Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Stephen Sherblom

Second Advisor

Dr. Robyne Elder

Third Advisor

Dr. Roger "Mitch" Nasser


School districts in the state of Missouri are required to provide an education to all students, including those on suspension, and many other states have similar requirements. The number of alternative programs has grown over the last 50 years, and most districts provide some type of alternative program for at-risk students. With few state regulations for evaluation of these programs, researchers in alternative education recommended districts perform internal evaluations to ensure program quality. The research identified six research-based best practices domains critical to the success of an alternative program. The six domains were curriculum, assessment, engagement, instruction, leadership, and structures. This mixed methods study identified Type I, Type II, and Type III program characteristics, compared location performance in the six best practices domains, and analyzed data to explore a relationship between district data and performance in the best practices domains. The study used two surveys and written responses from alternative program certified and non-certified staff to compare data at three alternative program locations in the mid-Missouri region. A program characteristics survey identified Type I, II, and III characteristics and two themes emerged from the data. All three locations supported a Type II program, which focused on separation and isolation of at-risk students with behavior issues. All three programs were in development of a Type III program that offered counseling and interventions that supported at-risk students. A Likert scale survey identified performance in the best practices domains and gave participants the opportunity to include written responses pertaining to the six domains. Five themes emerged from the data: (a) lack of district support concerning curriculum, (b) iii inconsistency in assessment practices, (c) active engagement through teacher/student relationships, (d) supportive and responsive building leadership, and (e) lack of applicable professional development. Data from the Likert survey was used to perform analyses to determine if a relationship existed between district data and performance in the six domains. Analysis showed a significant relationship between district graduation rate, attendance rate, dropout rate, and the performance in the six domains of best practices. Further recommendations were then made for educational leaders in the area of alternative education.


Copyright 2019