Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Counseling and School Psychology

First Advisor

Justin Low

First Committee Member

Rachelle Kisst Hackett

Second Committee Member

Sarah Hendricks


Data from the National Center for Education Statistics suggest that as academic standards continue to rise, students' mental health continues to decline (Carr, 2022). Public schools today have a unique opportunity to support the ongoing learning of students, while also encouraging the development of social and emotional skills that will benefit students’ academic performance, as well as their general wellbeing. While schools today follow rigorous state standards and support academic learning, many students attending rural high schools are graduating without the skills necessary to be successful in college or career (Farrington et al., 2012).

This mixed-methods case study examines the social emotional skills necessary to promote college and career readiness for a rural California high school. Two research questions frame the study. First, what skills do rural educators, students, families, and community members believe are necessary for students to be successful in college or career? Secondly, in what ways do participants believe rural educators can help in the development of the skills identified in Research Question 1? Qualitative data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with school staff, parents, students, and community members to support both research questions. Quantitative data was later obtained through a follow-up survey with school staff, to identify five key, social emotional competences that school staff believe the be most critical for rural students to learn. It was determined that responsibility, work ethic, social skills, communication, and critical thinking skills are believed to be the most important social emotional skills to learn, for students attending high school within a rural community. Findings from this study contribute to current research as well as provide the district this set of core competencies to assist educators in developing school-wide practices and procedures that promote the development of the whole child.





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