Publication Date


Degree Program

Educational Leadership

Degree Type

Education Specialist


The current study examined the efficacy of the Training Opportunities Program for Undiscovered Potential (TOP UP) at Western Kentucky University. TOP UP at WKU consists of a yearlong program addressing the academic, social, and career orientation needs of "at risk" high school students from the ten county Barren River Area Development District (BRADD). The primary focus of the program revolves around an eight-week, residential work-study phase held on campus and targets sixty "at risk" high school students enrolled in the ninth, tenth, or eleventh grades. The current study included students enrolled in the program during the academic years 1990-91, 1991-92, and 1992-93. Data for use in the current study were obtained from existing records relevant to participants in the TOP UP program. Individual records were examined by the researcher; data was recorded concerning each participant's age, race, gender, number of years in the TOP UP program, high school attended, and current graduation status. Descriptive statistics and Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficients were computed for and between each of the variables considered within the context of the study. A Two Way Analysis of Variance was utilized to determine if the participants differed significantly with respect to their graduation status when grouped according to the different variables examined during the study. Participants in the TOP UP program at WKU exhibited a high school dropout rate that is qualitatively lower than students who did not participate in the program. Pearson Correlations revealed that the only variable significantly related to graduation status was age. Similarly, Analysis of Variance revealed a significant difference between participants only when they were grouped according to age. Specifically, participants who began the program at an earlier age tended to have a significantly higher probability of graduating than did their counterparts who entered the program at a more advanced age. Based upon the findings of the study, it was recommended that the TOP UP program be continued with an increased emphasis on involving participants at an earlier age.



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