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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

Delores McNair

First Committee Member

Lynn Beck

Second Committee Member

Antonio Serna

Third Committee Member

Tyrone Howard


African American students have been suffering from academic failure for years. Various politicians, educators, legislators and government officials have been plagued with finding ways to solve this growing concern. Currently, there is limited research that gives African American high school students the opportunity to converse about the kinds of practices and strategies that will promote their academic progress. Despite past historical devastations like racism, inferior treatment and segregation as well as the dismal statistics that may imply (may be interpreted by some) that Blacks are not as intelligent and as their White counterparts, there are some African American students who are able to articulate their feelings and beliefs about what strategies and practices that help them to maintain success in the classroom. The findings of this study add to the current literature by providing African American high school students the opportunities to communicate their perceptions about the academic process and ways that will promote their achievement. This study utilized a qualitative approach from the perspective of Critical Race Theory; this study took place at one high school in California. Ten participants were interviewed over a period of three months at Rawlings High School (identified by pseudonym). Those interviews were then transcribed, analyzed and categorized by themes. Study findings suggest (1) African American students who are successful in school take full ownership and responsibility for their education; they do not place blame on their teachers or the educational system, (2) Black students want their teachers to have high expectations of them, want teachers to be accessible and available to them, want teachers to be friendly and communicable with them, (3) the research participants know what quality teachers are and note them to be patient, enthusiastic, supportive and who make learning applicable to the real-world, and (4) that most students have never been mistreated by a teacher nor have any bad experiences to share with regard to their race; the few that have encountered acts of discrimination use those experiences to motivate them to be successful.





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