Title

Students' Perceptions of Alternative School Education

Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

First Advisor

Michael Ward

Advisor Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions held by students in two alternative school settings in urban settings in Mississippi and in two alternative school settings' in urban settings in Louisiana. The investigator focused on students' perceptions of student-centered school culture and school effectiveness. A study of students' attitudes and opinions about what makes them feel successful in an alternative school should contribute significantly to the field of educating and meeting the needs of at-risk students both academically and behaviorally. A multiple regression analysis was conducted in this research project to evaluate how well student-centered school cultural measures predicted perceived school effectiveness. The research question was stated as follows: Are alternative school student perceptions of school culture predictive of their perceptions of school effectiveness? The hypothesis was stated as follows: There is a statistically significant relationship between students' perceptions of student-centered school culture and their perceptions of school effectiveness among the four alternative schools represented in this study. The target population chosen as the study participants included all students in two alternative schools in Mississippi and two alternative schools in Louisiana. The variables chosen for this study were supported by the literature describing effective alternative schools. Each item was analyzed for accuracy. The data collected clearly showed a relationship between student perceptions of culture and student perceptions of school effectiveness. School culture factors that make a difference are safety, school size, expanded teacher role, positive relationships, academic innovation and supportive services. The partial correlation between the culture measure "academic innovation" and the students' perceptions of school effectiveness was significant. Results indicate that academic innovation was the most single important independent variable describing effective alternative schools. The study suggests the need for further inquiry in other areas of the school environment and over a larger study group, but the variables tested were relevant within the context of the hypothesis.