An exploratory study of continuation high school engagement experiences in Stanislaus County

The purpose of this study was to engage continuation high school students in an opportunity to share perceptions of their high school engagement experiences. Using the lens of social justice to focus on engagement and student voice this exploratory study examined the perceptions of 32 continuation high school students at three continuation high schools located in Stanislaus County. A survey was utilized to meet the goals of this study. The questionnaire focused on students’ perceptions concerning: 1) their existing internal supports, 2) barriers in pursuing their education, and 3) elements of their education in traditional high school and continuation school that have motivated them to complete their schooling. The findings reveal significance related to students’ stories and shared experiences. The findings suggest four major themes as related to student engagement practices and factors which influence students’ success in high school: 1) school structure, 2) positive environment, 3) personal attention, and 4) educational barriers. This study resulted in three major conclusions. First, comprehensive high school policies, as related to programs and structure, must be revisited and redesigned in order address the needs of all students. Second, the current structure of continuation high schools is working to engage students. Finally, teacher education programs must be redesigned to incorporate elements of developing interpersonal skills and building meaningful student relationships within the classroom setting.