Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Guillermo Montes

Second Supervisor

Diane Reed


Low graduation rates in the United States indicate a need to better connect the high school curriculum with realities of life beyond high school. The purpose of this study was to develop a theory about successful career and technical education students’ perceptions of the organizational features that contribute to their academic achievement and graduation. This study employed a qualitative methodology and participants were high school senior CTE students. Data was transcribed, coded and analyzed using grounded theory methods. Core categories and themes were revealed through the data analysis to help create an emergent theory which is represented in the Linkages for Lifelong Success model which focuses on respect, equity and opportunities as critical classroom components which lead to students’ increased academic success and increased graduation rates. Implications for hiring teachers, for professional practice and for executive leaders were revealed through the student voices in this study. The research participants gave solid examples of how to change their home schools to take a more comprehensive approach to education. Although it seems simple to provide a classroom environment that fosters equity, respect and opportunities as vehicles for increasing student achievement and graduation rates, it still lies in the realm of the ideal and not what actually takes place in American classrooms. Recommendations for teachers and administrators with regard to CTE includes a comprehensive high school curriculum that involves CTE, an environment in which students are treated in a way that allows them to pursue various career options, and the implementation of the Linkages for Lifelong Success model.

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