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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Dennis Brennan

First Committee Member

Michael Elium

Second Committee Member

Evia Moore

Third Committee Member

Antonio Serna


This study investigated the perceptions that fourth grade African American students have of their school experience and explored whether there was a connection between their perceptions of school and academic performance, as measured by the California Standards Test. The students in the study either scored at the proficient or advanced level on the test or scored below proficient. Students who were in Special Education or who had disciplinary problems were excluded from the study. Students were interviewed at their school and asked questions related to school climate, perception of teachers, perception of administrators, and grade to grade perceptions. Results of the study indicated that the students perceived their school as a positive place where they felt valued and respected and came to learn. They perceived the adults as caring and felt positive about their teacher and administrators. In addition, there was no negative shift in grade to grade perception except for second grade. This was true whether students performed at the proficient or non proficient level. It was also true without regards to gender. In spite of the positive perceptions these students have of their school, their academic performance did not improve. Students articulated that they wanted more of a personal connection with their teachers and wanted to see more of their administrators. Based on the findings of the study, suggestions to address issues students expressed in their interviews include building personal relationships between students and teachers, increasing the visibility of administrators on campus, utilizing a variety of instructional strategies to engage students and to connect lessons to real life situations, implementing learning programs beyond the school day, and organizing a mentoring program.





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