First Advisor

M. Carrol Tama

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Administration


Educational Leadership and Policy




High school dropouts -- Washington (State), High school principals -- Washington (State)



Physical Description

4, xii, 149 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


This study examined what Washington high school principals perceive to be the most effective dropout prevention policies and programs. The population included all public high schools in the State of Washington. Five questions were posed: 1. (a) What preventative measures, intervention programs or student services designed to enhance environmental and personal factors are perceived to have reduced dropout rates? (b) Does the availability of those services and programs account for a significant difference in the actual dropout rates? 2. (a) What personal/psychological factors characterize potential dropouts? (b) Do these identifying characteristics account for a significant variance in the actual dropout rates? 3. (a) What environmental factors influence dropout rates in the schools? (b) Do these factors account for a significant variance in the actual dropout rates? 4. What intervention programs or student services are available in the sample? 5. What demographic factors in the sample schools significantly affect dropout rates? The study incorporated both quantitative and qualitative methodology. Ninety six questionnaires were returned for a response rate of 64 percent. The survey gathered information about each school's demographics, opinions about potential dropouts' identifying characteristics, opinions about the school environment availability of services and programs in each building and district, and which programs they felt to be the most effective, ranking the top ten from a list of twenty possible programs, policies, or services. Six schools were visited and their principals were interviewed to get additional information about their programs and effectiveness. Data was statistically analyzed using ANOVA, multiple regression, and paired comparisons. The policies, services, and programs felt to be most effective were: In-house progressive discipline, vocational programs, a written building attendance policy, out-of-building alternative programs, cooperative work programs, freshman bonding programs, small group advisories, in-building alternative programs, a written district attendance policy, a required life skills class, honors courses, and alcohol/drug-related programs. Available programs accounting for a variance in actual dropout rates were: Monetary incentives, child care facilities, English taught as a second language, honors courses, and parent effectiveness programs. Identified personal characteristics accounting for a variance in actual dropout rates were: Working full-time, low self-esteem, parents' background, low grades, teen pregnancy, and being of a racial minority. Environmental factors accounting for a variance in actual dropout rates were: High parent and community involvement with the school, self-esteem classes and small-group advisories, and the Excellence reform. Demographic factors accounting for a variance in actual dropout rates were: economic stability, gender of principal, and use of free school lunch. The research suggests that those programs and practices accounting for a variance in actual dropout rates should be examined for their interaction of involved factors. If the discussed personal and environmental factors are present, those effective interactive practices should be implemented in order to reduce dropout rates.


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