African-American Male Student Perceptions about Factors Related to Why Black Boys Drop out of Secondary School

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African-American Male Student Perceptions about Factors Related to Why Black Boys Drop out of Secondary School
Edwards, Anntwanique Devonne
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (203 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Educational Leadership
Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education
Committee Chair:
Oliver, Bernard
Committee Members:
Eldridge, Linda
Parker, Woodroe Max
Mccray, Erica Djwan
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Academic achievement ( jstor )
African Americans ( jstor )
Educational research ( jstor )
High school students ( jstor )
High schools ( jstor )
Minority group students ( jstor )
School dropouts ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Students ( jstor )
Teachers ( jstor )
Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
achievement -- achievement-gap -- african-american -- black
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
Educational Leadership thesis, Ph.D.


Dropping out of school has serious social and economic consequences for our society.  The dropout rate is overwhelmingly represented by African-American male students. While educational literature emphasizes an achievement gap between Black and White students and provides some suggestions for reform, limited attention is given to student voice.  This study examines African-American male student perceptions about factors related to dropping out of secondary school.  The researcher conducted a pilot study, interviewing several Black male students about factors related to decisions to drop out of secondary school. Interview responses and review of literature were used to create a 42-item survey instrument.  Perceptions of African-American male students enrolled in middle and high schools, grades 6-12, from a north central Florida school district (N = 261) were examined.  Students self-reported demographic information and gave responses to questions related to teachers, school curriculum, family, peers, and personal experiences.  In an effort to provide further insight to the research, students were given freedom to share thoughts about other factors that may impact decisions to drop out of school. Responses were coded and thematic analysis was used to determine common themes among replies. Pearson Correlation Coefficients were computed to identify relationships between variables perceived as most related to dropping out of school.  Similar to the body of literature on school dropout, findings from this study indicate student-teacher relationships, family involvement and peer interactions are significant factors related to Black boys’ decisions to drop out of school.  Implications of findings for future research on school reform and educational practice is discussed. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2012.
General Note:
Adviser: Oliver, Bernard.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Anntwanique D Edwards.

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University of Florida
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Copyright Anntwanique D Edwards. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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870333628 ( OCLC )
LD1780 2012 ( lcc )


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2 2012 Anntwanique DeVonne Edwards


3 To my mother, Dr. Beverly Edwards, whose example, unconditional love and unmerited patience have p ushed me to excel; my father Jeffrey Edwards, whose fight with MS has taught me to live through every adversity; a nd all who supported my continual pursuit of education, de sire for life long learning, leadership, and passion for helping future gener ation s attain academic success. Your support made me persevere.


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank God for His lea dership, direction and support. I thank my mother for her vo cabulary. She taught me and my sisters that things may be difficult, but never impossible. I am forever grateful for knowing the difference because that lesson was definitely needed during this process. I am extremely appreciative of the mentoring and superb scholarship provided by my chairperson Dr. Bernard Oliver and members of my supervisory committee Dr. Linda Eldridge, Dr. Erica McCray, and Dr. Woodrow Max Parker. Without them I could not h ave finished the last leg of this race. I appreciate them allowing me to experience a successful ending. I would be remiss to not thank other collegiate faculty/staff who were significant in supporting me throughout this process: Dr. Michael Bowie, Dr. James Doud, Dr. Diane Archer Banks and Angela Rowe. T hanks for not giving up on me. Also, t he knowledge offered through UF Libraries and graduate editorial office staff was unparallel ed. I have a heart of gratitude for the listening ears of Anita Edwards, Sonya Savage, & Lorenzo Savage II who heard more a bout th is process than anyone and responded with encouragement and suggestions, as well as sweets, exercise, and/or prayer to combat stress. The encouragement given by my family, friends, peer graduate students, fellow school administrators, co workers, s piritual leaders, church family, and body of Christ will never be forgotten. Their g enerous support and assistance encouraged me to complete this journey. And of course, without the p articipants in this study, all else would be moot.


5 TABLE OF CONTENT S page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 7 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 9 LIST OF OBJECTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 10 LIST OF TERMS ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 11 ABST R ACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 13 CHAPTER 1 THE PERVASIVE ISSUE OF BLACK MALES DROPPING OUT OF SCHOOL ..... 15 Accessing Student Voice to Understand Issues ................................ ..................... 17 Sta te and District Level Policy Influence ................................ ................................ 20 Problem Statement ................................ ................................ ................................ 23 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................ 25 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ........................... 27 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 39 Historical Implications for Schooling African American Ch ildren ............................. 43 Continued History: Overrepresentation of Black Males in Special Education ........ 46 Poverty and Low Socio Economic Status ................................ ............................... 48 Family Background and Parental Involvement ................................ ........................ 53 Teacher Expectations and Readiness ................................ ................................ .... 60 African Identity ................................ ................................ ..... 67 ........... 71 Student Voice/Perceptions ................................ ................................ ...................... 76 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 78 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 80 Resear ch Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 80 Sample/Setting ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 81 Instrumentation Development ................................ ................................ ................. 84 Proce dures ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 85 Limitations of Study ................................ ................................ ................................ 87


6 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 92 The Voice of Our Bl ack Boys ................................ ................................ .................. 92 Demographic Characteristics of Survey Participants ................................ .............. 92 Examining Relationships of Factors Related to Drop Out ................................ ....... 97 The Viewpoint of Black Boys on Student Teacher Relationships ................... 100 How Black Males View School Curriculum in Relation to Dropping Out ......... 103 How the Black Family is Related to Boys Dropping Out of School ................. 106 Personal Experiences of Black Males in Terms of Decisions to Dro p Out ..... 109 Regression Analysis ................................ ................................ ............................. 111 Open Ended Survey Questions Summarized ................................ ....................... 113 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 114 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 123 Student Characteristics ................................ ................................ ......................... 123 School Experiences ................................ ................................ .............................. 125 Family Experiences ................................ ................................ .............................. 128 Personal Experiences ................................ ................................ ........................... 130 Changing the Apex: Deciding to Remain in School and Earn a Diploma .............. 131 Implications for Research ................................ ................................ ............... 134 Implications for Pract ice ................................ ................................ ................. 136 School Experiences (Teacher Leaders and School Guidance Programs) 137 Personal Experiences (Community Influence) ................................ ......... 138 Family Experiences (Parent Education and Communication) .................. 139 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT FOR PILOT PARTICIPANTS ................................ ......... 141 B INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR PILOT PARTICIPANTS ................................ ..... 143 C TRANSCRIPTION OF INTERVIEWS WITH PILOT PARTICIPANTS ................... 144 D PERCEPTIONS HELD BY PILOT STUDY PARTICIPANTS ................................ 163 E DESCRIPTIVE DATA REGARDING PILOT STUDY PARTICIPANTS ................. 175 F SUMMARY OF RESULTS FROM PILOT STUDY INTERVIEWS ......................... 176 G OPT OUT FORM FOR SURVEY PARTICIPANTS ................................ ............... 181 H SURVEY INSTRUMENT ................................ ................................ ....................... 183 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 190 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 202


7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Likert scales used in survey instrument ................................ .............................. 91 4 1 Frequency of responses for age of participants (n=261) ................................ .. 1 15 4 2 Frequency of responses for grade level of participants (n=261) ....................... 115 4 3 Frequency of responses for self reported unweighted grade point average of participants (n=261) ................................ ................................ .......................... 115 4 4 .............. 116 4 5 Frequency of responses for highest level of educati on completed by ................................ ................................ .......... 116 4 6 Frequency of responses for highest level of education completed by ................................ ................................ ............. 116 4 7 Frequency of responses for involvement in extracurricular activities (n=259) .. 117 4 8 Frequency of responses for descriptive statistics of demographic variables (n= 261) ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 117 4 9 Most strongly correlated variables significant to age demographic ................... 118 4 10 Most strongly correlated variables signifi cant to grade level demographic ....... 118 4 11 Most strongly correlated variables significant to grade point average demographic ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 118 4 1 2 ....... 119 4 13 Most strongly correlated variables significant with highest level of education er demographic ................................ ................... 119 4 14 Most strongly correlated variables significant with highest level of education ................................ ..................... 119 4 15 Most strongly correlated variables significant with involved in extracurricular activities demographic ................................ ................................ ...................... 119 4 16 Top ten correlated variables with most significant relati onships (p = .000) ....... 120 4 17 Factors that can be used to predict the most significant relationships .............. 120 4 18 Proportion of variance in outcomes related to failing classes ........................... 121


8 4 19 Proportion of variance in outcomes related to student motivation .................... 121 4 20 Proport ion of variance in outcomes related to level of effort ............................. 122 4 21 Proportion of variance in outcomes related to importance of school ................ 122 E 1 Number of disciplinary referrals received by pilot study participants (2004 2008) ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 175 E 2 2008) ....... 175 E 3 FCAT scores & achievement levels for pilot study participants: (06 07 vs. 07 08) ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 175


