Term of Award

Spring 2008

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Barbara Mallory

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Charles Reavis

Abstract

The purpose of this study has been to understand how one Georgia Performance Learning Center helps students succeed. Performance Learning Centers are nontraditional high schools created by Communities in Schools in partnership with local school boards to serve students at risk of dropping out of school. Although started in Georgia in only 2003, the Performance Learning Centers have already resulted in student improvement as evidenced by their growth from only seven centers in the first year to 29 centers by 2007 and by their student performance reports. The perceptions of the administrator, staff, teachers, and students at one Performance Learning Center that had opened in 2005 informed this researcher of successful practices at the center. Multiple observations of the participating centers operations and classroom interactions were conducted. Interviews were conducted with the Administrator, Vice-Principal, Service Coordinator, Counselor, all five teachers, and 12 students. The Performance Learning Center implemented the seven major school improvement strategies identified in the literature, including additional instruction and monitoring in core academic areas; future job skill training; instruction on study skills, test taking skills, and time management; modification to the learning environment; student counseling for academic and personal issues; participation in community service projects; and increased parental involvement. The research identified themes of student progress, flexibility, individual student attention, relationships, preparation for lifelong learning, and community as contributing to student success at the Performance Learning Center. The school improvement strategies employed at the Performance Learning Center can be implemented in other educational environments to address specific student needs. State policy makers and educators can look at the Performance Learning Centers as a successful program worthy of emulation.

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