Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education


Leadership and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Douglas R. Davis

Second Advisor

Ryan Niemeyer

Third Advisor

John Holleman

Relational Format



The problem of high school dropout impacts all sectors of American society. The country's minority youth and its poorest residents are most at-risk of dropping out of school (apa, 2012). Bradshaw, O'Brennan, and McNeely (2008) note hispanic and black youths have a higher percentage of dropout events (22% and 11% respectively) compared to 6% of white youth. In order to create a bridge of support for underperforming at-risk students to stay in school, four preparatory academies were instituted in the district under study in 2009. A preparatory academy was placed in each region of this district: northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast. The schools were designed to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of students using methods research indicate will contribute to at-risk youth staying in school and completing their education. The purpose of this research was to gauge the effectiveness of preparatory academies in providing the intended enhanced academic and social support; and increasing graduation rate. This study utilized the tripod student perception survey for secondary students to determine if there was a statistically significant difference between students' perceptions of teacher effectiveness, safety, social support, academic support, and the graduation rate in the four academies, and four traditional high schools serving students with similar socioeconomic status (SES) demographics in the same district. The tripod student perception survey (TSPS) measures student perceptions of key dimensions of classroom life and teaching practices as student experience them (Ramsdell, 2012). Results shothe traditional high school students rated perceptions higher for school climate characteristics of teacher effectiveness, safety, social support, and academic support; and experienced a higher graduation rate than students attending the preparatory academies. Although the preparatory academies students' mean scores for each dependent variable were statistically significantly lower than the traditional students' mean scores, each variable had a positive student mean response rate. The preparatory academies seem to hold promise as an intervention program designed to meet the academic, social, and safety needs of at-risk students.


Emphasis: Educational Leadership (K-12)

Included in

Education Commons



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