9 LIST OF FIGURE S Figure page 1 1 The Apex Model Framework for studying systematic factors that impact school related decisions of secondary students. ................................ ................ 38


10 LIST OF OBJECTS Object page 4 1 Pearson correlation of variables (.xlsx 101kb) ................................ ................. 120


11 LIST OF TERM S Academic Achievement Outcomes related to a cademic goals developed by the school which should be attained by the student in several areas, including: M astering individual skills acquiring knowledge overall scores that result from the administration of st andardized tests, such as the FCAT, SAT or ACT cumulative grades personal attitude Academic Goals P ersonal g oals related to achieveme nt are specified by the student. May be related to future plans, job interests, overall expectations for school performance, social emotional well being, etc. Academic Performance M easured by academic grades given on report cards or overall grade point av erage, and standardized test score on SAT or ACT. Achievement Motivation realistically set in an academic environment, receive feedback, or experience a sense of accomplishment; can be referred to as intri nsic or extrinsic African American/ Black A ny student who has self identified as Black Non Hispanic on the school registration form. The word Black is interchangeable with African American for the purposes of this study. At Risk Students Students classif ied by poor attendance, high number of discipline referrals, low socio economic status, free and reduced lunch status, minority status, failing grades, overall grade point average below 2.0, classification in the exceptional student education program (ESE), non involvement in extracurricular activities and /or living in a single parent household. Cumulative Grade T he average of student grades for each subject across freshman, sophomore, and junior year. Efficacy Level of productivity; power to produ ce intended results or effects Engagement Participation in school related activities


12 Assessment Test (FCAT) The FCAT is the foundation for statewide educational student knowledge and understanding of reading, writing, science and mathematics content as described in the Sunshine State Standards (FLDOE, 2007). High School Dropout A student who withdraws from school for any of several reasons cited in statute without transferring t o another school, home education program, or adult education program. Dropout withdrawal reasons include voluntary withdrawal from school prior to graduation (e.g. after passing the age of compulsory attendance); failure to meet attendance requirements du e to excessive absenteeism; discontinuance of attendance with whereabouts unknown; failure to enter/attend school as expected after previously registered; and certain other reasons. The dropout rate is calculated and reported for all children in grades 9 (FLDOE 2007). High School Dropout Rate A calculation of all children grades 9 12 who drop out of school (FLDOE, 2007). High School Graduate P erson completing minimum state requirements to receive a high school diploma High S chool Graduation Rate Percentage of students who graduate within four years of their first enrollment in ninth grade (FLDOE, 2007). Stereotype Threat A threat that is imposed upon a member of a group that begins to believe and apply the negative character istics connected to their group. Student Voice Student perspectives shared in educational research Success Meeting at least minimum requirements for high school graduation. Sunshine State Standards (SSS) The Standards are skills and competencies that Fl orida students should be able to learn from an early age, as defined by practicing classroom teachers, educational specialists, business people, and concerned citizens from Florida (FLDOE, 2007)


13 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Schoo l of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE STUDENT PERCEPTIONS ABOUT FACTORS RELATED TO WHY BLACK BOYS DROP OUT OF SECONDARY SCHOOL By Anntwanique DeVonne Edwards December 20 12 Chair: Bernard Oliver Major: Educational Leadership African American male rates. Dropping out of school has serious social and economic consequences for our society. The dropout rate is overwhelmingly represented by African American male students, but limited attention is given to student voice. This study examines African American male student perceptions about factors related to dropping out of secondary school. The researcher conducted a pilot study and used interview responses of Black male students and literature about dropping out to create a 42 item survey instrument. Perceptions of African American male students enrolled in middle and high schools, grades 6 12, from a north central Florida school district ( N = 261) were examined. Demographic information and responses to questions related to teachers, school curriculum, family, peers, and personal experiences were gathered to add to the body of research. P earson Correlation Coefficients were computed to identify relationships between variables perceived as most related to dropping out of school. Similar to the body of literature on school dropout, findings from this study indicate student teacher


14 relations hips, family involvement and peer interactions are significant factors related to Black on school reform and educational practice is discussed.


15 CHAPTER 1 THE PERVASIVE I SSUE OF BLACK MALES DROPPING OUT OF SCHOOL rates of student dropout s negatively impact the economic growth of our country. The economy suffers each time a student fails t o complete high school. Thorstensen (2004) postulates an estimated $944 billion tax revenue loss by males ages 25 34 who did not complete high school, with an additional $24 billion loss resulting from increased costs in public welfare and crime connected with those students who fail to complete school. The population of students who dropout is comprised of some of the fastest growing ethnicities and largest minority populations in the United States : African Americans and Hispanics. The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau re ports a total of 38.9 million African A merican people living in North America representing more than 13% of the total population T he growth of these minority groups coupled with the increasing rates of non completion of secondary education lea ds to great economic concern. D ropouts characterize alarmingly high proportions of persons who become arrested, incarcerated, drug addicted, living in poverty, unemployed, unhealthy, unwed parents, divorced, etc ( Alliance for Excellent Education, 2010; Harlow 2003 ) Our society pays significant costs for crime prevention, prosecution, rehabilitative and other social services, he alth care, and welfare. The negative economic and social consequences associated with Black male students dropping out of sch oo l enunciate the need for discussions about educational reform in the United States. African American students should not have to endure the hardships of lifelong servitude that was sentenced to their forefathers in 1641 when a Virginia court made a dist inction between Black and White indentured servants (Schneider & Schneider, 2001).


16 National data sources identify minorities and students of low socioeconomic status and/or those who have learning disabilities to be most likely to drop out of school nor & Fernandez, 2006; Thurlow, Sinclair, & Johnson, 2001) Because minorities have such high rates of dropout when compared to their peers, research on the achievement gap has become commonplace Historical accounts of the educational system reveal that a persistent achievement gap existed more than fif ty years ago between Black and White students. The disparity in education resulted from a raci ally segregated country. In 1954, t facilities are inherently in their decision regarding Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. stein, 2004, p.13). The ruling pro mpted educational and socia l reform in the United States. The Alliance for Excellent Education (2011) emphasizes the promise for equal education among Blacks has not been met and minority students remain disenfranchised by a lack of rigorous curriculum pr ovided for their advancement. Within the last decade, federal legislation has attempted to ensure that gaps in achievement between races are minimized and that all students have equal opportunities for educational success. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 attempts to uphold the decision of Brown vs. the Board, where schools are held accountable for that all children have a fair, equal, a nd significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education and reach, at a minim um, proficiency on challenging s


17 (U.S. Department of E ducation, 2007). Despite federal requirements in bot and the new millennium, African American students continue to lag behind their peers. Paige & Whitty (2010) argue closing the Black White achievement gap is relevant for bringing for th social justice related to obtaining an equal education a nd penetrating barriers that have existed since slavery However, Jenkins (2009 ) s uggests that laws which prohibited others from teaching Blacks to read were alleviated less than 1 50 years ago, compared to higher education being offered in American for 30 0 years, has set a standard for oppression and created a substantial deficit for Blacks to overcome. Practitioners have addressed the dropout phenomena by instituting a variety of strategies D ropout prevention measures include teacher readiness programs and professional development, after school programs, tutorial opportunities for youth, early education and literacy interventions, school community initiatives, etc. ( Darling Hammond, 2007; Ladson Billings, 2009; Rothstein, 2004; Rumberger, 2001; and Schar gel & Smink, 2001) However, despite best practices, African Amer ican males continue to drop out of school. Dynarski (2000) reviewed the findings of three national evaluations of dropout prevention programs and found most did not improve rates of droppin g out and only minimal improvements were evidenced, thus, she contends that we continue to seek new approaches to combat the dropout issue. Because Black boys remain at risk for school dropout, their perspectives regarding what factors are related to drop out decisions are needed. Accessing Student Voice to Un d erstand Issues It has only been over the past fifteen years that a considerable presence of students can be denoted in educational research. Some researchers have embraced an effort to reposition stu


18 is premised on the following convictions: that young people have unique perspectives on learning, teaching, and schooling; that their insights warrant not only the attention but also the re sponses of adults; and that they should be afforded opportunities to actively shape their education (Cook Sather, 2006, p. 359). Thus far studies about students who drop out widely ref lect adult perspectives. There is limited re s earch f rom those w ho ar e referred to as both at risk and dropouts Black males Steinberg and McCray (2012) underscore that understanding education f r o m the viewpoint of students helps us see how to engage students in the learning process. re of themselves, their own thoughts and feelings, and their relationships with others, researchers interested in this age group g & McCray, 2012, p. 2) As we attempt t o identify what factors contr ibute to African American to drop out of school understanding their viewpoint s eems invaluable. While taking time to hear the voices of seventy four students in focus groups, De Fur & Korinek (2010) found all students desire the chance to d iscuss their school proces s and s hare views on education As a result, they surmised that dialogue with students better situates us to motivate and encourage students, provide meaningful instru ction, carefully select qualified quality teachers, understand how to monitor student progress, and build strong adult student relationships. Knowing the extent to which students feel engaged and a sense of belonging in schools can be best determined from spe aking with students, then better decisions can be made about the approaches for change (Certo, Cauley, & Chafin,


