Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, EDD

Committee Chair

Ingle, W. Kyle

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Powers, Deborah

Committee Member

Powers, Deborah

Committee Member

Immekus, Jason C.

Committee Member

Stevens, Doug

Author's Keywords

Career academies; small learning community; self-efficacy


The phrase “College and Career Readiness” echoes throughout the halls of schools and districts across the United States. Politicians pass legislation aimed at ensuring the readiness of every student graduating from high school. Despite these efforts, the United States is falling further behind in a global race for economic wellbeing and academic preparedness based on one of the most respected global measures of student achievement, the Programme for International Student Assessment (Murphy & Adams, 1998; Tucker, 2016). Even as the social fabric of the country changes and the number of Students of Color and students in poverty increase, there have been few changes in the educational model. As pressure from businesses and communities to improve student outcomes in order to improve the country’s economic outlook increases, schools and districts are forced to look to new educational models that deliver on the goal of College and Career Readiness for all (Zhao, 2015). I employed a sequential mixed methods case study approach to investigate the effects of career academy high schools on the development of students’ career self-efficacy. In Phase I, the Academies of Lexington (an arm of Fayette County Public Schools) career academy implementation team collected data using a Google Survey of graduating seniors from a single career academy high school. The team adapted the Career Decision Self-Efficacy Scale survey, which has a 5-item Likert scale to measure the students’ sense of career self-efficacy, as well as open-ended reflection questions, to collect data about student perceptions of the benefits of career academies and the development of their career self-efficacy. Using univariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), I explored the mean differences in perceived career self-efficacy across demographic groups, measured in two levels: white students and Students of Color. Using a multi-stage coding process, I examined recurrent themes in student answers. In Phase II, I used the mean differences and recurrent themes to develop prompts for a Group Level Assessment of seniors graduating from a career academy high school. This study discusses the results and effects of the career academy model on students’ perceived self-efficacy, as well as implications for future research.