School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Beth Ackerman


alternative school, Christian Education, expulsion, nested case study, social cognitive, suspension




The purpose of this case study was to understand the decisions and life choices of students who attended East Coast Christian Alternative School (ECCAS; pseudonym). An alternative school is generally defined as a school set aside for students who are at-risk of failing (Foley & Pang, 2006). ECCAS is a Christian educational setting designed to accommodate educational, behavioral, spiritual, and medical needs of students which cannot be addressed in a traditional school setting as prescribed by local and school officials which includes the participants of the study. The theories guiding this study are Bronfenbrenner’s (1994) ecological systems theory in that a child’s development is based on a system of layers with their environment and the social cognitive theory by Bandura (2001) as it pertains to keeping the student in a social and educational atmosphere rather than removing the student entirely from a school setting. The school’s population ranges from 7 to 15 students per semester and includes both genders. The grade level ranges from middle school to twelfth grade. A criterion sample was selected, and the information gleaned represents themes from five nested studies of the participants based on synthesized information and themes from students, parents, teachers and administrators. The question guiding this case study is, how does a Christian alternative school influence the lives of students attending the program? Three areas of the student’s life were studied: spiritual, social, and academic. This information will be used to help future alternative schools. You will see in chapters four and five that a Christ-centered approach to education in the alternative school led to restoration and ultimately made a significant difference in the lives of each of the participants.

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