Date of Award

Fall 10-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Second Advisor

Dr. Danny Humble

Third Advisor

Dr. Nate Moore


This study was guided by Deci and Ryan’s (2015) self-determination theory, which focuses on meeting three specific psychological needs: autonomy, relatedness, and competence. The literature review for this study included topics relating to alternative education such as educational reform, school improvement, school climate, student discipline, intervention strategies, at-risk students, and the achievement gap. This study involved determining the effectiveness of alternative schools through a mixed-methods examination of graduation rates, school climate, student motivation, and academic rigor in high schools from the southwest Missouri region. Graduation rate data were compared from school districts without alternative schools and those with alternative schools utilizing a t-test. The mean of the graduation rates of districts with alternative schools was significantly higher than districts without alternative schools. Quantitative data collection continued via a survey designed to measure the degree to which high school principals report an improved school climate upon implementation of an alternative school. These data demonstrated an improved school climate within the traditional school due to the implementation of an alternative school. Qualitative data collection consisted of interviewing subject-area high school teachers and alternative school teachers from randomly selected school districts in southwest Missouri. These interviews were designed and conducted by the researcher to gather teacher perceptions of the degree of student motivation and academic rigor evident among alternative school students within their respective school districts. These data demonstrated increased student motivation with mixed results pertaining to academic rigor in alternative schools.


Copyright 2017