Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type

Capstone Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Jeremy N. Phillips, Ph.D. MPA

Committee Member

Mark Davis, Ph.D., MPA


This qualitative phenomenological study explored the lived experiences and perspectives of six parenting teens who pursued their secondary credentials outside of traditional high school settings, and exhibited high aspirations for enrolling in post-secondary educational or training institutions. The research questions were: (1) What factors were most influential in helping parenting teens earn their secondary credentials, and (2) What factors led them to enroll or not enroll in post-secondary educational or training institutions? In-depth interviews were coded and analyzed according to the research questions. Four major thematic expressions emerged: (1) I want to be a better mother and provide a better life for my child; (2) I would not be here if it wasn’t for this program; (3) I struggled to balance work, school and childcare; (4) I plan to continue my education, but I need stability. This study uses attitude-achievement paradox theory and principle-agency theory to explain the perspectives of the study participants and the results of the study. The attitude-achievement paradox did not initially apply to these teens. They had good attitudes towards education and, with help, achieved their secondary credentials. However, almost none of these parenting teens enrolled in post-secondary educational and training institutions. These teens experienced a secondary dropping out phenomenon, where they, once again, halted their educational pursuits. These parenting teens needed services to continue after graduation, but these services were unavailable due to funding constraints and principle-agency conflicts. Implications for practice and policy, and recommendations for future research, were offered as part of this study.