First Advisor

Deborah Peterson

Term of Graduation

Winter 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

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


Educational Leadership and Policy




Educational accountability, High school principals -- Oregon, Alternative schools -- Oregon -- Evaluation, High schools -- Oregon -- Evaluation, High school dropouts -- Oregon -- Statistics, Minorities -- Education (Secondary), Alternative education, United States. Every Student Succeeds Act



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 175 pages)


Alternative high schools in the United States perform a significant role for students who drop out, are pushed out, or fall out of conventional high schools. An essential function of alternative high schools is to support some of the most underserved students in the country to graduate from high school. High school graduation is a major factor associated with higher incomes, better health, longer life expectancy, and less involvement in the criminal justice system. It also positively impacts local, state, and national economies. Despite these positive impacts, many alternative high schools are stigmatized as low-performing and even "drop-out factories" by state and local governing bodies and the media. The Every Student Succeeds Act (2015) requires that all public schools reach a 4-year cohort graduation rate of 67% or higher, but 75% of alternative high schools nationally do not meet this threshold, and only two alternative high schools in one Pacific Northwest state have met this level since the Every Student Succeeds Act became the law. While there are likely many reasons for this, some scholars assert that this is a function of conventional high schools "discharging" their potential non-graduating students into alternative schools in an effort to boost their own graduation rates. Using critical pedagogy as a framework to interrogate the legacy of rational systems theory thinking and Taylorism on public schooling, this basic qualitative study explores the experiences of principals of alternative high schools with relatively high percentages of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students with state accountability systems. Qualitative interviewing and document analysis were the primary methods used. Results confirm much of the research literature, but also point to a potential solution of local, shared accountability.


© 2021 Lorna Kay Fast Buffalo Horse

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