McClain, Rachael Jean Forrester
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During the 2012-2013 school year, Lanier Charter Career Academy (LCCA) began offering an authentic educational program targeting at-risk high school students with the purpose of preparing students to be effective members of the workforce. This qualitative case study investigates the student and staff experiences during the transition from an on-line curriculum model that had been used extensively in the past to the current format of a teacher-taught, authentic curriculum model. The new model was launched in an effort to increase student engagement levels and positively impact student outcomes. The desire of the program was for a greater number of students to move productively into the workforce or post-secondary options following the successful completion of their high school requirement. Students, faculty and administrative staff were interviewed and students observed to fully investigate the outcomes of the curriculum model change during the 2012-2013 school year. The researcher engaged in participant observation in order to develop a clear understanding of the transformation occurring at the secondary institution during the course of the school year. Student participants in the study were observed in classroom settings and participated in a series of in-depth interviews over the course of the school year. Data were analyzed throughout the research study using the constant comparative method seeking common themes across stories from the participants as well as narrative analysis of individual stories. Participants’ voices can be experienced through the narratives shared from interview data. Archival data and student work were also used to create a multi-viewpoint picture of the case. From the conceptual framework of the DRIVE program, the weight of importance of research-based strategies for effective instruction of at-risk populations can be heard in the students’ narratives as well as the themes from the comparison of data from interviews, observations, and document analysis.