Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Kelsey Musselman


The purpose of this study was to analyze the perceptions of high school graduates and high school dropouts regarding early childhood education. Research shows that dropping out of high school can have negative societal, economic, and emotional impacts. Waiting until a student reaches high school to provide support that may prevent the student from dropping out can have adverse consequences. Children form cognitive, affective, and physical skills and abilities during their first 5 years of life. Known as the formative years, how a child’s learning is supported and enhanced during the first 5 years can be essential for school readiness and success.

To explore the relationship of high school dropouts and graduates regarding their early learning experiences and their perceptions of early childhood education, this dissertation analyzed the impacts of early education on a student’s high school success. Data were collected through a survey instrument and focus-group interviews for qualitative and quantitative results. Participants in Sample Group 1 were high school dropouts enrolled in an adult high school program at a rural community college in North Carolina. Sample Group 2 participants were high school graduates enrolled in an AAS degree-seeking program at the community college.

Per analysis of the data, it was determined that early learning experiences that occur after age 1 as well as the type of supportive relationship a teacher establishes with students can determine a student’s ability to become a high school graduate. In addition, the results indicated that while high school graduates felt that interpersonal skills such as working well with others and following procedures were instrumental in preparing children for school, data indicated that high school dropouts perceived rote skills such as counting and knowing shapes and colors as having the greatest influence on a child’s preparedness for school.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.