Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Christina Dawson


The problem addressed in this study was the uncertain influence of a local curricular policy change. Educators, policymakers, and communities need more data to determine the usefulness of changes in policy and practice because changes involve restructuring, resource allocation, and understanding the intended and unintended consequences of policy implementation. In the United States, fewer than 50% of high school graduates complete a college preparatory curriculum and are eligible to enter 4-year public state universities. The purpose of this ex post facto study was to investigate how a change in local curricular policy might have influenced high school graduates' college readiness as measured by high school GPA. Conley's framework of the four keys of college readiness and high school GPA was used. Archival student data from a western school district included 79,194 scores from the prepolicy cohort and 81,816 from the postpolicy cohort. Independent samples t-test results indicated a statistically significant decline in GPA, and the null hypothesis was rejected. Results from a chi-square test indicated that fewer students were college eligible in the postpolicy cohort; again, the null hypothesis was rejected. The positive social change intent of those making the policy change was laudable yet increasing course requirements for graduation alone did not serve as a mechanism to improve college and career readiness. Increasing student performance in a college preparatory curriculum might require additional supports such as improved instruction, increased intervention, and expanded access to college advisement to build college knowledge. Further research is needed to understand how policy changes influence student outcomes such as college access, persistence, and completion.