The purpose of the study was to identify factors that affect students’ persistence in completion of the GED. Exploration of characteristics of participants that do/do not persist and obtain their GED assists the high school dropout, potential GED recipient, GED program staff, and society as a whole. More information was needed in order to effectively address issues that adversely affect students enrolled in GED programs at a rural community college. Therefore, examination of the GED program’s student database contributed in finding factors that both help and impede student success. Factors identified were investigated in an effort to assist in the retention of future participants in the GED program.
The subjects of this study consisted of 976 students enrolled in GED programs at a rural community college. The data utilized were archived and provided by the GED staff via charts and spreadsheets of student files and records (i.e. demographic sheet, entry tests-locator test or TABE test, pre-GED testing, exit tests-GED, etc.). There was no direct contact with subjects.
A discriminant function analysis was utilized in this study. This was done by weighting the variables and combining them into discriminant functions that separate the groups maximally. The discriminating variables were considered as predictor variables and the group membership variables were considered as dummy criterion variables. Also, a quantitative, non-experimental design was employed to show the direction and magnitude of the relationships between independent variables. The essential features of the design were the abilities to find associations, relate variables, and make predictions. The variables of age, race, gender, employment, public assistance, rural, single parent, and entry/exit levels significantly discriminated into the following groups at a 59.5% rate of accuracy: (1) GED completion, (2) GED continuation, and (3) GED dropouts. Age, race, gender, entry level, and rural had a significant impact on persistence/GED completion. Older, male, and higher entry level (4, 5, and 6) participants were more apt to persist and complete the GED program. While white and black participants completed at higher rates than Asian and Hispanic participants. The majority of rural participants also completed the GED program.