Term of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

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

Daniel Calhoun

Committee Member 1

Meca Williams-Johnson

Committee Member 2

Samuel Hardy


In the United States today, students are leaving high school without earning a diploma at an alarming rate. Student attrition is an area of concern for school districts all over the county, and has led to the development of dropout prevention strategies both nationwide and within each state. This issue is especially problematic for rural school districts, where resources can be in short supply.

Performance Learning Centers (PLC) were created by the Communities in Schools (CIS) Organization to help districts retain their at-risk student population. The PLCs are operated using the CIS Model which utilizes community resources to meet students’ social and academic needs in an effort to help them achieve academically. The purpose of this study was to explore the influence the CIS Model had on at-risk students in a rural PLC in Georgia as perceived by the teachers and administrator at the site.

Using a descriptive case study, data was collected at one rural PLC in Georgia. Criterion sampling led to the selection of three participants for this study. Each participant took part in a semi-structured interview as well as a focus group. An analysis of the findings led to the emergence of three themes: Close-knit Group Yields Better Results, Different is Not Deficient, and Setting Parameters for High Expectations. Results indicated that the participants perceived that the CIS Model is effective and helped retention efforts due to the flexibility and options it provided the at-risk students at the PLC. Implications for leaders within the rural school district, the CIS organization, and the state of Georgia are included, as well as recommendations for future research.

Research Data and Supplementary Material