19 2003). Students are capable of helping us identify effective strategies if we g ive them an opportunity to speak as credible stakeholders i n the education process. With over five million young Black boys living in the United States, only 42% of those who enter ninth grade graduate (Sen, 2006). Less than 50% African American males earn a high school diploma in four years ( H olzman 2006). Graduation rate data gathered from all reporting states in the U.S. indicate Black male students are consistently less likely to meet graduation requirements in compari son to their male peers (NCES, 2009). The National Center for Education Statistics (2007) reports only 87.6% of 18 24 year olds not enrolled in high school recei ved their diploma or equi valency credential Therefore, by the a ge of 24, nearly 15% of African American males still had not earned any type of credential exemplifyi ng completion of s econdary school. High r ates of academic failure among Black male students have a profound impact on educational institutions at the nati onal, state, and local levels. Questions have been raised about innate genetic ability, institutiona l racism, gender differences, curriculum development, teaching practices, learning styles, socio economic concerns, educational leadership, etc. (Boykin & Bailey, 2000; Darling Hammond, 1997; Friere, 2009; Landsman, 2004; Noguera, 2008; and Rothstein, 2004 ) These questions have a direct effect on schooling practices at multiple levels. For instance, dropout rates have prompted individual states to redesign standardized assessments as an effort to ensure student achievement and academic proficiency for ch il dren of every race and gender (Smith, 2005; U.S. Department of Education, 2010; and Wang, Beckett, & Brown, 2006 )


20 such as Florida, are faced with significantly high dropo ut rates and are so strongly affe cted by students dropping out of school that the state is deemed to be in crisis. State and District Level Policy Influence A ccording to the Florida Department of Education, the state experienced a steady decrease in the dr opout rates from 2000 2004, but the rates began to increase slightly for the next three years (Smith, 2007) The dropout percentages among Black s (35.3%) in the state of Florida were approximately equivalent to their White counterparts (35.4%) in 2006 200 7 (FLDOE). Because the percentage of White persons who resided in Florida (79.8%) was much higher, White students appeared to make up a greater portion of dropouts. However, dropout rates for White students was less than minority students; 2.4% versus 4. 7% in 2006 07 (Smith, 2007). Dropout rates are highest among African American students although they make up only 15.9% of more than 18 200 8). Florida is among five states (includ ing Georgia, South Carolina, New Mexico, and Nevada) that are deemed to be in a statewide crisis because of the great number of schools having severe dropout rates within its border. Balfanz refers to Florida schools e Florida is one of the largest states in America, labor force ( Balfanz, et al. 2009). As Florida incorporates graduation rates as a component of overall school grades f or state assessments, the stakes increase, placing more stress upon public schools to graduate their students. Each school district will be expected to meet state criteria for success, thus needing to enhance graduation rates, diminishing the number of st udents who drop out of school prior to earning a high school diploma.


21 School di stricts such as the one participating in this study, that have repetitively schools meet its stat (AYP), will be greatly impacted. Adequate Yearly Progress scores reflect how much growth a student has made from year to year. African American males tend to not make AYP, especially in scho ol districts characterized by an overwhelming number of non minority and low income students. The students participating in this study live in a county where n early 74% of 241,364 residents are characterized as White persons and the mean household income is approximately $38K (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). A quick look at district grades may cause some to presume that most students in the county fair well academically, however, analyzing the data reveals failure of specific groups to make appropriate learnin g gains. Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) data for this county r eflect specific populations generally d o not meet AYP. Th ose populations include African Americans, Hispanics, males, students with free and reduced lunch status, students with d isabilities, and students who are English Language Learners (ELL). These groups characterize the highest rates of poor performance/yearly progress in reading and math on the state standardized test, but comprise on ly a small portion of county In 2008, Black s only accounted languages other than English spoken at home, 11.5% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). T he school d istrict participating in this study is located i n north central Florida ; the Black n on Hispanic 9 th 12 th grade student dropout rates equal 9%, surpassing all other ethnicities. Similarly in 2004 2005, 45.3% of Black students fulfilled requirements for a


22 standard diploma in four years versus 76.9% of their White counterparts. I n the fall of 2005, nearly half of the total number o f students enrolled in high school grades 9 12, were male (4,644). Of those 896 (46%) were seniors. However, only 30% of the seniors were identified as Black Most recent reports reflect Black students as not meeting math or reading proficiency, wherein White students met proficiency on both categories as measured through state standardized testing (FCAT) from schoo l years 2003 2010 (FLDOE, 2012) The participating schoo l district is comprised of 2 4 elementary, 8 middle, and 6 high schools and 1 combination middle/high school Also, the school district has 7 center schools w ith alternative programs. Two of its high schools are located in towns outside the city limits a nd have small minority populations, where student teacher ratios are presumed to be small. A combination middle/high school located within the school district was selected as a pilot for this study because it reflects the trend presented, in wh ich African American students continue to drop out of school at alarming rates despite the overall impeccable rating of the county in relation to the overall district performance grade by the state. The middle/high school selected for the purpose of the pilot study is located in a town of approximately 1,400 persons with a median income of $26, 008 (National Relocation, 2009). In 2004 2005, 34.3 % of the sch ool was comprised of Black students (77 females and 113 males) Yet, only 72% of the Black seniors graduated that year. The previous year, only 57.7% graduated and a pproximately half of the students received a high school diploma in 2007 the year nearest the start of the pilot study The 2007 2008 academic school year began with only thirty five students havin g the


23 appropriate seniors time with their cohort Of those, only four we re Black males Such rates prompted several questions to be explored within this study : What academic/instructiona l factors are perceived to be related to Black males drop ping out of school ? What social/emotional factors are perceived to be related to Black male s dropping out of school ? What motivational factors ar e perceived to be related to Black males dropping out of school ? How is th e role of the family perceived as a factor related to B lack males dropping out of school? How are peer groups perceived as factors relating to Black males dropping out of school? The local requirements for graduation are driven by state standards and guidelines but many African American males are dropping out of school and not earning high school diplomas. African American male students residing in the participating school district have a higher likelihood of non completion in their co unty than White peers Black boys have a higher likelihood to drop out of school than White peers in the same county, state, and count r y which they reside. This combined with results from the pilot study, led to further investigation of the research que stions among students attending other secondary schools within the district using quantitatively measured surveys. Problem Statement P roponents of educational reform in the United States have not been able to eradicate the dropout phenomena especially f or African American male students Some may think students who drop out of school fail their famil y, community and self, but we too


24 are failing them. By not offering a solution, we leave our youth uneducated and disadvantaged. As we seek additional effo rts to challenge school dropout out, we should consider that much of the research regarding Black males dropping out of school is taken from adult perspectives. Mitra (2004) asserts that student voice efforts positively influence youth development outcome s, granting them a role in making decisions that impact them as the target population. If given safe environments to shar e feedback, most students will want to share ( DeFur & Korinek, 2010). Typically, when students are asked about factors associated with dropping out, the populations surveyed are person s who have already dropped out of school. Although the voice of experience is important, many student s characterized as at risk simply because of their skin color are given no platform to discuss concerns. Not only is the voice of Black males limited in educational research, it often skips those who are still enrolled in school. African American students attending sec ondary school are likely to have opinions about the dreadful dropout rate that could victimize them meaningful ways in their school experience cannot be ignored as we s eek to improve The guiding question for this proposed study is: What factors do African American male students believe are related to why Black boys drop out of secondary school ? The study will investig ate perceptions held by African American males in relation to factors described within the context of teachers, school/curriculum, family, peers, and personal experiences All Black male students were invit ed to participate whether deemed


25 At risk students are classified by poor attendance, high number of discipline referrals, low socio ec onomic status, free and reduced price lunch status, minority status, failing grades, overall grade point average below 2.0, classification in the except ional student education program (ESE) non involvement in extracurricular activities, and li ving in a single parent household The study seeks to discover student perceptions associated with primary factors for Black males dropping out of school. Althoug h there is extensive literature regarding the Black White achievement gap, limited studies are available utilizing student perceptions of these phenomena in various fields provides a strong basis for e concepts. Student perceptions relate to their feelings, thoughts, and beliefs about themselves. Marsh and (1985) research on self concept through their experiences, personal i nterpretations of their environment, and then Thus, the viewpoint of the African American male st udent is a strong reference for exploring decisions made by African American males to drop out of school. Cook Sa ther (2002) emphasizes that no requirement exists, requiring researchers to follow the sta tus quo and employ thinking from adult only perspectives; she asserts supporting student voice literature will encourage us to accept the legitimate perspectives of students In t his regard, the current study seeks to address the needs of African American male students by first listening to their voice as it relates to the dropout phenomena Significance of the Study The academic success of all students is essentia l to the progress of our society. Increasing levels of dropout s among any demographic background lessens the


