Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type

Dissertation (799 registration)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Ximena Suarez-Sousa


Freshman Academy, Program Evaluation, Ninth-Grade Transition, Academic Achievement, Student Engagement


The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of a freshman academy model on students’ academic achievement, behavioral and emotional engagement by examining factors such as: credits earned and GPA, attendance and behavior referrals, and student survey data. The study examined these factors using existing data obtained from a Southwest metro suburban high school and a statewide triennial student survey. Data from cohorts prior to the implementation of the freshman academy and post-academy implementation were extracted from Infinite Campus, the school’s student information system, and quantitatively analyzed using a causal-comparative design. Welch t-tests revealed that academic achievement indicators did not differ significantly between pre- and post-freshman academy implementation, while the freshman academy implementation had a positive, statistically significant impact on behavioral engagement indicators. Emotional engagement indicators showed minimal differences between construct scales, however examination of county and state survey results for the same years revealed significantly decreases, showing that the freshman academy had a buffering effect from a broader, downward trend in student emotional engagement statewide. One-way MANOVAs were completed to investigate mean differences in academic achievement and behavioral engagement. Two way-ANOVAs were conducted to investigate mean differences in emotional engagement indicator scales. Subgroups analyzed included gender, free or reduced-price lunch status, special education designation and English Learner designation.



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