Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

David Anderson, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

James Berry, PhD

Committee Member

Ella Burton, PhD

Committee Member

Phillip Cardon, PhD


In September of 2007, the Michigan Department of Education introduced a program referred to as seat time waivers to a few school districts in Michigan to pilot. During the 2009- 2010 school year, 999 students were on seat time waivers with a total of 5070 classes taken by these students. While the number of online learners continues to grow exponentially, the levels of success are questionable.

This study investigates the reason why some students placed on seat time waivers find academic success while others do not. It compares the different academic characteristics the students self-report and identifies which of these had the greatest impact on academic success. By identifying these characteristics, students, parents, and school administration can make more informed decisions when deciding who is a candidate for a seat time waiver.

A modified version of the Education Success Prediction Instrument (ESPRI) was completed by 205 alternative education students in Grades 9-12 on seat time waivers in Michigan. The students self-reported on their perceived level of self-regulation, self-management, external support, socioeconomic status, internal and external locus of control, and technology aptitude. Exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling were used to identify the characteristics that had the greatest impact on total courses completed and the pace the courses were completed.

Major findings include (a) working at school impacts both outcomes, (b) different factors impact each outcome, (c) students showed a deficit perspective through internal locus of control, (d) female course completion increased with increased face-to-face meetings with their mentors, (e) self-management did not impact either outcome, (f) student self-regulation was key to increase total course completion and pace.

The results provide insight for school districts and families looking to put a student on a seat time waiver. This information can help school districts and families avoid costly mistakes for a district and setbacks for students who do not pass online courses.