Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Cathy Kaufman, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

David M. Piper, D.Ed.

Third Advisor

Joseph F. Marcoline, D.Ed.


This qualitative cross-focus group study investigates how two very different measures of proficiency serve as a bridge to post-graduation success in one small Pennsylvania School District. Attitudes and experiences of parents of students who demonstrated proficiency on the State tests are compared and analyzed with those of parents of students who demonstrated proficiency on a local, holistic proficiency assessment model. The collected data shows that students represented in the different groups had little difference in the achievement of stated goals in their post-high school careers. Both groups of parents further demonstrated negative attitudes toward the State assessment test and its impact on future success, although for different reasons. The parents of students who had demonstrated proficiency on the test expressed a belief that the proficiency assessment limited their students’ instruction, while the opposite group of parents focused more on the negative feelings and loss of self-esteem generated from lack of test success. Those findings supported the major conclusion of the study that both group of parents favored having the school involved in the teaching and assessing of emotional intelligence skills and habits and the assessment of proficiency through multiple sources to help students bridge to post-high school success.