Date of Award

Summer 6-22-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies

Department

Leadership Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Sally Selden

Committee Member

Dr. John Walker

Committee Member

Dr. Rob Arnold

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships between different variables and whether a student attained an on-time graduation outcome. A retrospective cohort study was conducted within a single school division in central Virginia serving a population of 8,338 students. The organizational structure of the school division was unique as it is comprised of two combined schools and two high schools fed by a separate middle school.

The study utilized logistic regression and ROC analysis to identify the variables most predictive of graduation for use in an EWS. The model was designed to be predictive in nature and included variables identified in the literature to predict academic and graduation outcomes.

Six research questions were addressed in this study: What variables should be included in an EWS implemented within the setting of study? While optimizing sensitivity and specificity, what are the optimal cut-points for the indicators selected for use in the EWS? How does the six-year on-time graduation rate compare between students identified as on-track to that of students flagged as off-track in the sixth grade? How does the six-year on-time graduation rate compare between students identified as on-track to that of students flagged as off-track in the sixth grade? How does the four-year on-time graduation rate compare between students identified as on-track to that of students flagged as off-track in the ninth grade? To what degree is on-track status related at the sixth and ninth-grade transition years? What impact do normative transitions have on the prevalence of off-track status?

At the middle and high school levels, indicators related to attendance, behavior, and course outcomes were identified as predictive of graduation outcomes. This study identified indicators related to course outcomes/academic performance as the most powerful predictors of students not graduating on time. Correlation analysis identified off-track status in the ninth grade as having a stronger relation to not graduating on time than off track status in the sixth grade (r(506) = .370, p < .001 compared to r(506) = .301, p < .001). Additionally, this study identified that the number of normative transitions a student experienced was not significant in the frequency in which students acquire off-track status in the ninth grade, x2(1, N = 506) = .978, p = .323.