Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Kevin Roessger

Committee Member

Kenda Grover

Second Committee Member

Gary Udouj


Adult Basic Education, Adult Literacy, General Education Diploma, Grit, Perceived Social Support, Test of Adult Basic Education


Adult Basic Education (ABE) is a critical part of the educational landscape in the United States; its aim is to improve the basic reading, writing, and numeracy skills of the very diverse population of adults in America who lack proficiency in these skills, and more often than not, a high school graduation credential (U.S. Department of Education, 2021a). Each program year, federal funding for ABE state administrated programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, 2014) is tied to percentages of participants who make measurable skills gains (MSGs). One type of MSG is Educational Functioning Level (EFL) gains, which are based on scale scores. However, research shows that the attrition rate can be high for ABE programs, and many students leave before reaching any educational milestones (Kerka, 1995). For this reason, programs must concentrate on participants making MSGs through EFL gains, or scale score improvements, for the time period they are active in the program in order to ensure continued funding. Many student-level factors exacerbate the problem of attrition (Miller, et al., 2011), and thus contribute to the lack of classroom performance in the ABE setting; however, there are other student-level factors that have long been discussed by adult educators and administrators as factors that help students persist in programs and make educational gains. Student persistence, or Grit, and perceived social support are factors mentioned extensively by practitioners in the adult education field, but there is little empirical research into their actual effectiveness, particularly as it relates to Adult Basic Education. The purpose of this cross-sectional regression study is to investigate the relationship between Grit, perceived social support, and scale score change in the Adult Basic Education General Education Diploma classroom in Georgia. This study fills a need for increased research in the field of Adult Basic Education in terms of understanding some of the student-level factors that impact educational gains. The information gathered in this study will be particularly useful to ABE program administrators and teachers working in ABE programs to impact practice; if found to be predictive of student success in the classroom, classroom interventions designed to help students improve their level of Grit and build better systems of social support can be incorporated into instruction. These interventions could provide a cost-effective way for programs to affect educational gains while striving to meet federally mandated goals and ensure continued funding for their programs.