The STEM initiative---a multiple case study of mission-driven leadership in two schools implementing STEM in Texas: Successes, obstacles, and lessons learned




Stotts, Jennifer L.

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This qualitative study explored Mission-Driven Leadership in two high schools implementing the STEM education initiative in Texas. The study employed critical theory and a pragmatic lens to inform the findings. As part of the data collection process, interviews were conducted with the principals and a focus group of three to five teachers from each campus. Data was collected from state assessment reports, school websites, observations, photos, the researcher's own reflexive journal, and from artifact data requested from the schools. The primary method of recording the interpretations of the data was narrative form with poetic transcriptions.

The findings revealed five major themes requisite to successful implementation of the STEM Academies Design Blueprint. One, the school leader must promote a clear mission and incorporate a culture of collective trust and collective responsibility as key components of a responsive system that reflects to continually improve school capacity. Two, leaders must develop an open climate with positive organizational health where authenticity, respect, and trust form the basis for collaboration and collegial relationships , and where there exists a shared locus of agency. Third, STEM schools must adopt high levels of academic optimism and engagement, develop internal professional capacity, and graduate all students ready for college and careers in STEM fields. Fourth, the culture must advance a strong capacity for improvement through: collaborative leadership, student voice, and a reflective practice on pedagogy and culture. And fifth, the purpose of the STEM Leadership Coach should be clearly defined to include discourse, reflection, and action on the previous four findings so that school leaders see value in the coaching process. These research findings are important and timely to address school districts and state and national education reform platforms that seek to develop a STEM-minded teaching force, increase the intellectual STEM capital of all students, develop the P-20 STEM pipeline, and contribute to increased student achievement for all.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


Academic Optimism, Climate, Culture, Math Reform, Mission-Driven Leadership, STEM



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies