Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Patricia Ripoll


There is a high rate of academic failure among disadvantaged preschool and post preschool students in some school districts in Virginia, yet little is understood about the relationship between education models and academic performance among economically disadvantaged students (EDS). The problem explored is the absence of classroom exercises in pre and post preschools that capitalize on cognitive development to improve executive function (EF) and self-regulation (SR) skills. The purpose of this study is to understand if a change in current classroom practices impacts academic performance among low-income students. Narrative policy serves as a theoretical guide in this qualitative case study that focused on the perceptions of principals, teachers, and administrators regarding best practices for preschool and post-preschool students and, secondly, how teachers implement classroom exercises to capitalize on the development of executive function and self-regulation skills among economically disadvantaged students. All data were inductively coded and then subjected to a thematic analysis procedure and included archived school report cards, preschool enrollment, and semi structured interviews with 3 former teachers now serving as administrators who supervise classroom activities. Findings indicate that best practices for EDS were a responsive classroom approach to correct disruptive behavior while developing mental capacity and simultaneously capitalizing on exercises to improve EF and SR skills in a classroom environment. Implications of social change begin with the empowerment of students, teachers, and administrators. Policy recommendations for social change include mandating two years of high-quality preschool for EDS as well as pursuing policies supporting SR and EF skills.