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Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Russell O. Mays

Committee Members

Nancy Dishner, Norma MacRae, Russell F. West


As a form of high school dropout intervention, many Tennessee school systems implement GED Plus Two Programs to provide opportunities for equivalency credentialing. With recent research related to the impact of equivalency credentialing in mind, exploration of the school and student characteristics and conditions that lead to nontraditional school enrollment appeared to be essential to future intervention and prevention program development.

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the perception of young people about the reasons they left the traditional secondary school program in a rural school system in East Tennessee to pursue successful completion of the GED Test while enrolled in a school sponsored GED Plus Two Program. Data were collected through a series of interviews with students, teachers, and administrators. Interviews were recorded and tapes of the interviews were transcribed. Using interpretive analysis, data were examined to determine themes and patterns. Descriptive information about participants was collected from the attendance and scholarship records of students and reported as part of the analysis. Findings were presented for each theme within the context of reviewed literature. Each student presented a unique set of problems and issues within the interview process.

A strong placement experience, individualized instruction, supportive and nurturing relationships between students/teachers/administrators, and positive interaction between students were viewed by all categories of participants as important to a successful secondary school experience. Academic difficulties, relationship conflicts, teenage parenthood, chronic truancy, a history of discipline problems and juvenile delinquency, and a family background characterized by financial difficulties and divorce were linked to the decision to exit the traditional secondary school program. The value of program alternatives was emphasized.

An examination of practices in elementary and secondary schools to ensure that students experiencing a lack of academic success or disciplinary problems be identified in a timely fashion was recommended. Specific recommendations for changes to current practice included the implementation of productive placement processes such as comprehensive student assessment, the provision of program alternatives, and responsiveness to the unique needs of young parents. The need for additional quantitative and qualitative research was also suggested.

Document Type

Dissertation - restricted


Copyright by the authors.