Students' Perceptions of the Preparatory Academy, A Dropout Prevention Program
Gibson, Jr., William Elijah
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The Preparatory Academy was established in September, 1999 to improve academic achievement and reduce the dropout rate of at-risk high school students in a mid-Atlantic state. The study looks at the Preparatory Academy as a dropout prevention program for high school students. Students attending the Preparatory Academy are one or more years behind grade level and have not been successful in a general education setting. In addition, the students are identified by the school division as being at-risk of not graduating from high school. The Preparatory Academy was designed to address the increasing drop out rate and to advance students one or two grade levels in one school year, whereby giving them an opportunity to reach their age appropriate grade. A qualitative design methodology was chosen to evaluate the Preparatory Academy effectiveness from the eyes of the students who were successful in the program. Eight participants who successfully completed the Academy during the 2004-2005 academic year were selected from each participating high school. Students participated in focus groups and answered questions about their experiences, their beliefs, and their perceptions while in the Preparatory Academy. Seven staff members, three administrators, two teachers, and two guidance counselors, were interviewed to clarify Academy procedures and policies. The results of this study show that the Preparatory Academy is perceived by students to be an effective dropout prevention program. Students reported an increased commitment to graduation from high school and reported an increase in grade point average. In addition, data revealed students having a positive change in their attitude toward themselves and their education. When asked about the reason, the students gave credit to the Preparatory Academy.
- Doctoral Dissertations