Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Second Advisor

Walter Gmelch

Third Advisor

Larry Brewster

Fourth Advisor

Frank Lynch


Improving American schools, and as a result, the educational leaders who guide and oversee American schools, has an historic background; yet research to accomplish the improvement is rooted in urban schools and male educational leaders, particularly the superintendent of schools. National and state leaders have used education policy as a means to improve student achievement for decades. California played a pivotal roll in the national trend for numerous years; most recently with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) policy passed in 2013. The purpose of this study was to listen to the voices of female, rural superintendents as they implemented California’s Local Control Funding Formula policy.

This qualitative study included nine participants from rural Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in Central and Northern California. Each participant participated in a 1-hour, semi-structured interview in her office. The researcher also observed each participant as they facilitated a meeting. The third piece of this triangulated research design included the review of each LEA’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). All data were collected, analyzed, and coded to Grogan and Shakeshaft’s (2011) diverse collective leadership theory. This emerging theory identifies five themes through which women educational leaders generally lead: relational leadership, leadership for social justice, leadership for learning, spiritual leadership, and balanced leadership.

Data from the interviews, observations, and LCAP indicate strong evidence supporting Grogan and Shakeshaft’s diverse collective leadership theory. All participants exhibited multiple data points in more than one of the leadership themes identified in the theory with relational leadership being the most pervasive followed by leadership for learning and social justice leadership. Both balanced and spiritual leadership had scant data points leading the researcher to question why. Further research in the areas of rural, female superintendents was recommended in addition to extensive research to support Grogan and Shakeshaft’s emerging theory. Particular attention to examining the presence or absence of balanced and spiritual leadership was also suggested.