26 economic strength of our country. The global economy is placing greater demands on its workforce, requiring higher education and advanced skills of those entering the workforce. Employers are seeking competent, knowledgeable employees to hire within organizations, emphasizing the importance of graduating students from secondary and higher education institutions. However, many states with staggeri ng dropout rates also have high unemployment rates. Currently, unemployment rates in the United States are higher for men than women (6.5% versus 5.5% respectively ), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, who also report higher rates of unem ployme nt for Black s than White s (2009 ) Black males lag both in graduation rates and employment when compared to their peers in gender and ethnicity categories. Minority and low income students represent the greatest number of students who drop out of school i n the United States. Staples & Dodd (2009), report Florida is one of seventeen states that represent an astounding 70% of The educational infra structure. Florida is considered to be in an educational crisis because low graduation rates are a trend among many high schools throughout the state. Alarmingly, over 40% of the high schools in Florida have low graduation rates and approximately 70% of the school districts h ave at least one low graduation rate high school ( Balfanz, et al. 2009). In 2005 2006, over 300,000 students were en rolled in schools deemed as low graduation rate high schools, appro ximately one third were Black n on Hispanic stude nts. In that same year, less than 50% of Black s who received a high school diploma were employed; those who failed to earn a diploma had an employment rate of 21%. Failure to maintain employment reduces financial stability


27 within households and further d ebilitates an unemployed individual. Heightened academic performance by Black male students could yield better jobs and economic growth. The results have direct implications for African American culture and society at large. The face of education is beco ming more diverse each day. Teaching practices must support diversity of students found in classrooms. Teachers will need to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of students characterized by disabilities, low income, minority status, English Langu age Learners, etc. By sharing student perspectives regarding the dropout phenomenon, this study will aide in guiding future instructional practices and curriculum design. The study will add to the knowledge base abou t the academic needs of African Americ an males and may impact roles that teachers and support staff play in supporting them in educational settings. The study seeks to provide additional information that will help reduce the achievement gap and encourage academic success among African America n students. More specifically, the study may foster greater communication and kindred relations between faculty and students that allows students to see greater value in education. Theoretical Framework Researchers have attempted to locate which factors related to high rates of school dropout need to be altered to bring about academic success for all students. A theoretical framework is needed to understand how African American male students are affecte d by factors related to dropping out of school and h ow they perceive the relationship b etween Black boys and th ose factors Because students participating in this study are expected to share their perceptions regarding a continuum of factors that may interact within varying systems/environments, Bronfenbren ecological


28 approach for studying educational systems and processes was selected as the conceptual foundation for the study. Ecological theory calls for an understanding of multiple environments that influence learners so educational researchers are n ot maintaining status quo interpretations of social realities, but are open to constructing new meaning before making assumptions about student needs (Bronfenbrenner, 1976) Within the framework of ecological theory, the learner develops through a multil evel systemic process involving the influences of the individual, school, work, family, and community Bronfennbrenner (1976) espouses an ecology of education wherein a scientific study of two systems operate at two levels, relationships between learners and their surroundings (person environment) and interconnections between the environments themselves (environment environment) The investigation of person environment relationships emphasizes the dynamic between the student learner and his/her home, scho ol, community, peer group, neighborhood, church, etc., whereas exploration of environment environment relationships indicate studying how variables within the school). F or the purposes of this study, the ecological approach define s the micro system as secondary schoo ls where participants are enrolled The meso system would encompass interrelations between par and would branch out to an en v ironmental level consisting of government agencies, media and social networks, transportation, etc (exo system) Further expansion of systemic interactions leads to a more comprehensive system, the macro system. It includes economics,


29 politics, social and legal structures, etc. Each system gives value and meaning to the types of interactions that occur at every other level. Ecological theory describes learner s as those who are being disc overed In the context of this study, the ecological approach is use d as a conceptual foundation for developing a theoretical framework as a means for understanding student perceptions about factors related to Black boys dropping out of school. Through an ecological perspective, Black males are viewed as learners who are constantly able to change because they are influenced by evolving systems. Furthermore, consistent changes within the environment/ system could illicit new beh aviors from the learner, thus researchers must be willing to shift their thinking. The premise b ehind the ecological approach is that gaining a new understanding of student environment interactions is expected to help strengthen the body of research and help construct new meaning that provides greater understanding of social concerns (Bronfenbrenner, 1976) Bogenschneider (1996) proposes an extension of ecological theory by integrating risk focused prevention models and resiliency models in an effort to understand human development, arguing that we must identify risks and protective processes at the levels identified by Bronfenbrenner if we want to understand the development of students and guide future prevention practices. Similarly, Rumberger & Larson (1998 ) developed a conceptual framework for understanding student performance that highlighted th e interconnectivity of multiple factors that influence students: a c ontinuum exists between background (student characteristics) engagement (social and academic) and education al performance (educational stability, academic achievement, and educational a ttainment) ; each dimension (or environment) is fostered by connections with familial,


30 school and/or community student s have a r ange of outcomes available based upon their interactions with the systems that surround him. Their work has been applied in an effort to determine what can be done to address reasons for students dropping out of school (Rumberger, 2001). This study seeks to investigate the African American male student perceptions about facto rs related to Black boys dropping out of school as a means of understanding how systems influence those decisions. Therefore, a theoretic al framework for this study was adapted from the conceptual views of Bronfenbrenner and (1976 ) Bogenschneider (1996), and Rumberger & Larson (1998). In addition, review of several bodies of literature is used to help direct the framework. Three theoretical approaches have been selected to help understand the dropout phenomena: Achievement: Outcomes related to the a cademic performance exercised within the context of education; discussion of an achievement gap that persists between African American males and their peers ultimately revealing underachievement among Black students. Engagement: Participation in school r elated activities as determined my multi tiered societal factors including the quality of school relationships ; lessened participation by African American students regarding engaging behaviors. Student Voice: Student voice literature provides a basis for the need to hear from African American males themselves rather than adul ts. In addition, student voice research supports qualitative interview methods as used with the pilot study T he first approach described is achievement as it relates to success or other outcomes for student academic performance. Achievement is critically discussed in terms of the achievement g ap, a great divide in academic outcomes of African American students and their peers Disparities exist in student achievement between Black s and Whites that exemplify a disproportionately high number of African American males dropping out of school According to Smith, President of the Schott Foundation


31 ct, schools that enable African American boys to succeed. But, they are isolated, and there has been no national commitment to bring high quality education to all children (2004, p.2) Research related to the Black White achievement gap suggests multiple reasons for the variance. Som e suggest poverty status, peer influence, poor motivation, family structure, and lack of economic funding in schools as primary reasons for African American and Hispanic children lagging behind their peers. Jencks and Phillips (1998), state that even when these factors are controlled, the achievement differences remain significant. Educational research has identified the dropout phenomenon among African hundred years o f African American curricular experiences, what remains is the fact that Black students continue to struggle to gain access to a thinking curriculum that will Hammond, Willia mson, & Hyler, 2007, p. 292). Cooper (2000) summarizes that differing educational outcomes led to hard questions being asked about the links between student achievement and other factors. The literature emphasizes educational reform efforts and attempts to provide reasons for the underachievement of Black students (Bradley, 2007; Cooper & Jordan, 2003; Iceland, et al., 1999; Jencks, 1972; Rothstein, 2004; Rumberger, 2001; Schargel & Smink, 2001, and Smith, 2003). Multiple factors have been reviewed, as d eterminants of academic failure, in an attempt to find resolution to the looming problem. Chavous, et al. (2003) found that Black students can become disenfranchised in school due to feelings of alienation, which tend to lead to low feelings of academic


32 efficacy and thoughts about school importance, relevance, and attachment Conversely, Marsh, C haney, and Jones ( 2012) studied the high achievement performance of Black students who were able to remain resilient to the challenges presented in their environ ments. Although dropping out of school does not mean students were necessarily experiencing low achievement, exploring factors tied to dropout may help us consider interventions. This research does not seek to dev alue dropout prevention initiatives or s trategies already in place throughout the country (Bridgeland, Didulio, & Morrison, 2006; Myint, et al., 2008; Schargel, 2007; and Shargel, 2011), but we must consider why our Black male students are still dropping out of school. Conversations with stu den ts may help us understand why early education intervention and literacy strategies, after school programs, mentoring and tutoring initiatives, systemic renewal within schools, staff development and support for teachers increased collaboration with communi ty and businesses, and family support efforts have not managed to keep African American boys, as well as other minority and disadvantage d groups from making decisions to drop out of school. In order f or a student to engage in academic beh aviors in the present, [he] must therefore believe that future academic success is a goal that is important enough to the student and that their behaviors will lead to future academic success 2004) Thus, the second theoretical approach, student engagem ent, is an important concept underlining the framework for this study. S tudent engagement, focuses on the level of participation students have with school related activities. Bennett (2006) encourages researchers to attend to the attitudes and perception s held by students


