Directors of Pupil Personnel Services' perceptions of student needs, program resources, and service effectiveness for at-risk high school students
Lehigh, Craig Davis
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Some high school students are in danger of dropping out, following personally destructive paths or committing violent acts. By identifying and analyzing the perceived student risk factors and the perceived effectiveness of school-based programs, schools can have a better understanding of the behaviors and trends that are affecting students and will allow educators to proactively design effective programs. This mixed-methodology quantitative and qualitative research design study sought to discover the perceived seriousness of different risk factors exhibited by students and the perceived effectiveness of programming designed to target the at-risk population. This study also sought to examine whether significant associations, through the perceptions of the respondents to a questionnaire, could be determined among the participating schools in regards to seriousness of student behavior and program effectiveness constructs utilizing equamax rotation. Data collection was conducted in two phases. In Phase I, nominal group technique (NGT) focus groups involving students and an NGT group involving staff were used to determine the types of behaviors the participants thought were the most important behaviors to address. In Phase II of data collection, through the use of a questionnaire, Directors of Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) were asked to identify the perceived seriousness of at-risk behaviors and to evaluate the perceived effectiveness of programming designed to assist at-risk students. Key findings in research Phase I found that student NGT groups produced some of the same risk factors as the staff NGT group, and some of the items between the student and staff groups were different. The questionnaire in research Phase II produced the perceived seriousness by PPS directors of student risk factors and the perceived effectiveness of programs in place to assist at-risk students. The at-risk programs were viewed collectively as being more effective than not effective by respondents to the questionnaire. With the application of equamax rotation to the data, it may be possible to predict serious student risk factors and effectiveness of atrisk programs from the identification of nine risk factor constructs and three program effectiveness constructs.