HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPALS' PERCEPTIONS OF THE ROLE OF THE STUDENT INTERVENTION SPECIALIST IN PREVENTING DROPOUTS
Michael, Boyd John
Michael, Boyd J
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Title of Document: HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPALS' PERCEPTIONS OF THE ROLE OF THE STUDENT INTERVENTION SPECIALIST IN PREVENTING DROPOUTS Boyd John Michael III, Doctor of Education, 2014 Directed By: Dr. Dennis M. Kivlighan This qualitative study investigated and determined both commonalities and differences in a school system's high school principals' perceptions and expectations of the High School Dropout Prevention/Intervention Services Specialist position. These positions are more commonly referred to as student intervention specialists, and the individuals hired for these positions primarily focus on reducing high school dropouts and supporting students' efforts to graduate. The researcher used face-to-face interviews to determine critical responsibilities of the student intervention specialist position. Principals were asked five open-ended questions to evoke their perceptions of the role of the student intervention specialist in preventing dropouts and increasing graduation rates of high school students. Sixteen themes emerged from the principal interviews. Ten themes were specific descriptors of the responsibilities of the student intervention specialist as perceived by the principals: advocates and relationship builders, staff liaisons, community connectors, team members, academic supporters, attendance monitors, crisis managers, transition facilitators, cohort graduation monitors, and graduation coaches. Six of the emerged themes were identified changes or support for the student intervention specialist position: resources, employment, caseloads, professional development, qualifications, and the position as a worthwhile investment. The study validates the support principals have for the student intervention specialist position in reducing dropouts and increasing graduation rates. The researcher offers ten recommendations as a result of the study which may further contribute to the position's success: a review of the current job description, a change of the job title, an enhancement of available resources to support the position, the development of a contact list of community resources, an expansion of the position from 10-months to 12-months, differentiated professional development, manageable caseloads, information supplied to high school principals regarding the outcomes of the study, refinements to hiring practices, and a review of the study by senior staff. The results of this study are important because of the increasing need for students to minimally graduate from high school to prepare for the 21st century workforce. Each school system must use limited resources to maximize student achievement. An outcome of this study confirms the worth of the student intervention specialist in support of this effort at a minimal cost and a substantial return on investment.