School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Mark A. Lamport


alternative school, cohort graduation rate, dropout, high-stakes testing


Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology | Other Education


There are many paths to high school graduation. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has driven schools to be creative in seeking strategies by which students successfully earn their high¬¬¬¬ school diploma. In this non-experimental, causal-comparative study, a large Western North Carolina school district utilizes a minimum credit diploma to help students who previously experienced repeated academic failure achieve high school graduation by earning 21 course credits. The district requires traditional diploma-seeking students to earn seven additional credits to the 21 required by the State. Participants included high school graduates from the 2013-2014 school year. Both traditional and alternative diploma paths were studied to determine the impact of the alternative diploma on graduation rate of the traditional high school as well as the district. No significant difference was noted in the individual high school’s reported graduation rate and graduation rate without the alternative diploma program, suggesting that the alternative diploma pathway may not have an effect on the overall graduation rate at the individual high school level. However, the study indicated a significant difference in End of Course scores for alternative diploma and traditional diploma students, suggesting that End of Course test performance has an effect on diploma pathway. The study also indicated a significant difference in reported graduation rates and graduation rate without the use of the alternative diploma program, suggesting that the alternative diploma program has an effect on the district’s overall graduation rate.