Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Bordes Henry-Saturne

Second Advisor

Jay Brand

Third Advisor

Donovan Ross



A significant challenge confronting Seventh-day Adventist schools is declining enrollment, with schools in the North America Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church either closing or experiencing a substantial reduction in enrollment over the years. The purpose of this study is to identify the perceived factors influencing enrollment within the Allegheny East Conference school system, ultimately explaining the enrollment shift from 1277 students to 635 students over a twenty-year period within the Allegheny East Conference school system. The study also determined if there are significant differences in perceptions of the importance of these observed enrollment-related factors among participants who hold leadership positions (principals, superintendents, board members, and pastors), individuals who work under leaders (teachers), and ‘consumers’ of Allegheny East Conference educational services (parents and alumni). Additionally, this study examined any differences in perceptions of these factors among participants based on their year(s) of affiliation with the Allegheny East Conference school system.


The research design selected for this study is a quantitative approach. A quantitative approach investigates a social phenomenon, utilizing numerical and statistical data. This research method analyzes the data to identify relationships and trends (Watson, 2015). To conduct this quantitative study, a survey questionnaire was distributed to the participants. The survey questions were used to identify which of the presented factors, based on the participants’ perceptions, were responsible for the decline in enrollment in the Allegheny East Conference school system. The factors the participants could choose from were leadership, curriculum, educational cost, lack of diversity, other school alternatives (private, charter, and public school), facility, lack of resources, teachers, lack of church support, not a priority, and others. Participants rated each factor based on their perception of what they believed contributed to the decline in enrollment. Participants were able to provide a rating between zero and four for what they believed were determining factors that led to the decline in enrollment (0 = not applicable, 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = agree, 4 = strongly agree).


The study's findings revealed that stakeholders perceive resources as the primary factor influencing shifts in enrollment in the Allegheny East Conference school system. Leadership and tuition costs were equally identified as the second most influential factors. The third factor believed to contribute to enrollment shifts is the school's curriculum. Following closely as the fourth factor is the condition of the school buildings. Teachers were recognized as the fifth factor impacting enrollment, while the support from churches ranked sixth. Parents' prioritization of a Seventh-day Adventist education for their child(ren) emerged as the seventh factor influencing enrollment shifts. Eighth on the list, according to stakeholders, is parents' ability to choose from various school options. Lastly, racial diversity was perceived as the least influential factor leading to shifts in enrollment. A multivariate test (Wilks’ Lambda) evaluated any differences in perceptions of the importance of factors associated with enrollment decline in the Allegheny East Conference school system among leaders (principals, superintendents, board members, pastors), teachers, and education ‘consumers’ (parents, alumni). Although this multivariate test reached nominal significance (p < 0.05), among the individual factors, only ‘quality of teachers’ showed significance (p < 0.05), with mean importance ratings of 3.89, 4.21 and 4.37, respectively (i.e., leaders’ perceptions of the importance of teachers were lower than those of parents and alumni). Another multivariate test (Wilks’ Lambda) conducted to examine possible differences in perceptions of the importance of those factors related to enrollment decline, based on the year(s) participants became affiliated with the Allegheny East Conference school system, reached significance (p = 0.001). Aggregating affiliation year into seven subcategories to achieve balanced groups and evaluating these subcategory groups as an independent variable, with the factors related to enrollment decline as dependent variable’s, found significant differences in perceived importance for racial diversity (p < 0.05), school choice (p < 0.01), and quality of teachers (p < 0.01).


Based on the results of this study, it can be stated that the participants in the study believe that resources, or the lack thereof, are the main factors that impact enrollment in the Allegheny East Conference school system. Other strong factors that impact enrollment include leadership, tuition cost, curriculum, condition of the facility, and the quality of the teachers. Racial diversity was perceived to not have any impact on enrollment. A possible difference was found – in perceptions of the ‘quality of teachers’ factor related to enrollment decline – among leaders, teachers, and ‘consumers’ of education; furthermore, some differences emerged in the perceived importance of factors related to enrollment decline due to the years when affiliated with the Allegheny East Conference school system.

Subject Area

School enrollment; Seventh-day Adventist schools; Allegheny East Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. North American Division. Columbia Union Conference. Allegheny East Conference