First Advisor

Vogel, Linda R.

Document Type


Date Created



Teen pregnancy has been heralded as a social issue that affects families for generations. While recent research has shown the long-term effects are not as devastating as once predicted, more than 40 years after the passage of Title IX, legislation mandating equal educational opportunities for pregnant and parenting teens, only 50% of teen parents graduate high school, lagging far behind their non-parenting peers. Additionally, most of the research on this at-risk population comes from the social science field rather than the educational arena, leaving a research gap on the educational opportunities teen parents receive from within the field of education itself. The purpose of this study was to close the research gap and answer the following central question: What factors contribute to teen mothers’ educational resiliency? Additionally, three sub-questions were asked: Q1 What factors of the various school environments encourage motivation and support resiliency in teen mothers? Q2 What are the teen mothers’ perceptions of stigma within the various educational settings? Q3 What are teen mothers’ perceptions of the opportunities and support services available in each educational setting? This qualitative case study examined six parenting teen mothers attending three different educational settings, a young parent program, an alternative school, and a traditional school, to discover what factors contributed to their educational resiliency and helped them graduate from high school. The portraiture method was used to create life stories and their voices resonate throughout the study to paint a portrait of the struggles and triumphs they faced as they navigated life as a high school mother. Five themes emerged, struggle, support, hope, perseverance, and transformation. An in-depth look at how these themes played into their educational resiliency is explored and several implications for working with pregnant and parenting teens are discussed. Strategies for educators and policymakers to better meet the needs of this at-risk population, increase their graduation rates, and the importance of reorienting teen pregnancy and parenthood as an educational issue rather than a social issue are also explored.

Abstract Format



Resilience (Personality trait); Teenage mothers; Teenage pregnancy


173 pages

Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by author.