Date of Award

Fall 10-19-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Hayward Richardson

Second Advisor

Dr. Jami Berry

Third Advisor

Dr. Carlos McCray

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Janice Fournillier

Abstract

This study aimed to explore the effectiveness of graduation coach services in reducing student risk factors for dropping out of high school and increasing student academic performance, a strong correlate of student persistence to high school graduation (Battin-Pearson et al., 2000). The study employed a quasiexperimental nonequivalent control group design utilizing student risk ratio and individualized Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT) scores in English/language arts and mathematics as measures to compare students who received the services of a graduation coach to those who did not. The sample for this study included 39,326 Georgia students continuously enrolled in the 11th grade during the 2008 – 2009 school year and characterized as at risk for high school noncompletion by virtue of possessing a student risk ratio greater than zero. Of these students, 9,076 (23.08%) were selected as caseload students to receive the intervention and support services of a graduation coach (GaDOE, 2009c). To assess the differential effects of graduation coach services on student risk ratio across school improvement regions, gender, and ethnicity, the researcher conducted a series of general linear model (GLM) multivariate repeated measures analyses. Risk ratios for students served by a graduation coach were found to be significantly lower in May 2009 than in August 2008. Differences in student risk ratios existed regionally across the state regardless of graduation coach caseload status. While analyses related to the differential effects of graduation coach service provision revealed no significant difference in the student risk ratio metric according to gender, they did reflect a significant difference in the student risk ratio metric according to graduation coach caseload status and ethnicity. Regression analyses determined that student risk ratio may account for 12.5 percent of the variance in student GHSGT mathematics scores and 9.6 percent of the variance in student GHSGT English/language arts scores for first-time 11th graders. Adding student caseload status into the equation increases the variance accounted for to 12.9 percent in mathematics and 10.4 percent in English/language arts.

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