The impact of jobs for America’s graduates (JAG) on students’ social and emotional well-being : a multiple case study.
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Clay, Brandi L., 1988-
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Students who experience poverty often face barriers to school success. These barriers include emotional factors that affect learning, internal motivation, as well as social and cultural barriers. This multiple case study examines how a specific school intervention program, Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), increases students’ social well-being to help them experience academic success. In an era where educational emphases seem to focus solely on how well students perform on standardized tests, JAG embraces a unique curriculum model that focuses on developing students’ social and emotional well-being. The three-year program focuses on preparing students to succeed in the 21st century by removing social and emotional barriers that are often roadblocks to academic success. JAG also aids in the development of key employability skills that are necessary for students to become effective employees who can sustain employment in a demanding workforce. The conceptual framework that guides this study is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic Needs, which includes self-actualization, self-esteem, love, belonging, as well as safety and physiological needs (McLeod, 2018). This theory posits that students’ basic needs must be satisfied for them to experience academic success. With Maslow’s theory in mind, JAG supports a model and curriculum that recognizes students’ basic needs as building blocks for academic success. With over 7,000 students dropping out of United States’ high schools each day, drop-out prevention programs are needed to reduce this downward spiral. Research indicates there are multiple reasons why students drop out of high school: increased crime rates in low socioeconomic neighborhoods, inequitable resources, and teacher quality. Therefore, a multi-purpose solution must be employed to combat this issue. Dropout prevention programs and interventions are designed around strategies to help students gain effective social and emotional skills, as well as skills associated with their academic needs, may well be the key to solving the downward dropout spiral often seen among our nation’s youth. Through investigative research, four implications were identified to aid in decreasing the nation's increasing dropout rate. The implications were directly tied to the major research themes, including creating positive adult relationships and interventions that support social and emotional barrier removal.