Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Francine Menashy

Second Advisor

Zeena Zakharia

Third Advisor

Kathryn McDermott


Many researchers, politicians, and educators argue that education reforms focused solely on efforts inside school walls are not broad enough to translate into significant gains in academic performance for students in low-income areas or to close the achievement gap. Only limited research, however, has focused on the formulation and determination of large-scale education reform policies such as community schools at the district level in large cities. My research uses a process tracing analysis of the respective policy determination processes in Baltimore City, MD and Boston, MAtwo cities that contemplated community schools as a reform possibility. The process tracing methodology explores and describes phenomena related to the policy processes in order to “add inferential leverage that is often lacking in quantitative analysis” (Collier, 2011 p. 823). Kingdon’s (1995) Multiple Streams model frames my analysis of the complicated and interconnected pathways that lie beneath the surface of each city’s policy decisions, as well as illuminates the roles of key individuals, policy dynamics, and organizations in the policy making process. The study revealed an array of inhibiting factors in Boston and a more complicated series of enabling and inhibiting policy dynamics in Baltimore City, suggesting three dynamics that, if in place, may facilitate policy determination processes around large-scale education reform initiatives: (1) sufficient collective political will from the superintendent and the mayor; (2) a clearly defined model with targeted messaging and effective marketing; and (3) powerful advocacy by community members and coalitions.


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