Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



The purpose of this study was to examine disparities in the receipt and retention of the TOPS scholarship in Louisiana. Specifically, the study examined why some schools are more successful than others in preparing students for TOPS eligibility, what impact availability of quality core curriculum courses has on TOPS eligibility, the ways the State can improve eligibility for lower income students, and the reasons why many lose their awards. The research utilized a sequential mixed methods QUAN/QUAL approach with multiple levels of analysis (school, cohort, and student). Matched pairs of outlier schools (one with a high rate of TOPS receipt and one with a low rate) were compared using quantitative and qualitative measurements and analyses to answer the research questions. Major findings included: the equitability of access to the TOPS scholarship is questionable; some schools serving lower income students do a better job of TOPS preparation than others; most of Louisiana’s high schools offer the required TOPS core curriculum courses, but some mostly rural and small schools lack the materials and instructors necessary to offer these courses; and the State needs to promote the TOPS Tech Award as a positive alternative for high school graduates. Recommendations from the study include: the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) should ensure that schools clearly communicate the TOPS core course requirements to all students and parents on an annual basis starting at the middle school level. BESE needs to guarantee that all high schools can offer the required core courses. BESE and the agency overseeing financial aid should assist school districts in sponsoring regular ACT exam preparatory workshops. The TOPS Tech Award requires more focus. The Board of Regents should encourage universities and colleges to provide both merit-based and need-based scholarships to deserving students.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Charles Teddlie



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Education Commons