Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

James H. Lampley

Committee Members

Aimee Govett, Louise L. MacKay, Pamela H. Scott


The purpose of the study was to identify which factors are most closely related to academic success during the freshman year for low socioeconomic students in one urban high school. This was an ex post facto study conducted in one urban high school in East Tennessee. The subjects were students enrolled in the 9th grade during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 academic school years. Low socioeconomic students were divided into 2 groups based on academic performance during their freshman year of high school. Students with GPAs of 2.5 or higher were classified as higher performing, low socioeconomic status (HLSES). Students with GPAs of 2.4 or lower were considered lower performing, low socioeconomic status (LLSES). The higher achieving group contained 85 students; the lower achieving group had 292 students. Relationships between 9 predictor variables (ethnicity, gender, involvement in extra curricular activities, scores on 7th grade TCAP reading-language arts and mathematics tests, number of out of school suspension days, literacy scores, mobility rates, and attendance) were examined across the 2 groups. Chi-square tests were conducted to compare the 2 groups with regard to involvement in extracurricular activities, gender, and ethnicity. All remaining quantitative predictor variables were compared using independent t tests. Two sets of multiple regressions were conducted, 1 for the higher performing group and 1 for the lower performing group, to determine which of the predictor variables had the strongest relationship to students' GPAs. From the higher performing group, 10 students were interviewed to uncover the factors they credited as having the biggest impact on their academic success during their freshman year.

Significance was found for 8 of the 9 predictor variables. Student mobility was the only non-significant factor between the groups. None of the variables had a significant relationship to the higher performing groups' GPA. Four variables, gender, number of suspension days, number of days absent, and involvement in extracurricular activities were significantly related to students' GPA in the lower performing group. Self-discipline, determination, and guidance from an adult to help them stay focused were the main factors cited for academic success by students during their freshman year.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.