Research on school reform highlights challenges school leaders face in implementing and sustaining reforms. While some efforts fade away, others are intentionally dismantled, or “undone” as schools revert back to their traditional model of schooling. Considering how often reforms fail to sustain, there is value in understanding why school leaders decide undo reforms, and how leaders support staff through the undoing process. Utilizing path-goal theory as a framework, this paper I examined the case of one elementary school principal who planned in this undoing of a competency-based reform she had previously championed. Analysis reveals that the shift back to a traditional approach to instruction was in response to changes in state policies and district resource allocations, and that the type of support the school leader provided to teachers during the undoing was strongly influenced by the characteristics of the each stage of the process.


Path-Goal Theory, School Leadership, School Reform, Semi-Structured Interview, Thematic Analysis

Author Bio(s)

Jennifer Karnopp is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Education Leadership and Policy Studies in the School of Education at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: jkarnopp@indiana.edu.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.