Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Doug Eury

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to perform a program evaluation of the Right Choices Program to determine the program's effectiveness in delivering constructive interventions that modify student behavior once students have left the program and have returned to their regular learning environment. This mixed-method evaluation consisted of an experimental-comparison design approach that included interviews with program participants, completing focus groups, and comparison of the number of out-of-school suspensions that participants received after completing the Right Choices Program.

The researcher and trained interviewers administered a survey to the 16 certified staff members working in the Right Choices Program including the executive director and the program coordinator. A stratified random proportionate sample was used to produce functionally equivalent groups from the NC WISE data for the out-of-school suspension comparison. This study then examined the benefits and limitations of the program based on teacher and staff perceptions and analysis of the suspension data from NC WISE.

The four research questions that guided the study along with their findings were: What are the contextual issues that warrant an alternative program? These issues can be summarized as behavioral challenges, emotional issues, drug and violent offenses, number of out-of-school suspensions, and behind academically. What are the capabilities of this school system to provide alternative sources? The large southeastern urban school district was capable and willing to fund alternative programs that could show positive results as long as drug and violent acts, out-of-school suspensions, and dropouts were trending up. Is the Right Choices Program following its design as planned? The focus groups showed strong agreement that the program was expanding and going in the right direction and there was agreement that the program was going as prescribed and should be continued. What is the impact of the Right Choices Program on student behavior and attitudes? The Right Choices test group received 234 out-of-school suspensions after attending the program and the matched pairs control group received 426 out-of-school suspensions for the same period of time; this represented a 45% reduction. From these positive findings of the individual and focus group interviews and the reduction in out-of-school suspensions of the Right Choices Program graduates, it was concluded that the Right Choices Program had a positive effect on the behavior of students.

The conclusion is that the Right Choices Program was effective in delivering constructive interventions that were positively affecting student behaviors when they returned to their home schools. These constructive interventions included low student-to-teacher ratio, structured classrooms with behavioral management, positive emphasis on behavior management, social skills instruction, and parental involvement.

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