Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2009


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Jean Higgins

Committee Member

Robert Furman

Committee Member

Carol Parke


senior, reform, graduates


The senior year of high school has long been problematic. It is seen by many as a year of leisure between the rigors of high school and the rigors of college or career that are yet to come. Schools, school districts, teachers, and administrators struggle with ways to make the senior year more interesting and useful to students, often instituting programs with this purpose in mind. Time, money, and other scarce resources are expended in this pursuit, but little is done to find out if the programs are having the desired effect.

This study carried out a mixed-method analysis of the opinions of students who had graduated from three different types of school districts in Western Pennsylvania: one urban, one suburban, and one rural. Graduates were presented with the Senior Year Program Survey, a researcher-developed instrument which asked questions about five specific programs that may or may not have been offered in their school during their senior year. Some respondents who expressed an interest in further participation were then interviewed by telephone to explore their opinions in more depth.

The results of the surveys and the results of the interviews combined to create a picture of which programs were perceived by these graduates to have been useful to them in the years since their high school graduation. Overall opinions were measured, as well as comparisons of college-bound students vs. non-college-bound, and male vs. female. Recommendations are made for current school administrators who may be considering instituting, continuing, or discontinuing such programs. Suggestions are also made for follow-up studies with larger, or differently-chosen participants.