This in-depth investigation explored the experiences of high school non-completers who experienced poverty while attending a small, rural school district in the Mid-Atlantic region. This high school implemented a comprehensive character development program to reach students at a deeper level and build the students’ feelings of school connectedness. There exists a lack of studies on school connectedness in the rural setting. The extant literature also lacks actionable recommendations on improving school connectedness.
The purpose of this study was to understand why students chose to withdraw from high school before graduation despite attending a setting with a school-wide character development program that contributed to high rates of connectedness. An analysis of in-depth interviews conducted with students who withdrew from high school prior to graduation was the basis of this qualitative study. The results of the qualitative analysis revealed two key themes: (1) supportive people and activities contributed to the participants’ feelings of connectedness; and (2) barriers to connectedness and overall success in school were caused by factors outside the school environment, including adverse childhood experiences.
For all of the participants, the reasons for withdrawing high school were only tangentially related to the lack of a feeling of connectedness. The participants viewed their reasons for withdrawing from high school as deeply personal and individualistic. Based on the emergent themes, the researcher concluded that there were insufficient supports and programs in place to overcome the adverse childhood experiences and traumas that the participants endured and consequently they dropped out of high school. Several implications for practice from this study included improving professional development of school staff, implementing strategies to remediate the impact of adverse childhood experiences, and expanding school-based programs in the areas of mental health and drug prevention.
|Commitee:||Bateman, David, Gaudino, Ann|
|Department:||Educational Leadership and Special Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Education, Developmental psychology, Secondary education|
|Keywords:||Adverse childhood experiences, Character development, Connectedness, Poverty, Rural schools|
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