Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Maureen Ellis


Ninth grade students are at a greater risk of dropping out of high school than are other grade-level populations. Factors such as a lack of academic preparedness, social and developmental changes, and the decline of parental support often result in 9th grade students falling behind in their academic work. Using holistic education as the conceptual framework, the goal of this intrinsic case study was to explore the perceptions of school and district office administrators on the impact that a 9th grade transition program has on the 9th grade retention and dropout rate of a high school located in the southeastern United States. The features of the 9th grade transition program (designated personnel, classes, location, and resources) were analyzed. Data collection occurred by a review of the school's evaluation reports and one-on-one interviews using a purposeful sample with 4 school and district office administrators. Thematic analysis of data followed an open coding process to identify categories and themes. The findings indicated that the 9th grade transition program positively impacted student and school performance and revealed inconsistencies in the transition programs and services among the 3 high schools within the school district. The resulting project was a policy recommendation that advocates for the use of standard 9th grade best practices. This study contributes to positive social change through the implementation of a best practice policy recommendation, intended to reduce 9the grade retention and dropout rates of the students within the school district.