School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Barry Dotson


college and career readiness, Career and Technical Education, rural, post-secondary education, distributed leadership, social learning theory, high school


Educational Leadership


The purpose of this applied study was to solve the problem of a lack of post-secondary college and career awareness and readiness among students in a rural Career and Technical Education (CTE) center in Northern Virginia and to formulate a solution to address the problem. The central research question was “How can the problem of a lack of post-secondary college and career readiness (CCR) and awareness among students be solved at a rural CTE Center in Northern Virginia?” The researcher used a multimethod design consisting of both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The first approach was semi-structured interviews using open-ended questions with administrators. The second approach was a focus group consisting of business leaders. The third approach was a closed-ended survey with CTE students. The researcher used an inductive thematic analysis approach to analyze the interviews and six stages of analysis was used: orientation to the data, identification of themes, examining the themes, formulating and assignment of themes, and composing the results (Braun and Clarke, 2013). Five themes emerged from the coded interviews with administrators and four themes emerged from the interview of a focus group. A CTE student survey was conducted, data was analyzed to generate descriptive statistics of minimum, maximum, mean and standard deviation. Descriptive statistics aided in the development of a solution to the problem of a lack of CCR and awareness. Universal themes that emerged were students’ lack of soft skills, the need for students to be CCR when they graduate, the necessity for parents to be involved in CCR and awareness, a demand for increased partnerships between schools and businesses, and the need to integrate academics and CTE to provide application and context. These themes align with prior empirical research data.