The Impact of the Samantha Academy of Creative Education (SACE) on Students Placed At-Risk at a Suburban High School in Southwest Texas
Valdez, Patrick J.
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Reducing student dropout is of extreme importance to the United States. The loss in revenue as well as in human terms is huge. Several problems exist concerning students placed at-risk for dropping out. These include no agreed upon method of calculating drop out rates, differing opinions on the causes of school dropout, and a body of literature that is sparse concerning educational approaches for keeping students placed at-risk in school. This study examined the impact of the Samantha Academy of Creative Education (SACE) on the students placed at-risk and the teacher perceptions of the SACE program by the teachers working in the program at a suburban high school of Southwest Texas. The population of this mixed-methods study consisted of secondary general education students from a large suburban high school in Southwest Texas who had been placed at-risk. One of these groups consisted of students that participated in the SACE program while the other group consisted of a similar group of students not participating in SACE. Statistical tests were conducted to determine if a difference existed between the two groups with regard to graduation rate, attendance rate, and core grade average. Perceptions of the SACE program by the teachers that worked within the SACE program were gathered. Results indicate that student placed at-risk who participated in the SACE program had higher core grade averages, higher rates of graduation, and higher rates of attendance compared to students placed at-risk within the same high school who did not participate in SACE. Teachers perceived that the SACE program was efficacious for students placed at risk because of three broad themes. This study further demonstrated that effective programs aimed at helping students placed at-risk can be developed within the context of a regular high school setting. Recommendations for further research and implications for practice were provided.