Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Tara Shepperson

Second Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Third Advisor

Robert Biggin


The importance of college to the individual and society has prompted recent policies and accountability systems to emphasize college readiness as the primary benchmark for high school success. Advanced/honors courses, Advanced Placement (AP)/dual credit courses, and gifted programs are the most common advanced academic service options available in public schools to ensure college readiness. This study investigated 2014-2015 school year data associated with 2,792 students in five high schools in five different school districts in rural remote Appalachian Kentucky. The goal was to see which advanced academic service was most associated with college ready students. College readiness was measured in two ways: ACT composite scores and enrollment in college full-time immediately after high school. Findings from descriptive and comparative analyses indicated that participation in both AP and dual credit courses were associated with higher ACT composite scores and enrollment in college after graduation. Students who participated in gifted services had considerably higher ACT composite scores and attendance in college after graduation. Students who took advanced/honors courses demonstrated fairly low ACT composite scores and showed no greater attendance in college after graduation than the general population. These results raise questions about the effectiveness of advanced academic services to ensure college readiness, at least in rural remote schools. To better make use of limited funding and other support, findings from this study suggest that state and district policies and systems to account for student college readiness may need to (1) reconsider which advanced academic services best promote college readiness, and (2) ensure student records and accountability systems allow for better analysis of which services are most effective for students.