Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Cornelious, Linda

Committee Member

Prince, Debra

Committee Member

Mathews, Jerry

Committee Member

Alexander, Mary

Committee Member

Hare, R. Dwight

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Education Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


For many years, nationwide, approximately one third of American high school students have not been graduating from high school. The dropout rate is one of the reasons cited for the implementation of the No Child Left Behind legislation, which highlighted the severity of the dropout problem and the imposing priorities and standards placed on school districts. Mississippi leads the nation in the rate of students who drop out of high school. The purpose of this study was to examine the factors that contribute to the dropout epidemic in secondary schools in the Jackson (Mississippi) Public School District where annually a high percentage of students, particularly African Americans, fail to graduate with their Grade 9 cohorts. This study used a descriptive and causal-comparative research design to identify the contributing factors to secondary school dropouts among 80 students enrolled in the Career Academic Placement (CAP) program in the Jackson Public School District. The Jackson Public Schools Dropout (JPSD) Questionnaire was utilized for the study. Differences in the students’ responses were examined using a Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance (ANOVA). Findings in this study indicated that the number one factor that led students to decide to drop out of school was feeling that they were behind, or failing course work. This affected about 55% of the students, causing them to leave school early. Additional results revealed 15% of the respondents who dropped out were Grade 9 students, and approximately 15% of the respondents who dropped out were Grade 12 students. Approximately 42.5% of the students comprised 10th graders and 27.5% were 11th graders.