Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership, Research and Counseling

First Advisor

Charles Teddlie


The main goal of this multiple-case exploratory study was to examine and describe the processes, perceptions and changes that occurred at the school level in ten south Louisiana middle schools, as the result of external change agent assistance given through the Louisiana School and District Accountability Program. Within this primary goal, the perception of external change agent influence on: (1) school effectiveness processes (i.e., discipline, teacher collaboration, expectations and quality of instruction); and (2) Fullan's school improvement processes were examined. This multiple case study involved five middle schools in Louisiana with two types of external change agents [i.e., the Distinguished Educator (DE) and District Support Team (DST)] matched with five middle schools with only a DST. These two groups of schools (DE + DST and DST only) were examined through classroom observations (i.e., 107 observations using the Louisiana Components of Effective Teaching), document analysis, school site visits, and interviews. The perception of the external change agent's influence on school effectiveness processes and school improvement processes were examined qualitatively and quantitatively. DEs were perceived as having high influence on teacher collaboration, expectations of teachers/students, and the quality of instruction. DSTs in schools without a DE were not perceived to have any influence on these school effectiveness processes. In three of the five DE schools, the DSTs were considered high or moderately effective. The higher efficacy of the DSTs in DE + DST schools was due to a greater level of involvement by the teams on the school's site, a high level of district leadership serving on the teams, and resources provided by the team. Overall, seven of the ten teams were not perceived as having influence on school improvement activities. MANOVA and ANOVA results relating to differences on effective teaching behaviors between the two groups (DE + DST and DST only) revealed a significant multivariate effect for two instructional components and four measures of teaching effectiveness. The DE + DST schools had significantly higher rates of effective teaching than did the DST only schools. The presence of the DE appears to have a positive effect in attitudinal, behavioral, and cognitive areas.