Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Davis, James E.

Committee Member

Farmer, Angela S.

Committee Member

Armstrong, Christopher C.

Committee Member

Hailey, Leigh Ann

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Elementary, Middle, and Secondary School Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


Approximately one-third of all high school students in the United States fail to graduate. To address the problem of decreasing the dropout rate and subsequently increasing the graduation rate, the researcher looked at factors prior to high school that played a role in a student’s decision to drop out prior to completion. The purposes of this were to (1) investigate the published “best practices” literature pertaining to reducing student dropouts and (2) develop a model strategic plan for middle schools that would lead to improving graduation rates at the high school level. This project focuses on creating a model strategic plan for middle schools to help decrease the number of students dropping out of school prior to graduation. There are two research questions that guide the project. Key components of the model strategic plan are based upon best practices literature. These components include: student engagement, parental involvement, instructional strategies, teacher and student interaction, instructional strategies, interventions, gradual disengagement, special education, and response to intervention. This research project will help middle schools develop a specific plan that targets at-risk students and focuses on specific factors that cause a student to drop out of school. If used accurately, the plan will help high schools track at-risk students, which in the long run may increase graduation rates.