Assessing the Effectiveness of a Community's Collaborative Efforts in Meeting the Needs of At-Risk Students: Setting the Stage for the Advancement of Alternatives in an Urban Public Education System

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 1-1-2006



Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Linda Lengyel

Committee Member

Carol S. Parke

Committee Member

Frank McLaughlin


Alternative Education, Alternatives, At-Risk Students, Collaboration, Community Collaboration


The focus of this study determined the effectiveness of collaborative efforts between an urban school district and mental health service providers in providing collaborative service to students in a low socio-economic community. Their collaborative efforts were an attempt to positively influence specific outcomes of identified "at-risk" students. This study evaluated outcome data of individual students to determine if the collaborative efforts were effective and whether a commitment should be made to continue and/or expand the existing collaborative partnership. This study was conducted to provide validating information pertaining to the existing program in the hope of gathering data that will encourage other service providers located within the district to join in the efforts of assisting the "at risk" students and their families. Additionally, this study was conducted to inform others who desire to move toward a process of collaboration and partnership development in their unique communities. The initial data analysis of the study intended to assess the impact that participation in an alternative education program has had on the identified student outcomes of Rates of Absenteeism, Grades in Mathematic and Language Arts, and Incidences of Discipline Infractions. The data analysis was conducted to determine if participation in the alternative education resulted in improvement in the identified student outcomes. Additionally, the study assessed the impact of the implementation of a curriculum based counseling component in year three of the six-year program had on the identified student outcomes. Of particular focus was the determination of whether the curriculum based counseling component has had an impact on improving the individual participant outcomes. To identify the level of importance stakeholders place on current and potential program elements, alternative program stakeholders were surveyed. Students who participated in the alternative education program performed better academically than they did in the general program. This is evidenced by the significantly increased mean scores of students in both Mathematics and Language Arts. Likewise, the rates of absenteeism of students significantly dropped during student participation in the program when compared to the rate of the same students while they participated in the general program. Finally, students demonstrated significantly fewer incidences of behavioral problems while participating in the program compared to non-participation in the program.

The results of this study demonstrate that this particular alternative education program had positive effects on both academic and social aspects of at-risk students. This study definitively indicates that following participation in this program, students demonstrated improvements in both academics and social behaviors; thus leading to the conclusion that this program, its design, and the delivery of specific services, contributes to the overall success of the program.





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