33 about school experiences to foster school engagement. Jimerson, Campos, & Grief (2003) explored the construct and measurement of school engagement, determining school engagement is a multifaceted construct that includes three dimensions : a) Affective b) Behavioral student performance, such as participation in extracurricular activities c) Cognitive student perceptions held about self, school, teachers and others (i.e. self efficac y, level of motivation, encouragement by teachers, aspirations, etc ) Studying school engagement in relation to these measures is significant for this study. Research indicates for many African American youths, the most important factor in the developmen t and maintenance of positive attitudes toward school is located outside of (Bennett, 2006, p.198). Level of school engagement, as well as perceptions held by students, could be a result of student self concept. Singh, Chang, and Dik a (2010) found differences in self concept and school engagement while investigating psycho social constructs related to school achievement of Black and White students. Differences existed between the racial groups that foster a need to understand that st beliefs can impact their level of participation in school related activities. (1971) for racial identity includes fo u r stages: pre encounter, encounter, immersion emersion, and internalization. The stages a lmost resemble a continuum of acceptance and value of oneself as an African American, moving from devaluing self and only accepting Eurocentric views to becoming fully engaged, sati sfied, and secure as an African American How an African American male vie w s himself and what factors he associates with his identity may directly correlate to positive or negative outcomes with his schooling. For instance negative views of self may result


34 in similar negative behavior or lack of effort to succeed. Such behavi or is implied with stereotype threat. The term stereotype threat is defined as a threat that is imposed upon a member of a group that begins to believe and apply the negative characteristics connected to their group. The members of the group begin to fe ar being reduced to the negative characteristics that others have created about them and act accordingly. Steele (1997), who developed the term, declares that persons are not susceptible to the threat because of preexisting doubts about self, but rather b y their identification with the domain and concern they have about being stereotyped by it. Og bu (2004) further asserts that Black and cultural frame of reference. Collective identit y refers to how people identify themselves as a collective group ; however, it is based from external factors such as slavery. Their cultural frame of reference refers to the right way for that group to behave based upon their point of view or collective e xperience (Ogbu, 2004). Th e identity formation of African American men, as identified in the research, is very closely related to historical and societal practices toward this particular group. The implications may have pro found bearing on how an African American male student perceives his experience in education and should be recognized while reviewing data. Lastly, in discussions about education empowers students and provides us with more knowledge about learning experiences that can affect schooling practices (Certo, Cauley, & Chafin, 2003; Cook Sather, 2006; DeFur & Korinek, 2010; Doda & Knowles, 2008; Mitra, 2004; Steinberg & McCray, 2012). A ccording to Cook Sather (2 0 06),


35 st udents are being repositioned in educational research because there is a rekindling conviction that young people have unique perspectives on learning that must be heard in order to adequately rad ical form, calls for a cultural shift that opens up spaces and minds not only to the sound but also to the presence and power Sather, 2006 p. 363). Richardson and Gerlach (1980) conducted personal interviews with students in an attempt to find out why Black students were dropping out of school Their results indicate Black their inability to perceive education as a means to ensure more opportunities in the futur accumulating research evidence that as conditions conducive to learning in schools deteriorate through emphases on accountability, standards, measurement, and high stakes testing that increas ing numbers of students of colo r and those from urban, working class, and minority backgrounds are making active choices that school is not Student voice merely refers to student perceptions or student perspec tives. Acknowledging student voice in the educational research gives credence and power to students to share in the reform that directly affects them. Because the African American male voice appears to have been lost in the field of education and society as a whole, allowing his perceptions t o be heard empowers the African American male student in a manner that is often not seen. Construction of the theoretical framework was g uided by th e Black White achiev ement gap, concern for development of Black stude concept, and need


36 fo r more research regarding student voice The ecological approach further undergirds the direction of the framework. In the framework for this study The Apex Model, every student is viewed as an indiv idual who has unique fam ily, school, and p ersonal experience s Every experience has the potential to play a single or collective role in regards to Central to the framework are individual student characterist ics such as demograp hic variables, levels of student engagement, and educational achievement. The three other experi ential factors are placed on a continuum advertently or inadvertently impactin g the student. It is expected that as youth develop, they will develop their se lf concept, behaviors perceptions, and decision making skills /patterns from the connection between personal characteristics and three systems of experience s : 1. Family experiences characterized by parental involvements, discussions families have with stu dents about education, work ethic, etc. 2. School experiences student teacher relationships, curriculum, and tea cher characteristics. 3. P ersonal experiences may be described by the students affiliation with gangs, drugs, incarceration, family tragedy, being bullied, an d level of laziness or effort Again, the factors that may be found within each of the system s of experience s categories may be contained within their own trian gular cell or interrelated meaning the variables imp act each other and ultimat ely affect the student. Finally, students arrive at reach an apex or decision. For the purpose of this study that decision is dropping out of school. The Apex Model helps us explore the influences of various systems upon student decision making. It is offered as a way to refocus research on the multiple factors that aide in decisions to drop out of school while considering that commonalties among students can only be gathered if we seek their inv olvement African American


37 males have daily experiences t hat can alter the ir educational expecta tions We must identify what they have to say about factors that contribute to effect of dropout.


38 STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS (Demographic variables, academic and social engagement, and educational achievement) *Adapted from 3 theoretical frameworks : Boge nschneider (1996) Ecological Risk/Protective Theory 1 Bronfenbrenner (1976) Ecological Theory ( 1 Apex Model coincides with theory) Rumberg & Larson (1998) Conceptual Framework for Studying Student Educational Performance Figure 1 1. T h e Apex Model F ra mework for studying systematic factors that impact school related decisions of seco ndary students ( Developed by Edwards, A.D. 2012 ) SCHOOL EXPERIENCES (Teacher characte ristics, student teacher relationships and school curriculum) FAMILY EXPERINCES (Work eth ic, parental involvement, discussions about education, etc ) PERSONAL EXPERIENCES (gangs, drugs, tragedies, laziness, effort, bullying, etc ) Central to decision making is the individual student and his personal characteristics/identity The system s of experience s consist of factors that may contribute to student decisions Factors of influence may be contained or interrel ated Relationships may exist between any variables that touch along the line of continuum The apex is the time at which the student forms or reaches a decision A PEX: Stu Decision 1 Bronfenbrenner (1976) ( environment environment perimeter of large triangle) 1 Bronfenbrenner (1976) person environment (perimeter of small triangle s )


39 C HAPTER 2 L ITERATURE REVIEW C losing the achievement gap remains a major area of concern in school reform Endeavors to a ddress the gap have fail ed to provide one unified answer for the discrepancy in student success rates between Black and White students Educational literature suggests a multitude of factors may be associated with t he achievement gap, including poverty, f amily background, parental involvement in stu chooling, teacher expectations, ma identity concept, acknowledged in the school setting etc ( Aerurabach, 2007; Freire, 2000; Gosa, 2007; Jewell, 2003; Ladson Billings, 2009; Noguera, 2003; Ogbu, 2003; Rothstein, 2004; Steele, 1997, etc ) However, no conclusive wide spread results have permeated education in such a manner that the achievement gap has been significantly reduced. While educators debate the ca uses for poor performance of African Americans in school s ystems, Black s tudents are outranking other groups in suspensions, expulsions, absenteeism, low achievement and dropout (Garibaldi, 1992) In addition, Black high school students are experiencing h igh levels of teenage preg nancy, crime and drug abuse and dropout, thus debilitating potential for success as an adult (Cooper & Jordan, 2003). Some educational research concludes that the public educational system is based in an unfair, racially biased, wealth focused societal system which disadvantages poor and minority children (Rothstein, 2004; Freire, 2000; Cooper & Jordan, 2003). It is argued that s uch a Euro centric based educational structure supports biased curriculum and philosophies that are sh ared in pre service teaching centers and negatively a ffect subgroup populations (Ladson Billings, 2009; Goodman & Fish, 1997; Bradley, 2007).


