researcher), along with representatives from the faculty served as the main informants. In addition, artifacts from major events in the reform process, personal notes from participants, routine documents from the school years and notes from the researcher/participant observer and two outside evaluation teams served as data sources. Data from the informants was collected during the summer and fall of 2003, six years after the reform initiative was terminated. The Spring Term, an innovative and radical part of the multifaceted reform program designed to allow students to focus all academic energy on a single, all-day, interdisciplinary or experiential course of study and a part of the reform program that was discontinued by the school after two years, provided a focus for this case study. Interpretation of the related phenomena was a continuous, recursive and productive process continually redefining the study's theoretical and empirical positions.

Subject Area

School administration|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Pagnotto-Hammitt, Keith R, "The administration of innovation: One high school's story" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3260964.