Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Jack McKay


This study explored the benefits and limitations of combining Total Quality Education (TQE) and strategic planning in public school districts and the degree to which quality is clarified by the district. This was an exploratory multiple-case study and was conducted because (a) little research exists on either of these practices and even less on the combined approach, (b) the combined approach has not been studied in K-12 public schooling, (c) the combined approach can provide a systemic model which has implications for achieving significant changes in education, and (d) school districts need quality improvement models that are suitable in meeting the needs of the public. Data was collected through interviews with superintendents and administrators, and in focus groups of staff and community members, at three school districts. The three districts were selected because of engagement in both TQE and strategic planning, and had similar demographics. Questions focused on conceptions of quality, the implementation and benefits of each, and the benefits and limitations of combining these two approaches. Documents and direct observations were analyzed to validate and add to the interview data. Qualitative data analysis was used. The findings indicated that the two practices were complimentary when combined and added value to the school district. There were some conflicts that need to be considered. Many of the limitations stated were the same that are cited when any organizational change is implemented. The findings also indicated that attention to defining and conceptualizing quality is important for successful implementation of TQE and strategic planning. Questions are provided for consideration by practitioners interested in combining TQE and strategic planning. Seven areas are identified which are deserving of additional research. Further, the study presents a conceptual framework for future research. In summary, an integrated approach of TQE and strategic planning has the potential to result in a change model that improves the success of discovering, creating, and providing increased value in public education. Attention to quality conceptions and awareness of possible points of conflict help to maximize the benefits and to minimize the limitations derived from the combined approach.


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College in the University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education. Copyright 1997 Susan J. Hallstrom Evanich.

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