First Advisor

William D. Greenfield

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

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


Educational Leadership and Policy




Underachievers -- Oregon -- Washington County, Dropouts -- Oregon -- Washington County



Physical Description

4, xii, 370 leaves 28 cm.


This study develops recommendations for school district administrators and policy makers regarding policies and programs for students at risk of school failure. The study develops a descriptive picture of policies and programs for at-risk students in Washington County school districts and evaluates those policies and programs against criteria for effective policies and programs in order to understand the degree to which such policies and programs implemented in Washington County school districts correspond to criteria associated with effective practices reported in the literature. The study identifies 23 such criteria and numerous indicators associated with each. Data collection, analysis and evaluation were guided by five research questions focusing on procedures used to identify at-risk students, policies and programs implemented to serve the needs of at-risk students, procedures used to evaluate at-risk students and programs, and the effectiveness of at-risk student programs and policies. D"",' were collected from the 13 Washington County school districts and other agencies using interview, document analysis, and survey techniques. Interviews were conducted with 11 school district administrators, 66 documents were examined, the 13 Washington County school district superintendents were surveyed, and 56 of 93 elementary, middle and high school principals completed and returned a 29 item survey. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and written descriptive summaries. The data were further analyzed by applying the program evaluation technique of comparison to a standard, using the criteria for effective policies and programs developed from the literature as standards. The results show nearly all schools and districts meet two of four criteria related to at-risk student identification. Identification practices vary from formal to informal. Most schools and districts meet both criteria related to the use of ineffective programs. Retention at grade level and diagnostic/prescriptive pullout programs are seldom used as an intervention with at-risk students. Most districts and schools meet one of four criteria regarding programs that prevent students becoming at risk. No district offers preschool programs. Few full-day kindergarten options are available. Tutorial reading programs are available at the primary grades in most schools. Three of 12 criteria regarding programs that serve identified at-risk students are met by nearly all schools and districts. A variety of classroom, schoolwide and alternative programs exist that partially meet criteria for effectiveness. Most programs serve secondary students. No district meets the criterion for supporting programs with written policy. Few policies specific to at-risk students or programs exist. In summary, nearly all Washington County schools and districts meet eight criteria for effective policies and programs for at-risk students. The remaining 15 criteria are either met by some schools and not others, partially met by some or all schools, or met by few or no schools at all. Other results show that little or no at-risk student or program evaluation occurs in most districts that administrators perceive resources for at-risk students and programs to be inadequate, and that coordination of at-risk programs both within and between schools and districts is varied and often minimal or lacking. Based upon these results, 52 specific recommendations are made to school districts administrators and policy makers.


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