The High School Success Classroom : a case study of student outcomes and factors that contribute to student persistence

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Aron Ravon Gabriel (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Meagan Karvonen

Abstract: The detrimental effects of dropping out of high school are well established in the literature. Programs specifically designed to address the needs of at-risk high school are a targeted intervention to lower the dropout rate. One such program is the High School Success Classroom (HSSC), a self-contained classroom on the campus of Pressly School in North Carolina. Pressly School is an alternative school serving students in grades Kindergarten through 12. The HSSC uses the Teaching Family Model (TFM) of interaction, which emphasizes clear communication and mutual respect. The primary mode of instructional delivery is computer-based learning. The theoretical framework that was utilized in this study is Wehlage’s (1989) theory of School Membership (SM), which is grounded in four concepts explained by Tinto (1975): adjustment, difficulty, incongruence, and isolation. One purpose of this case study was to determine the effect of the HSSC at Pressly School on the graduates. Quantitative data describe how the HSSC affected the outcomes of its students in comparison with students who did not attend the HSSC. Students within the HSSC were paired for the purpose of comparison with students who were not in the HSSC but who also entered high school during the 2005-2006 school year. HSSC and non-HSSC students were paired based on the following factors: socioeconomic status, eighth grade reading end of grade (EOG) test scale score as a measure of student achievement, ethnicity, and gender. The groups were compared with each other based on the following factors: absenteeism, graduation status, and post-graduate intentions. On average, HSSC students were absent 9 more days than non-HSSC students during the 2009-2010 school year. HSSC students and non-HSSC had the same graduation rate (98%). HSSC students tended to select employment as their most likely post-graduate intention while the non-HSSC students selected Community/Technical College most frequently. Another purpose of this study was to evaluate how the HSSC assists students in persisting through graduation. Pressly School HSSC staff and graduates participated in interviews to describe the factors that led to students’ successful completion of high school. The intertwining factors of the HSSC program, the nurturing influence of the HSSC staff, and the personal characteristics of the graduates were key in the persistence through graduation. The implications for professional practice include school staff members using findings from the study to meet the needs of marginalized students and the creation of a new track of student in the graduate-dropout continuum: the state-required credit earning graduate. The suggestions for future research include setting up focus group interviews for HSSC graduates on the day of graduation as well as a longitudinal follow-up study to determine the status of HSSC graduates years after they have graduated.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Alternative Education, Dropout, High School, Interventions, Non-Traditional
Dropouts -- Prevention -- Case studies
Pressly school (Statesville, N.C.). -- High School Success Classroom
High school dropouts -- Case studies

Email this document to