The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. John Eller

Second Advisor

Dr. Amy Christensen

Third Advisor

Dr. James Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Laurie Putnam

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

: reconfiguration, grade spans, elementary, principal, policy, accountability



The standards movement and subsequent accountability measures invoked by federal mandate has influenced elementary schools in multiple ways. As school principals navigate initiatives to impact student success, limited research has been carried out on the role of school configuration on elementary students’ academic success (Coladarci & Hancock, 2002; Dove et al., 2010; Franklin & Glascock, 1996; Howley, 2002; Paglin & Fager, 1997; Renchler, 2002; Seller, 2004; Wren, 2003). This study examines the relationship between educational policy, accountability measures, and grade span reconfiguration at the elementary level.

Through a structured interviews with six Minnesota school principals who had experienced reconfiguration of grade spans at their elementary schools between 2015 to 2019, the study identifies what select elementary principals report are the effects of accountability measures on decision-making in reconfiguring schools, the subsequent effect reconfiguration had on student success, and how geographic classification of the school community is related to reconfiguring schools.

The finding from this study suggests education policy can affect elementary school principal's decision to reconfigure schools. The majority of current literature concludes broader grade spans at the elementary level has a positive impact on elementary students’ success (Alspaugh & Harting, 1995; Howley, 2002; Johnson et al., 2016; Renchler, 2000; Wihry et al., 1992; Wren, 2003). The findings from this study support the opposite conclusion as participants reported more advantages to narrower grade span configurations.

Key words: reconfiguration, grade spans, elementary, principal, policy, accountability



I owe my deepest gratitude to Tammy, my incredible spouse. I am forever thankful for the unconditional love and support throughout the entire doctoral and dissertation experience. To my children, John and Hannah, you inspire me to continue to do better each day. I am grateful for my parents, Richard and Colleen, whose constant love and support has guided my decisions throughout the years. My accomplishments and successes are due to my family.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to my advisor, Dr. John Eller, whose encouragement and invaluable insights I will never forget. Dr. Eller embraces the practice of growing education leaders, and his impact reaches far beyond the college campus. I want to thank Dr. James Johnson and Dr. Amy Christensen for their knowledgeable contributions. I would also like to recognize Dr. Laurie Putnam. As a mentor and friend, Dr. Putnam challenged me to take on this adventure and believed I would complete the doctoral journey.



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