Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Abbas Tashakkori


This dissertation is the product of a three-phase exploratory study that utilized both quantitative and qualitative methods in order to develop and test a composite indicator of high school performance that measures the degree to which high schools strike a balance between the press for academic excellence and the need to sustain all students--even the most marginal--on to high school completion. In Phase I, undaunted and relative performance indicators (UPIs and RPIs) of student achievement and participation were calculated for a statewide sample of 308 schools whose grade configurations included grades 9-12. The achievement scores were composites of student performance in five subject areas of a state exit examination administered in grades 10 and 11. The participation scores, on the other hand, were composites derived from student attendance, discipline, and dropout data for grades 9-12. Though the primary focus of the study was school performance during SY 1993-94, annual performance scores were calculated for three years (SYs 1991-92 - 1993-94). In Phase II, the achievement and participation scores for all 308 schools were compared. A three-by-three contingency table was then used to re-categorize schools into nine effectiveness categories ranging from consistently effective to consistently ineffective for both outcomes. In Phase III, four cases were selected for intensive, site-based research in order to accumulate evidence that could be used to (a) gauge the accuracy of the school effectiveness classifications and (b) lend insight into how the school climate and processes of consistently effective schools vary from those of differential effective schools. Three of the four schools visited during Phase III were differentially effective (i.e., they were effective for one indicator, but ineffective for the other). The fourth school was consistently ineffective. Analysis of the participation and achievement UPIs showed that the two indicators were moderately correlated (r =.67). When a $\pm$.674 SD effectiveness criterion was applied and the two sets of SEIs were compared, roughly 51% of schools were consistently classified for achievement and participation. Finally, the achievement indicator proved more stable over time than the participation indicator.