Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Elizabeth Allan

Second Committee Member

Suzanne Estler

Third Committee Member

Mary Madden


For decades, research has indicated a connection between socioeconomic status (SES) and postsecondary enrollment. Although this relationship has been studied in myriad ways with numerous interventions implemented, the postsecondary enrollment rates of lower SES students continue to lag behind those of their middle and higher SES peers. Using policy discourse analysis, I analyzed a national sample of public comprehensive high school policy documents. I explored how the data shaped subject positions of students and considered postsecondary and economic trajectories of these positions. I found evidence of policies which defined and restricted student enrollment, suggesting the existence of a complex classification system emerging from a dominant scientific discourse. This study adds to the literature about achievement and equity for lower SES students by considering how school policy documents help shape identities of students as well as the educational experiences that likely result from such identity constructions. These school practices may inadvertently restrict achievement and postsecondary opportunities for all students; this research can help improve such practices.