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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding student engagement: Insights from an all-girls urban neighborhood public high school
by Curci, Juliet DiLeo, Ph.D., Temple University, 2011, 314; 3477753
Abstract (Summary)

Students in a large mid-Atlantic city graduate from the public district high schools at an average annual rate of fifty-six percent. This low rate of high school completion predicts future financial and social instability for not only those individuals who drop out of school, but also for their surrounding community. The research on dropouts highlights the significance that students' low levels of academic and social engagement in school have on their decisions to leave school. Advocates for single-sex education argue that students engage and achieve at high levels when learning in this educational model. According to the current literature, students' success in single-sex schools is primarily a result of the proacademic choice that they and their guardians make when electing to attend a single-sex school. Through focus groups, interviews, and observations, this study explores what student engagement looks like at an all-girls urban neighborhood public high school that is non-selective and where the proacademic choice of students is not a factor. With new federal policy measures advocating innovation in public education, single-sex schools - historically inaccessible to minority students from low-income communities - are finding a foothold in urban public school systems across the country. This study aims to illuminate the extent to which a single-sex school serves as a "site of transformation" for young women of color from a low-income neighborhood. The realization of the school's mission, to interrupt the social reproduction of the neighborhood through the education of its young women, depends on its students' graduation from high school and their access to and success through college. Data related to various features of the school are analyzed to highlight how student engagement is promoted and inhibited at the school and ultimately results in transformative and/or reproductive educational experiences for students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Horvat, Erin McNamara
Commitee: Jordan, Will, McGuire, C. Kent, Schifter, Catherine, Woyshner, Christine
School: Temple University
Department: Urban Education
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 73/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational sociology, Education Policy, Secondary education
Keywords: All-girls education, College-prep, Engagement, Single-sex education, Social reproduction, Student engagement, Urban education
Publication Number: 3477753
ISBN: 978-1-124-94634-4
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