Title

The School-to-Work Opportunities Act and its affect on student performance in Connecticut public schools

Date of Completion

January 2008

Keywords

Education, Administration|Education, Secondary

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This study examined the extent to which the intent of the federally mandated School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994 was realized in Connecticut's public secondary schools. It was important to identify what changes in student performance with respect to dropout rates, students attending college, and student performance on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) were realized in school districts that were committed to school-to-work as a means to educational reform and enhanced student performance as compared to those districts that were not committed to this initiative. ^ A quasi-experimental non-equivalent control groups' design was used to examine the extent to which the School-to-Work Opportunities Act grant funds impacted student outcomes. The Received Grant Group (treatment group) accepted grant money for two or more years. The Did Not Receive Grant Group (control group) did not accept any grant money. A one-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to determine whether there were differences between the two groups on the posttest measure in 2000 after equating the groups on the pretest measure in 1996. It is important to note that the group of high school districts that did not receive school-to-work grant funds came from communities that were significantly (p < .01) more affluent than the group that did receive grant funds. ^ In this study, significant differences (p < .05) were found for only two (annual dropout rates and CAPT Index Score in language arts) of the eleven student performance measures examined. In both instances the effect size was small. With respect to students attending two-year and four-year college in 2000, the percent of students meeting the State goal on the CAPT in 2000 and the CAPT Index score in 2000 in mathematics, science, and interdisciplinary studies, there was no significant difference between the grant groups. When interpreted more broadly within the context of the groups that were being compared, no significant difference could indicate that due to school-to-work funds, high schools in the less affluent communities were able to perform at levels equivalent to those of high schools in the more affluent communities. ^