40 C oncerns regarding minorities in school are amplified due to future implications about dropou ability to contribute to economi c growth. Such grave concerns prompted changes in educational polic y. The legislative initiative, No Child Left Behind was instituted to address academic achievement and mandat e accountability standards requiring scho ol systems to address disadvantaged populations. School districts must respond to the needs of students categorized in subgroups within their population in an effort to lessen the achievement gap. However, not everyone agrees to the validity of the legis lation. Smy th (2006) asserts devi ous piece of legislation that is deeply damaging large numbers of already vulnerable students, while demonstrably failing to deliver on its extravagant promises of cators, researchers and policymakers have varied viewpoints on the legitimacy of certain reform efforts to close the achievement gap. However, limited research exists regarding the perspectives of students themselves (Cook Sather, 2006). International, na tional, state, and local school systems are faced with the same dil emma; trends reflecting African American and other minority populations fail ing to meet requ ired standards for graduation The minority subgroups are disproportionately out ranking White s i n regard to dropout statistics thus driving the need for educational reform. conditions conducive to learning in schools deteriorate through emphases on accountability, standards, measurement, and high stakes testing, that increasing numbers of students of colour and those from urban, working class, and minority


41 279). World wide concerns exist over the large number of minorities which fail to meet expected educational standards. Furthermore, e ducational research provides historical implications for Black maladjustment to academic achievement and indicates the necessity for school reform and height ened accountability measures (Smith, 2003 ). For example, federal initiatives that undergird U.S. reform efforts provoke hig h stakes testing, challenging its states to monitor academic achievement of all students. Despite increased accountability, minorit y populations continue to do less well in school when com pared to their White peers. American students have made academic achievements and educational gains in recent years, public education in this country widely remains separate and u (Cooper & Jordan, 2003, p. 380). Graduation rates and student drop out numbers exemplify state level issues that lead to national concerns. Particular states and regions are charact erized by larger numbers of students who fail to meet qualifications for graduation. Florida, the state selected for this study, has an overwhelming number of minority students who drop out of school before completing requirements to graduate. Although F lorida, as well as other states, has implemented higher stakes standardized testing tied to graduation, many minority students continue to lag behind White peers and fail to finish school. Thus far, the legislative policies set forth at the state level ha ve not greatly reduced the number of students who choose to leave school. The implications of an imbalanced educational structure effect educational policy. Thus, reform efforts must acknowledge multiple factors correlated with s tu dents who


42 drop out of sc hool and overwhelmingly poor and minority. Thereby, understanding those characteristi cs greatly impact educational reform. Data reveal poor minority children are likely to have reduced levels of parent involvement with their schooling (Comer, 1998, Hammo nd, et al, 2007; Noguera, 2008; Richardson & Gerlach, 1980; Rothstein, 2004) Their relationships with teachers are essential as well as the curriculum impact ing the overall performance of African Americans in school. Family and teacher relationships a the self identity developed by a minority student has great er implications for the level of participation they devote to their overall achievement. Furthermore, research indicates that students who feel engaged in the educational process through sharing and decision making tend to value their outcomes more. Each of these factors will be discussed in further detail, as they relate to the educational pursuits of African American males in particul ar. For the purpose of this study, academic achievement is defined a s academic goals developed by the school which should be attained by the student in several areas, including mastering individual skills acquiring knowledge attaining appropriate overall scores that result from the administration of standardized tests, such as the FCAT, SAT or ACT earn minimum graduate equivalent cumulative grades and possessing a positive personal attitude Historical review of Black system exposes a legacy of und erachievement among the African Ameri can population due to disadvantages in the school system. F actors associated with the overrepresentation of Black students in dropout data will be shared from the perspectives of African American males enrolled in secondary school. This research


43 examines African American academic achievement through the lenses of students who are most dire ctly affected by the research, Black males themselves. Agents of educational reform having been warr ing in a lamentable battle to clo se the achievement gap between Black s and White s. Additional studies focused on the perspectives of students are needed in order to stop replicating the historical cycle of underachievement among African American student s. Historical Imp lications for Schooling African American Children y and racial segregation yield ripple effects that still appear in school systems t teenagers, including recent immi grants fail to graduate from high school with a regular high school diplom a, the dropout rate for African American males in many metropolitan areas is 50% Black men are dangerously close to emulating our to the Civ il War, a small number of free Black s in both the North and South attended school; however, the vast majority were enslaved, illiterate, Hammond, et al., 2007, p. 3). Inequit ies in schooling sustain the imbalance between students. The achievement gap will remain in tact if comparable opportunities do not exist for Black s and White s. academic achievement of Afric an Billings, 1994, p. ix). The plight to achiev e academic equality for African American students has been an ongoing fight for Black s in the United States Historical records indicate Black s living in Boston, Massachusetts reque sted that schools be established for their children because of the prejudicial treatment and hostility their kids were faced with, but requests were denied. Not until 1820 was a school established for Black s, then, a second school


44 formed in 1831. However the establishment of two schools was deemed very minimal in comparison to the 150 primary schools which had been establish ed for White children by the 1840s (Daniel, 2005). By 1846, after reviewing the poor conditions of its two schools and limited opp ortunities for their children, Black s requested opportunities for their children to attend the same schools as White children However, the General School Committee which governed the educational facilities denied such requests to end segregation. Massac husetts state law did not require Black s to attend schools with White s nor did it require that Black children attend school even though their parents were taxed for education at the same rates as White families (Daniel, 2005). However, the law did provide the opportunity for parents to sue for damages if a child was unlawfully prohibited from entering school. In 1849, Benjamin Roberts filed a suit against Boston system on the basis of racial segregation toward his five year old daughter who was continuously denied the chance to enroll in schools designated for White s although they were located within closer proximity to her home. She had been denied access because she was Black illegal, especially since they had made a prior ruling to abolish slavery and declare equality among all people in 1836. Despite his efforts, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts upheld its state law that allowed segregation of students based upon race and found no ne ed to mandate requirements for Black s to become educated. Following this determination, another major case impacting the education of African Americans was birthed: Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896. doctrine of "separate but equal" in railway s and other public accommodations in society;


45 African American children were faced with both subpar facilities and curriculum. By 1954, over 100 years after the case in Ma ssachusetts, the Supreme Court of the United S tates was faced with answering Nearly 200 plaintiffs from five states (Delaware, Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.) brought the case to the Supreme Court in 1951. The court had to determine whether minority students had equal educational opp o rtunities when segregated on the basis of race, even when all other things, such as facilities may be equal. The Supreme C ourt ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional, thus tendencies to prejudge, discriminate against, and stereotype other people by their Brown Foundation, 2009 ). The 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education should have launched a change in the American educa tional syst em. F or the next decade or so, only a slow process of desegregating schools began because the court used language allowing school districts to determine how quickly to make changes in their school systems Now, more than sixty years after the Brown v. Bo ard of education ruling, America is still contemplating how to make educational opportunities and advancements more equal a mong Black and White children. must assume that the stakes in our collective efforts to achieve educational equity for al l Amer (Stringfield, 2007, p. 306).


46 stations, to leave scho ol with skills that position them fairly and productively in the skills can so clearly be predicted by their race and family economic status is a direct challenge to our d ture clearly identifies African American males as students at risk of not meeting basic educational requirements due to poor academic performance (Jencks & Phillips, 1998; Ladson Billings, 20 09; Ogbu, 1987; Steele, 1997) Unfortunately, this same group has a history of being ranked low on the totem pole of ed ucational aspiration because of mul tiple disadvantages such as low self confidence, expectations, and income. Black males have held a p osition of disadvantage regarding schooling practices throughout the history of education in the United States. Continued History: Overrepresentation of Black Males in Special Education The history of educatio n does not offer much promise for African Amer ican males Jenkins (2009) argues legal practices and policy set the stage for Blacks to remain disadvantaged in schools today. Classrooms still appear segregated in areas where most seats in advance d placement courses are filled with whites while their Black counterparts are being remediated in special education classes. Kemp (2006) reports academic failure and disengagement are the primary reasons for students dropping out of school, whether they have disabilities or not; it is difficult to determine the rate s because different calculation measures and definitions are used by states regarding students with disabilities.


47 Disabilitie s may be viewed different ly by category For instance, Carla & Deluca (2006) refer to nonjudgmental and judgmental categor ies of special education; where non judg menta l refers to disabilities that require minimal inferences to be made (i.e. student s who are deaf blind, have significant intellectual disabilities, or physical impairments) and judgmental exemplifies more subtle disabilities and require an attempt to answer why there is a disproportionate num ber of minorities in special education, especially in the case of Black males. Although Carla & Deluca (2006) share povert y explanations for minorities being overrepresented as students with disabilities because their lack of wealth may have exposed them to risks that compromised human development, they surmise that schools place those students at greater risk by constraining educational opportunities for academic achievement. Because professional opinions are need ed for the placement of students in specia l educators is necessary. Notably, as Black males are at great risk for being labeled with disabilities are Black males, those likely to make the determinations come from an e ducational system overrepresented by White females. Thus, teacher student relationships play key roles in the identification of students possibly at risk of future failure and/or being labeled with disabilities (Decker, Donna, and Christenson (2007) found as the discourse between students and teachers improved, and student teacher relationships became more positive, the social, behavior, and engagement outcomes that would have previously led to referrals for behavioral disabilities actually improved.


