Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Pauline Stonehouse


This study analyzed the perceptions of North Dakota Regional Education Association (REA) directors and a sample of public school district superintendents regarding their REAs’ delivery of educational services to North Dakota school districts. Qualitative research methods were used, relying primarily on interview data to review, analyze, and compare perceptions of REA directors and school superintendents. The research questions of this study were:

1. How do REA directors perceive the effectiveness and efficiency of REAs?

2. How do school superintendents perceive the effectiveness and efficiency of REAs?

3. What are the commonalities, similarities, and differences of REA director and superintendent perceptions of the effectiveness and efficiency of REAs?

Since their inception in 2001, REAs have evolved into an integral part of North Dakota’s educational system. The majority of North Dakota school districts are members of an REA and are recipients of at least one REA service. This study sought perceptions from REA directors and a sample of North Dakota school superintendents. The perception data collected for this study indicated a generally positive view of REAs by all participants. Participants also perceived there to be issues that may have been impeding the improvement of REAs and their ability to grow as viable educational service providers in North Dakota.

Three thematic findings emerged from analysis of participant interview data. These were: (a) Professional development is perceived as a primary function of REAs, (b) REAs are leadership fragile, and (c) REAs operate in an unstable funding environment. Additionally, a grounded theory central phenomenon – Each REA is a unique and highly autonomous entity – emerged from the findings. Consequences associated with the central phenomenon were: (a) The impact of REAs varies by region; (b) REAs compete for resources; and (c) There are differences in the kind, intensity, and quality of services delivered by each REA.

Findings of this study will be of interest to scholars in the fields of educational policy making, implementation, and organization theory, to practitioners in state and local education agencies that have contact with REAs, and to REA directors and school superintendents.