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Date of Award

Summer 8-2019

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no restriction)

Work Type

Dissertation in Practice

Degree Name

Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Christopher Knaus, Ph.D., Chair

Second Advisor

Art Jarvis, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Vince Pecchia, Ed.D.


Many Washington State schools struggled with keeping students engaged in traditional comprehensive high schools. Programs that gave students a second chance by providing alternatives to traditional high schools were thus created. This study explored how ten students of color from an online alternative 1418 Open Door program perceived their experience within the program. The findings included three major themes that developed from the analysis of the qualitative data, which included (a) student goals, with a subtheme of family support; (b) barriers to students, with subthemes of institutional socialization, transitioning as an online student, and school-based racism; and (c) benefits of a flexible online program.

Recommendations included three changes needed within the program. The first action step is to include staff, district leadership, and stakeholders to actively engage the voices of students in the planning, discussions around curriculum, and class offerings. The second action step is to promote student success by actively engaging families and students with direction and practice on how to be a successful online student. Lastly, the third action step is to actively engage students in hands-on learning activities leading to graduation credit.