Term of Award

Spring 2009

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Barbara Mallory

Committee Member 1

Sharon Brooks

Committee Member 2

Saba Jallow


The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between resilience and the academic achievement of at-risk students in the Upward Bound Program in Georgia. The researcher used a quantitative method to collect data for the study. The researcher used the Healthy Kids Survey (Module B) instrument to assess the resilience of participants; it had 33 items on it and the researcher added a demographic section to the survey to collect information about the participants' families, schools, GPAs, and SAT/ACT scores. All of the participants chosen for this study were at-risk students due to their status as low-income and potential first-generation-to attend college, high school seniors in the Upward Bound Program in both rural and urban communities in Georgia. There were 200 participants selected for this study and 91 chose to participate. The researcher found several interesting results. The researcher found that at-risk students in the Upward Bound Program in Georgia were highly resilient and that their resilience was positively related to their GPAs. Also, the females in the study were more resilient than the males and had higher GPAs. Furthermore, urban participants in the study were only slightly more resilient than their rural counterparts, and participants living with both parents were more resilient than students living with one parent. On other academic indicators such as the SAT and ACT, the study found that there was not a significant relationship between resilience and these college entrance tests. However, there were surprising findings related to the participants' performance on these tests. African American males scored quite high on the SAT. Also, urban students outperformed rural students on the SAT and participants living with both parents scored higher than those living with one parent. The researcher noted several conclusions from the study. An important conclusion was that the Upward Bound Program helps to build resilience and that resilience positively impacts the participants' GPAs. Maintaining good grades in school is a major factor in students staying in school and going to college; therefore, educators should promote fostering resilience for at-risk students, especially for African American males. Another conclusion was that rural students need more opportunities to participate in programs that foster resilience. Key factors of resilience programs are caring, and supportive adults, who are interested in the students, school work, and adults who have high expectations for the students. School leaders and educators should seek to create warm, supportive school climates and opportunities for all students to achieve. The implications for the study can be very useful to educators and educational leaders as well as for professionals who work in dropout prevention and pre-college programs in Georgia. Also, the findings in the study can serve as a basis for strengthening parental involvement and support from adult mentors for K-12 students. Ultimately, the findings should provide a basis for promoting resilience in all students, especially at-risk students due to poverty.