Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


This study examined whether the theory of deliberate practice could be applied and expanded to the field of education to explain how school leaders successfully work with teachers to improve student achievement in schools with a high percentage of student identified as minority and low income. For the purpose of this study, deliberate practice is defined as practice that is "(a) at an appropriate level, (b) provides informative feedback, (c) provides for opportunities for repetition, and (d) allows for correction of errors" (Sternberg, Grigorenko, & Ferrari, 2002, p. 71).

The researcher completed a qualitative case study of two public elementary schools in the Illinois with more than 50% of students identified as low income and minority that raised student achievement as evidenced by the schools being selected for the Illinois Spotlight Award or the Academic Improvement Award in 2011. The researcher collected data through principal interviews, a survey of all teachers, two separate interviews with each member of a subsample of teachers, and the observation of three professional development activities. The data from these sources were analyzed using the framework of deliberate practice.

The results of the study indicate that the principals of the schools did use components of deliberate practice to increase student achievement. The principals actively worked to create intentional environments within their schools in which the principals expected and supported teachers to continuously refine their instructional

practices to meet students' needs and create an environment of deliberate practice for students. The principals created this environment by focusing on what teachers can do to improve student achievement, taking a balanced approach to utilizing assessment data to drive improvement efforts, and giving teachers flexibility to meet the changing needs of students while also setting foundational expectations for teachers.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.