Although school dropout rate remains a significant social and economic concern to our nation and has generated considerable research, little attention by scholars has examined the phenomena of re-engagement in effective school context and its developmental influences on at-risk students expectancy for success and task-value towards graduation. Given the multifaceted interactions of school context and the complex developmental needs of at-risk students, there were dual purposes for this three-phase, two-method qualitative study that addressed the literature concerns. The first purpose was to explore and identify policies, programs, and practices perceived as being most effective in re-engaging at-risk students behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively, at ten Model Continuation High Schools in California. Phases one and two collected data on the Model Continuation High Schools (MCHS) to address this purpose. In phase one, an inductive document review of the ten MCHS applications including four statement letters was conducted and results identified eleven policies, ten programs, and eleven practices that were effective in re-engaging at-risk students behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively. In phase two, the phenomenological ten-step analysis of semi-structured administrator interviews revealed eight re-engaging implementation strategies perceived to be effective with at-risk students. The second purpose was to build upon Eccles' Expectancy-Value Theoretical Framework by gaining insight on effective school context that supported at-risk students' developmentally appropriate expectancy for success and task-value beliefs towards graduation. Phase three conducted a deductive content analysis of eight theoretical based components on the combine data collected in phases one and two to address this second purpose. Results revealed that principles of Eccles’ Expectancy-Value Model were evident in all identified policies, programs, and practices of the ten MCHS. Model Continuation High Schools are exemplary sites with effective school context that have much to share with other continuation high schools looking for successful re-engaging approaches for at-risk students. The research provided results suggesting that MCHS had significant policies, programs, practices and implementation strategies that transform disengaged at-risk students into graduates by developing students' expectancy for success belief and task-value belief towards graduation. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership, administration, and policy; Education, Secondary -- California -- Social aspects; Minority high school dropouts -- California -- Social conditions -- Case Studies; High school dropouts -- Prevention -- California

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Purrington, Linda;