Mixed Methods Case Study of Consolidation Effects on a Rural Maryland School

Author/Creator ORCID




Department of Educational Professions


Doctor of Education, Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

Citation of Original Publication


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School consolidation is a controversial and difficult process throughout the United States that will continue well into the future as buildings age, populations shift, and finances dwindle. Therefore, any data that offers a clearer understanding of the change process and overall effects of school consolidation can hold promise to ensure the most positive outcomes for all stakeholders. The purpose of this study was to provide data and information related to the impact and acceptance of a rural school consolidation on students, teachers, and community members. This mixed methods case study focused on a specific school consolidation involving two small, rural high schools in Maryland in order to determine the process used in this situation in comparison to components of a change theory as well as to understand the effects of the consolidation on various stakeholders. Through use of surveys, interviews, document reviews, and observations, qualitative data were gathered and analyzed to determine how the process of the consolidation was conducted as well as the impacts of consolidation on students, teachers, and community members. This data was then viewed through the lens of change theory. In addition, quantitative data of five years of state assessment proficiency rates from each closing high school and the new high school were tested with a Welch's t-test and analyzed to determine consolidation effects on student achievement. The data analyzed indicated statistically significant findings. Results show that leadership in promoting components of change theory, such as strategy, purpose and alteration of behavior patterns as well as shared diagnosis and mutual engagement, is necessary when consolidating rural schools. Furthermore, the results indicate that concordant communities and a positive learning environment are possible outcomes in a school consolidation.