Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Kathryn K. Franklin

Committee Members

James H. Lampley, Harold Lee Daniels, Glenn Bettis


The purpose of this study was to explore the characteristics of school culture that influenced college-going rates for high school graduates in northeast Tennessee. The study involved one-toone interviews with selected high school teachers and principals. Six high schools in northeast Tennessee were used in the study.

The significance of this study was to generate a grounded theory that could be used to explain the characteristics of school cultures that were effective in supporting students' college-going rates. This knowledge could be used to inform high school principals, school boards, state legislatures and other government bodies, and colleges and universities.

Findings in this study indicated that effective schools needed to establish a school culture that exhibited 5 major characteristics. These major characteristics helped schools improve students' performance, they helped improve students attendance rate and reduced students' drop-out rate, and they improved student college-going rate. The 5 characteristics were: (a) communicating high expectations to all stakeholders, (b) building a strong learning community, (c) promoting positive partnership with parents in the education of their children, (d) establishing partnership with local industries, colleges, and universities, and (e) focusing on students' ownership of their learning, students' performance, and students' continuation to higher education.

The conclusion made from this study was that communicating high expectations for stakeholders needed to be combined with support for stakeholders, especially for teachers and students, in order to maximize their potential to achieve high goals. Successful schools also needed to establish knowledge base for a community of learners. The learning community would encompass those areas that made the most impact on students' learning. These were: (1) knowledge supporting growth for the corporate faculty, (2) knowledge supporting growth and orientation of new teachers, and (3) knowledge supporting positive partnership with parents in the education of their children. Parental involvement in the education of their children played a major role in improving students' attendance rate; reducing the drop-out rate, and supporting students' college-going rates.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.