School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


John Durye


cost-effectiveness, return on investment, school district consolidation, student academic achievement, transformational leadership


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership | Education Economics | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


The purpose of this multisite case study was to understand and explain how a school district can be cost-efficient and sustain high student academic achievement. Based on a 2011 study, three school districts were selected because they had high ratios of student academic achievement to per pupil expenditures. The school districts differed in size, geographic location, student body demographics, and district organizational structure. Using a postpositivist perspective and a transformational leadership theoretical framework, 15 in-depth interviews with district leaders and school principals were conducted along with evaluation of district archives and South Carolina school report card data. A flexible, qualitative design was used to allow modifications in the research plan, but the overall structure followed the general scientific method. Cross-case analysis found districts which are cost-effective and provide high student academic achievement (a) cultivate camaraderie among administrators and faculty, (b) provide individualized attention to students, (c) complete comprehensive data analysis, (d) advance a strong relationship with community members, and (e) focus on priorities.