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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Sharon F. Rallis

Second Advisor

Lisa A. Keller

Third Advisor

Dania V. Francis

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership | Other Teacher Education and Professional Development


In 2009-2010, Riverton Elementary School in Portland, ME was awarded a School Improvement Grant (SIG), supported by the Federal Department of Education (Federal DOE) through the Maine Department of Education. With this funding, Riverton undertook the challenge of the turnaround school model between 2010-2013, which resulted in positive change in academic achievement for their students and an improved teaching and learning climate and culture. This dissertation examines why the turnaround model may work, what is currently known about SIG funded turnaround schools, and what the specific actions and changes that led to the successful turnaround of this school were. While Riverton followed the turnaround model with fidelity and maintained a clear, singular focus on the academic goal of English Language and Literacy Acquisition, they employed changes above the model that facilitated improvement in teaching practice, resulting in impressive gains in student achievement on standardized tests. With the change in academic trajectory came a change in the teaching and learning culture at Riverton School, which may support a long-term, sustainable change. Sustainability is further explored through discussing the funding sources of many of the changes and plans made by local leadership to continue the success of the program when the SIG funding expired. Finally, I explore the potential long-term economic effect of the improved literacy achieved by students as a result of this intervention in terms of savings to society, which may be quite large. As the population of Riverton School is typical of many urban schools, with many recent immigrants to this country, this SIG likely made a large difference in the lives of the students at Riverton.