Michele Critelli

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Johnson, Ane


Education; Secondary; Rhetoric; Academic achievement


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


With the many reforms and initiatives regarding college readiness, understanding how organizations use rhetoric to determine and define what college readiness is and what it looks like can either reinforce dominant institutional structures and practices, or create new definitions and understanding leading to institutional change. Through a rhetorical framework (Alvesson, 1993), members of an organization are not only conformists but also strategic agents who through the use of rhetoric construct and shape knowledge and institutional life. A case study was conducted of one secondary high school that included administrators and teachers who work within the context of college readiness. Through the lens of institutional theory this study used interviews, focus groups, and material culture to explore how an organizations understanding and interpretation guide the activities within the organization coupled with the internal and external expectations to conform to the norms placed on them by the policy environment and the need to maintain legitimacy in light of increased scrutiny. Findings demonstrate how institutional expectations guide the behavior and actions of this secondary school and how organizational rhetoric is used to construct the appearance of what it means to be college ready in an effort to conform to the expectations and norms of the institutional environment.