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Date of Award

1974

Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Roger L. Reimer

First Committee Member

John R. Lutzker

Second Committee Member

Frederic H. Busher

Third Committee Member

Helmut H. Reimer

Fourth Committee Member

J. Connor Sutton

Abstract

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to describe the California Opportunity Program and to determine if the program was meeting its legislative mandate to assist students in resolving problems impeding success in regular classes.

PROCEDURES: Six school districts were selected from the one hundred twenty-four California school districts operating Opportunity Programs at the secondary level during the 1972-73 school year. The Opportunity Program in each school district included in the study was described on the basis of interviews with school district administrators, building administrators, instructional staff, students, and classroom observation. Data Here collected from each school district regarding student selection process, teacher-student ratio, teacher preparation, auxiliary services regularly rendering assistance, administrative support, facilities, program focus, classroom procedures, student evaluation procedures, perceived factors contributing to Opportunity Program success, and rate of successful student return to regular classes.

FINDINGS: The data collected indicated that wide variations existed in the implementation of the Opportunity Program. The student selection process reflected the program philosophy of each school district; two of the school districts felt that the purpose of the Opportunity Program was both behavioral rehabilitation and as such was not to be used for remediation, while the remaining four felt that the need for behavioral rehabilitation was often accompanied by a need for remediation. Although only one school district has a screening committee, all agreed that one should improve their opportunity Program. Teacher··student ratio ranged from 1:12 to 1:25, with teacher havinq fewer than 15 students assuming additional school duties. Less than thirty percent of the teachers held graduate degrees, While just over thirty-five percent were on their first teaching assignment. All of the Opportunity Programs had teacher-aides, four made regular use of school counselors, three were assisted by school administrative staff, two received aid from school psychologists, two had student teachers, and one was afforded weekly psychiatric consultation. Administrative support was characterized by half as strong and half as adequate. All Opportunity Programs were housed in facilities as good or better than the regular classes in their respective school districts, with five of the six school districts either conducting their program in a separate facility or planning t.o do so in the near- future. Individualized instruction was employed by all, with programmed materials being used by four programs. Counseling was primarily confined to group work, with emphasis on parental involvement in-half the programs. Remedial instruction and field trips were consider·the two most important factors contributing to Opportunity Program success, followed by the employment of a selection committee and vocational education. The rate of successful return to regular classes ranged from five to thirty-three percent.

CONCLUSIONS: (1) The Opportunity Program does not successfully return a high percentage of students to regular classes. (2} It does provide an alternative educational experience which enables some students who would otherwise drop out to graduate from high school. (3} Most of the students being served by the Opportunity Program need more than the short-term assistance suggested by this legislative mandate. (4} The California State Department of Education should assume an active role in developing program guidelines and curriculum.

RECOMMENDATIONS !'OR FUR'I'!!ER STUDY: Educational research should be conducted to: (1} Replicate? this study with a larger sample. (2) Consider the relationship of such variables as sex, race, academic ability, language facility, interests, attitudes, family and other out of school factors to Opportunity Proqram success. (3} Compare student select.ion criteria with rate of successful student return to regular classes. (4) Investigate the relationship between various Opportunity Program curricula and rate of successful student return to regular classes. (5) Interview a large sample of Opportunity Program students and parents to determine if their educational expectations are being met.

Pages

104

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