48 A la ck of understanding about the way s in which Black boys behave influences their placem ent in special education along with at risk characteristics tied to poverty. Poverty and Low Socio Economic Status Black students, especially those that are poor, are uneq uivocally faltering in school systems. Poor students, particularly Black males, are not succeeding in classrooms in comparison to their peers. Historically, poverty has negatively impacted the educational pursuits of children. Researchers (Rothstein, 20 04; Jencks, 1972; Coleman, 1988; Kozol, 1991) make strong connections between poverty and insufficient academic achievement among African American students. poverty, and they are often the innocent victims of rapid changes in our most fundamental institutions According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2009), poverty status is determined by the re taxes, but excludes capital gains and los s es and noncash benefits such as food stamps and housing subsidies. The income of each person within a household is summed up unless they are non relatives. The income of a non family member within the home is not considered part of the total household income. The dollar amounts, termed as poverty thresholds, determine the status level for a family living in poverty. The thresholds are based upon the size of the family and ages of family members. T he determin ation amounts do not vary geographically. Any family whose total income falls below the threshold is considered to be in poverty. Mollie Orshansky, an economist working for the Social Security Administration, developed the poverty thresholds in 1963 64 (F isher, 1992, p. 43). Fisher (1992) indicates the thresholds or poverty line was initially determined by looking at the minimal


49 approximately one third of their income the U S Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated an annual low cost food budget for families and the cost of such a plan was multiplied by three to calculate the threshold. This calculation was the basis o f what we now call the poverty line. Since that time, poverty thresholds have been updated for inflation, but the calculation process remains the same. Critics of the poverty threshold measure contend that the calculation is outdated, not including gover nment assistance such as food stamps, tax credits, or subsidies for school lunches and further argue that redefining the poverty measure may change the view of child poverty (Iceland, et al., 1999, p. 1). Additional concerns about how the pove rty line was created represent families who earn me rely $1 above the thresh old. Some argue changing family dynamics have not been taken into account (e.g. rising needs and costs for day care, commuting, and other work related expenses) and that families making $1 abo ve the poverty line should be considered because $1 is too minimal to separate those in poverty from those of privilege (Seccombe, 2000). Families who fall below the threshold or poverty line qualify to have their children receive free or reduced lunch in school because of their low socioeconomic status. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service researched trends in supplemental nutrition assistance programs, finding over 39 million people were eligible for benefits in 2007, but only 26 million individuals recei was higher than average among households with children, especially those led by (USDA, 2009, p. 1). The U.S. Census Bu rty rate


50 moved from 12.5% in 2007 to 13.2% in 2008, but Black s had not portrayed a statistically significant drop with their real median i ncome declining only 2.8% ($34,218) in comparison to other race s. Yet, changes in the African American family structure where women act as sole providers in single parent homes leave many Black kids in poverty stricken homes. History chroni cles events that reveal African American families are being plagued with lo w income. Becau se many African America n youth grow up in households characterized by low socioeconomic status they have many obstacles to conquer. The disadvantages of these African American youth include high rates of infant mortality, low life expectancy, low probabil ity of employment, most likely to be suspended or expelled from school, greater changes of being classified as mentally retarded or being placed in special education courses, and most likely absent from advanced placement courses (Noguera, 2003). Thes e fa ctors exemplify a substantial need for Black families to have concern for the educational welfare of their children. Research (Jencks, 1972; Coleman, 1 988; Kozol, 1991) indicate that poverty is positively correlated with academic failure. Rothstein (2004) concluded that many minority children and those from lower social classes are less likely to achieve than students from middle class families. Rothstein asserts the following factors contribute to poor academic performance by students of low income famil ies: a. Children begin school with deficits in vocabulary b. Children from lower income homes, on average, have lower self confidence and are unprepared to meet school challenges with a sense of excitement. c. Parents are not as likely to encourage initiative at early ages, thus lessening


51 d. Parents tend to provide directives to children without tolerating questioning or extensive conversations between adults and children. This prepares kids for direc t instruction used when learning basic skills but offers little preparation for inquiry based learning needed to succeed in higher grade levels. e. Changes in family structure leave children in single parent homes where mothers have less time to help kids wit h school work or in homes with grandparents who have low education levels and are unprepared to assist children with academics. f. Students see parents working in jobs that require little academic skills and begin to formulate images of their future based upo n their view of parent roles. g. Parents in lower class families are less likely to reinforce behaviors that meet their expectations for good grades and overall academic performance. h. Children are less likely to see their parents reading as a way of seeking en themselves. i. Parents hold jobs that leave little room for input or questioning. Instead, they are expected to follow orders and complete routine tasks. They teach their childre n to not ask questions, reducing self efficacy and beliefs that they can affect their environment and solve problems. j. Parents, on average, do not hold positions that allow for time off so parents can visit the school or ta ke their children to the doctor; t herefore, parent support seems to be minimized. Rothstein (2004) contends that the aforementioned factors affect differences in student performance. He alleges that social class differences existing because of our economic system produce the achievement g ap in average achievement as they relate to a wide range of skills, such as literacy, math performance, ability to reason, citizenship, self economic and educational reform is necessary to help narrow the gap between White s and Black s and assist minority students in achieving academic success. Auerbach (2007) studied parents of color and their supportive role in assisting their children with obtaining access to advanced educ ational opportunities. He found variation in levels of support. Some parents purposely tried not to impose their goals on


52 their children, thus intentionally stepping back from some of the educational decisions. Others applauded their children from the s idelines, but feared that increased encouragement could pose a threat on necessary family ties and obligations if the child actually began college. Some parents had extremely limited knowledge about school and how to support access to post secondary educa tion. In fact, they expressed personal difficulty in dealing with schools. Garibaldi (1992) reports some parents are too intimidated to ask questions. Most parents spoke negatively about their own lack of accommodate marginalized students, so too, do schools need to transform their understanding of and interactions with working Compton Lily (2003) reported the basic assumptions that are made about th e academ ic difficulties African Americans face in education are based upon media depictions and urban mythology. Compton Lily alleges that society blames the parents and offers simplistic notion s of incompetence by teachers in lieu of poor pedagogy and lazy, unca ring teachers. Many times families are blamed, especially those of low income, for not being empathetic and helping their own kids in the pursuit of education. Although it seems Black s ma y not have a true value for education because many have not complet ed high school or higher education, historical accounts depict the opposite. Black s fought for the right to become educated, but appear to be negatively affected by their disproportionately high rate American students have m ade academic achievements and educational gains in recent years, public education 380).


53 Some poor families may not understand how to support education, but Black kids who grow up in upper middle class neighborhoods with educated parents do not fare much better. The achievement gap between White an d Black students remains unabbreviated at higher socioeconomic levels. American youth from higher income households and/or with more highly educated parents do muc h better in school than African American youth who lack these advantages, but not nearly as well as White s in similar family circumstances. Indeed, the school performance of affluent African American children often is closer to that of poor White children than that of affluent White & Alexander 2007, p. 286 ). As mentioned earlier, Rothstein (2004) argues that children from low income families start school with less skills and preparation for academic succe ss, indicating that although all students may be able to learn, those from lower classes do not have the tendency to learn fast enough to close the achievement gap. Because the achievement gap remains at various socioeconomic levels, parental involvement i n schooling may be a strong indicator of academic success. Although the parents have with their academics may be directly correlated with academic achievement outcomes. Whether in urban, suburban, or rural areas, findings associated with family background and parental involvement impact future reform efforts. Family Background and Parental Involvement Crucial to understanding the academic achievement of African American males is to become familiar with the family structures that support those students and foster their earliest learning experiences During slavery, African American parents were


54 fervor in the pursuit of education was evident during slavery when slaves risked severe punishment (Fields Smit h, 2005, p. 130). We seek to understand whether Afr ican Ameri can parents uphold the family system itself is dysfunctional and beginning to perish. B illingsley (1992) suggested that the African Ameri can family is alive, reflecting basic values and hopes, but still far from far ing well. In fact, the African American family during that time period signify a myriad of conditio ns that seem to cripp le African American families (i.e. divorce, single parent homes, teen pregnancy, school failure, substance abuse, mental illness, homicide, suicide, criminal behavior, domestic violence, poverty, unemp loyment, etc.) (Billingsley, 199 2). Jewell (2003) docum ented significant changes in the structure of A frican American families reflecting two parent households decreased by approximately 7% between 1982 and 2000. In addition, African American female headed families rose to 44% in the year 2000 due to increase s in divorce rates and unwed parenting, furthermore, male headed families doubled to a total of 8% (Jewell, 2003). Additi onally, African American women are more likely to be in poverty and endure economic hardships. Comer (1993) indica tes that the degree of poverty Black families face prevents parents from providing their children with experiences that allow them to of influencing success in our mainstream culture.


