Understanding why adult learners dropout of a high school diploma program a second time

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Pepper, Bradly M.
Freeman, Eric
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Increasing attention paid to the high school dropout situation since the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) (2000) has brought about concerns (United States Department of Education, 2002a). In an attempt to bring greater clarity to the complicated issues surrounding school dropouts, I explored several under-researched aspects relating to dropping out of high school, such as adults returning to a high school diploma program and the non-monetary benefits of obtaining a high school diploma. According to Harris and Ganzglass (2008), 39% of adult learners across the nation voluntarily return to an adult alternative program to work on their regular high school diploma. Of these adult students who return, why are only 30% actually completing the program? This study employed a qualitative interpretivist research design to attain an understanding of why adults dropped out of a virtual high school diploma program a second time. I conducted semi-structured interviews with 10 adults who had dropped out of high school for a second time, which provided these participants a voice, free to share his or her thoughts and feelings about past social exchanges through his or her own words. It became clear as a result of my data that no single reason fully explained why a particular study participant chose to drop out. Rather, one or more reasons occurred in tandem and it was this confluence of factors that created a sufficiently compelling set of circumstances that prompted each participant to exit the program. Implications from the research stress that additional research could be conducted in the areas of student connectedness, staff and administrators perceptions of why they feel certain students are not being successful in their school, and wraparound services for at-risk students and their families.

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Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Education and School Psychology
Wichita State University
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