Term of Award

Fall 2009

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

Linda M. Arthur

Committee Member 1

Sonya S. Shepherd

Committee Member 2

Mary H. Jackson

Abstract

Since the passage of the federal legislation known as No Child Left Behind, school districts are under increasing pressure to decrease high school dropout rates and to increase high school graduation rates. There is a critical need for schools to develop and implement programs designed to maximize academic success for all high school students. The purpose of this present research was to investigate the perceptions of high school teachers and high school students about barriers to high school student academic success. For purposes of this study, high school academic success is defined as the completion of all high school diploma requirements within the usual four-year time span. Data for this study were obtained through individual face-to-face interviews with eight high school teachers and two focus group interviews of students. Data analysis focused on the identification of barriers to high school student academic success. Factors related to the following contexts emerged as recognizable academic success barriers: (a) the individual student, (b) the family, and (c) the educational institution. Teachers and students recognized high school student dropout risk factors to include low prior academic achievement, being over age for grade level, failure to accrue credits, and poor quality communications between the school and the home. The researcher concluded that both participant groups are aware of many academic success barriers. Study findings suggest that all stakeholders wishing to improve academic outcomes should become familiar with potential success barriers and take action to alleviate those amenable to change. Study data suggest that improved relationships among the following could potentially improve academic outcomes for students, and for at risk high school students, in particular: (a) teacher - student, (b) teacher - parent, (c) school - community. This study has policy and practice implications for public high schools and secondary school educators.

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