Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)




John Maddaus

Second Committee Member

William Davis

Third Committee Member

Janet Fairman


Presented as chronological stories, GED candidates identified challenges in their lives that they encountered during school and described how they made choices to leave high school in order to graduate. Many of these youth faced "unthinkable" family situations. Many came from low socio-economic status which created or supported further disabling factors and conditions. GED examiners corroborated survey and narrative data. They stated that economic opportunities in Maine are dwindling, parents are not positive role models or support, and academic achievement is often deterred by bullying and teasing by classmates. Through the narratives we discover that the GED process serves not only as a second chance for high school completion but also an opportunity to shine in an academic setting. For some, this is a healing process. As these youth voluntarily made a commitment to finishing their education, their self-determination provided an intrinsic sense of accomplishment. Passing each exam boosted their self-esteem and gave them hope for their future. This study begins to build a base for future research on understanding the increasing rise in teenagers who choose to take the GED exam. Continued research is needed on the effects of reculturing public schools so youth feel safe and accepted; community strategies that alleviate the effects of poverty and social class; and alternative programming or school choice for non-traditional high school students.

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