Term of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

James Green

Committee Member 1

Paul Brinson

Committee Member 2

Cordelia Zinskie



Educational leaders and district decision makers are faced with the challenge of providing support for at-risk students who are failing in traditional schools and are in danger of not graduating. Alternative schools are considered options for learning for at-risk students. However, limited research is available describing the views and experiences of the administrators who lead them. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative study was to understand leaders’ perceptions of characteristics of effective alternative schools in Georgia, as well as challenges associated with leading them. Ten face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted to investigate what eight male and two female alternative school leaders in Georgia perceived to be characteristics of effective alternative schools in Georgia. The results from this qualitative study define characteristics of alternative schools that contribute to student success, explain challenges incurred by the leaders and the students in alternative schools, and describe the benefits of alternative schools. Conclusions and recommendations are included for consideration by educational leaders and decision makers who are planning new alternative schools in their districts or seek to improve practices in existing alternative schools.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


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