Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Davis, E. James

Committee Member

Porter, Julia

Committee Member

Sparkman, Lavinia

Committee Member

Wiseman, M. William

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Community College Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


The purpose of the study was to identify factors that affect whether or not students persist in completion of the GED. Exploration of characteristics of participants that do/do not persist and obtain their GED not only assists the high school dropout, potential GED recipient, and GED program staff, but also society as a whole. More information was needed in order to effectively address issues that adversely affect students enrolled in GED programs at rural community colleges. Therefore, examination of the GED program’s student database contributed in finding factors that both help and impede student success. Factors identified were investigated in an effort to assist in the retention of future participants in the GED program. The subjects of this study consisted of 976 students enrolled in the GED program at a rural community college. The data utilized were archived data, so there was no direct contact with subjects. The data were provided by the GED staff via charts and spreadsheets of student files and records (i.e. demographic sheet information, entry tests-locator test or TABE test, pre-GED testing, exit tests-GED, etc.). A discriminant function analysis was utilized in this study. This was done by weighting the variables and combining them into discriminant functions that separate the groups maximally. The discriminating variables were considered as predictor variables and the group membership variables were considered as dummy criterion variables. Also, a quantitative, non-experimental design was employed to show the direction and magnitude of the relationships between independent variables. The essential features of the design were the abilities to find associations, relate variables, and make predictions. The variables of age, race, gender, employment, public assistance, rural, single parent, and entry/exit levels significantly discriminated into the following groups at a 59.5% rate of accuracy: (1) GED completion, (2) GED continuation, and (3) GED dropouts. Also, age, race, gender, entry level, and rural had a significant impact on persistence/GED completion. With respect to age, it was revealed that older participants were more apt to persist and complete the GED program. White and black participants completed at higher rates than Asian and Hispanic participants. While males completed at higher rates than females. Participants with higher entry levels (4, 5, and 6) completed the program at higher rates. The majority of rural participants completed the GED program.