Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Education

Degree Name



Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Trevor Turner

Second Advisor

Dr. Moses Norman

Third Advisor

Dr. Darrell Groves


Every day thousands of students make the decision to abandon the nation’s high schools for various reasons. Instead of staying in school and graduating with their high school diploma, these students opt for a life that is often inundated with personal, social, educational, and employment barriers, such as unemployment, incarceration, poverty, and a reliance on public assistance. After being out of school and experiencing these unwelcoming circumstances, many high school dropouts decide to give education a second chance. So, within years of leaving school, many high school dropouts enroll in
adult education programs to pursue the General Educational Development certificate. Although thousands of students return to extend their education, the data show that some students persist, others continue through a cycle of “stopping out,” and many give up once again. Because of this occurrence and the reality that existing research examining this phenomenon is scarce, this study sought to disclose the specific variables that increased a student’s likelihood of persisting after returning to Adult Secondary Education programs to pursue the GED certificate. To adequately understand this phenomenon, a mixed-methods approach was utilized to determine which student-input, environmental, and institutional variables showed a relationship with persistence. To analyze the findings, the researcher referred to descriptive statistics, a frequency count, t-tests, qualitative coding, a Pearson r correlation, and analysis of observation data. The findings demonstrated that there was a high-positive relationship between persistence and self-efficacy, teacher-student relationships, the impact of family, teaching methods and pedagogy, and sense of belonging. Moreover, the qualitative data demonstrated that the convenience and flexibility of classes was also significant. Findings from the qualitative data also yielded additional variables that impacted persistence that were not in the researcher’s initial hypotheses. Implications, recommendations, and limitations were discussed in detail.

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