Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in School Leadership


Center for Leadership & Learning


College of Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Ellen Treadway

Second Committee Member

Dr. John A. Freeman

Third Committee Member

Dr. Christie Smith

Program Director

Dr. John A. Freeman

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Jeff Robertson


Northwest Arkansas has one of the largest populations of Marshall Islanders outside of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The first know Marshallese immigrant arrived in the 1986, and the first Marshallese student in Northwest Public Schools arrived in the late 1980’s. Since that time, an estimated 10,000–12,000 Marshallese have settled in Northwest Arkansas (McElfish, 2016, p. 2). Almost 3,000 Marshallese students attend Northwest Public Schools, with Northwest High School having the largest population in the state. There is a perception that Marshallese students have lower attendance rates than peers, and this study was conducted to determine which factors most impact the attendance of Marshallese students attending NHS. Research was conducted through analysis of archival data and one-on-one interviews with stakeholders. Archival data included attendance as well as English language proficiency scores, standardized assessment scores, graduation rate, and disciplinary infractions. Stakeholders interviewed included recent Marshallese graduates (five years or less), Marshallese parents/guardians, Marshallese community liaisons, and non-Marshallese school personnel to capture a diverse set of perspectives. Findings were analyzed, and the data revealed that family and connectivity to school were the major factors impacting the attendance of Marshallese students at this Northwest Arkansas high school. Based on these findings, implications and recommendations for future research were discussed. As stated by Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” I could not have reached this point without the love, support, and guidance from each of you, and I offer my most sincere appreciation to you all.