55 On the other hand, William Sampson (2002) refutes some of the research findings by Comer and others who have a tendency to group urban poor into one group that has similar results. Sampson (2002) asserts income is not the only indicator of success and ma ny Black children are able to succeed in school despite issues associated with poverty or support from parents. Furtherm ore, when studying African American, Caucasian and Asian students who do not live in poverty, African Americans score lower on standar dized test scores and have lower grades than their peers from the same economic group (Ogbu, 2003). Therefore, the poverty and familial expectations and/or support are not the only indicators of a cademic success for the African American student. Billingsl ey argued that African 2003, p. 20). Although the literature suggests dysfunction within the African American fa mily, including inconsistent and non cohesive structure and constant turmoil, the Black family has continued to survive (Vereen, 2007, p. 282). Additional resea rch on resiliency supports the presence of one or more significant adults in the life of a chil d can have a positive impact (Floyd, 1996). A study by Floyd (1996), researching resi liency among a group of African American seniors in high school, concluded poor you factors: provide support for warm and stable homes school personnel should work closely with families staff members should work closely with families


56 staff members should emulate th e diversity of the school communities increase volunteers and scale up support programs such as mentoring, literacy, and rites of passage enhance relationships between school counselors and students to increase likelihood of students being informed and rec eiving recognition collaborate with similar schools to provide increased opportunities for highlighting academic success on a larger scale provide clear rules and expectations for students, as well as foster curriculum goals that include self esteem buildi ng, responsibility, communication, and problem solving, but also give opportunities for students to somehow share in decision making More or less, students tend to fare better if adults are actively engaged in their learning process. Jeynes (2007) offered that parental involvement is positively correlated with student achievement, especially if it is voluntary. Conversely, if schools do not facilitate positive relationships with parents, then parental involvement could negatively affect student outcomes. Stone, et al. (1999) suggested that barriers between schools and communities, on the basis of culture, race, and class limit opportunities for social change and strong academic support. Sanders (1998) offered the idea that students receive enhanced benef its when the students are assisted through the collaborative efforts of the home, school, and church. However, schools cannot effect ively assist members of African American families without understanding their familial structure. States, such as Florida with high rates of African American residency should be most familiar with the family dynamics. In 2007, Florida ranked second in the nation having 2,896,693 Black residents, only surpassed by the state of New York (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). Also dat a shows contemporary Black s and their households are overwhelmingly located in urban areas (Allen, 1995). Seccombe (2000) reported 99% of Black children, who live d in single parent homes where the head of household


57 had less than 12 years of education, had experienced poverty. Female headed households ha ve become typical among African American families, but having only one wage earner lessens the amount of income available for the household. Additional reasons for female headed households being at risk of poverty include lower wages paid to women, especially minorities, and limited receipt of child support (Seccombe, 2000). Consistent with increasing numbers of female headed households is the increase of teenage pregnancy, incarceration for Black men, and divorce rates among Black couples. Each factor has led to increasing numbers of grandparents raising African American c hildren. Additionally, African American families may be f urther characterized by decreasing rates of employment and educational attainm ent. Ultimately, multi ple trends exist regarding the Black family. Complexities exist that limit clear understand ing of the family system. Allen (1995) concludes Black families are defined by complicated overlaps between location, functional relations, shared values, affiliations, and blood ties, thus representing a complex system of relationships He further asserts that the Black family should not be viewed according to the stereotype of a single headed household led by a mother with numerous children in a roach infested apartment as alleged through various forms of media. Such erroneous i nformation devalues the African American family and the sparse differences that exist among them. Bankston and Caldas (1998) examined the influence of family structu re and other variables as they relate to academic achievement and found that peers from female headed households who attend school together generally reflect poor performance. However, they suggest that such findings should not cause one to presume studen ts


58 from female headed households automatically lead to poor achievement. Instead, they conclude the family structure may lend itself to inadequate supervision or socialization, lessened parental involvement, or heightened disadvantages due to living in ne ighborhoods with negative social environments. F urthermore, children in African American families that are subject to lower income would more likely face poorer mental and physical health, experience more punitive discipline at home, engage in higher rate Black and Hispanic children experience more frequent and more severe poverty than do White s (Seccombe, 2000, p. 1104). Researchers agree that economic conditions in early childhood have the greatest e ffect on achievement performance (Duncan, et al., 1998; Lipman & Offord, 1997; Dubow & Ippolito, 1994; and Rothstein, 2004 ). Although many African American famili es are char acterized by low income and poor conditions correlated with such social class distinction, all Black families are not poor and do not suffer from ramifications of low income. Albeit some Black families do not suffer from poverty or low income, t he achievement gap still exists when their performance is compared to that of White achievement differences for Black and White children whose families have similar incomes is that income is an inexact proxy for the many social class characteristics that differentiate Black s from White s whose current stein, 2004, p. 47). For instance, Rothstein (2004) discusses middle class income families have extended family members who are poor and also tend to have larger families, both


59 of which yield less money in the household. Also, middle class Black families are more likely to be the first generation of wealth and do not have other family members who can share income with them to support the family resulting in the change of dynamics usually seen in low income families. African American families have displayed greater skepticism and ambivalence toward educational programs over time (Aeurabach, 2007). By drawing on theories of cultural capital, social capital, and social networks Aeurabach (2007) assumed parent culture, and psychosocial development within individual families In her study on re conceptualizing parent roles in education, Aeurabach (2007) concluded as parents attempt to prepare students for post secondary education, they emphasized limited resources and lack of personal educational opportunities. The research indicates that parents became more motivated about educational attainment for their children when their kids performed well in school and invited them to participate in academic endeavors. Additionally, because poor educational history on the part of the parent created hostility and lack of trust toward the school system, providing encouragement, advocacy, and good information are strong suggestions for improving parent involvement. Jeynes (2007) further suggests that parental programs effect academic ach ievement along with voluntary parental involvement. Research has identified strong ties between parental involvement, socioeconomic status, and whether children are reared in intact homes, concluding that parents with higher education levels and socioecon omic status generally provide more academic support (Jeynes, 2007).


60 Because African American families are typically identified as having lower income levels we can expect reduced rates of parent involvement from their families and less positive relationsh ips with teachers whose relationships are generally enhanced with greater involvement. The general cultural elements of family structure are often overlooked as teachers attempt to work with minority children. Although parental involvement may be a missin g element for students regarding their academic achievement, teachers are a common factor for all students. Each child has contact with teachers in the schooling process. Therefore, the contact made between student and teacher is monumental What stude nts expect of their teachers and what teachers expect of their students is significant. Whether those expectations are met may have ev overall academic achievement. Wha t do teachers expect of African American students? E ducational literature explores the answer to that question and shares implications for the future of those students a s related to academic achievement outcomes Teacher Expectations and Readiness increases, the need for teachers who have multicultural p (Mou le & Higgins, 2007, p. 60 9 ). However, while our student population of minorities is growing, many o White middle class, a nd mostly female, creating a larger cultural gap between students and teachers. Johnson (2002) investigated racial awareness among six White teachers who taught students in racially diverse classrooms and found that allowing the participants to narrate th eir life experiences helped them to focus on culture and racial identity that had not been


61 needs to follow graduates into the classroom, and our work needs to extend beyond pre service education, linking pre service education with community based learning and 3). Researchers have identified the need for teachers to increase expectations of minorit y students and alter and/or expand traditional curriculum practices to include the cultural relevance of African American students (Goodman & Fish, 1997; Cooper & Jordan, 2003; Casteel, 2000; Decker et al, 2006 ; Ferguson, 2003 ). Teachers should expect to differentiate learning based American students often demonstrate involvement in the curriculum through vocal response, physical movement and verve which are acc epted and encouraged in African American group settings, such as religious and family gatherings. However, Euro American teachers tend to see In addition, some studies have shown that teachers fail to expect strong achievem ent outcomes from their African American students and do not motivate students to succeed (Casteel, 2000; Decker et al, 2006). Teachers who fail to understand the cultural backgrounds of their students limit achievement outcomes from their students. Moreover, research shows the need f or teachers to develop clos e relationships with students; in turn, students appear to try harder to succeed (Bra dley, 2007; Decker et al 2006; Johnson, 2002). Davis & Jordan (1994) studied Black students in eighth and tenth grade across the nation to e xplore factors associated with their achievement and engagement. Because they were concerned with what variables affect educational outcomes for Black characteristics and fou r outcome measures: academic achievement, grades, locus of


62 if teachers failed to believe they could effect change in the lives of their students, then student performanc e also lessened. Although other factors, including discipline number of Black teachers, and teacher expectancy appeared relevant, they were found suggests that the teache rs who take responsibility for the quality of ed ucation they provide for their Black male students more often minded educators are s erious about closing the achievement gap before several decades pass in the new millennium, we must continue to identify alterable factors in the schooling process that help promote academic success among all students and ooper, 2000, p. 620). Gloria Ladson Billings (2009) has worked with teachers who exemplify exceptional teaching practices and encourage African American students to excel in their performance by devoting exemplary effort in developing rigorous curriculum t hat practice that requires teachers to understand the culture of both the school and studen t. These practices allow students to understand the importance of the curriculum as it relates to them and uses student culture to move beyond typical dominant culture views (Ladson Billings, 2009). This method empowers students to implore their intellec t and emo tions while learning versus


63 Black p A merican students to choose academic excellence yet still id entify with African and African Ladson ng with minority children. Minority viewpoints and cultural significance are often obsolete in curriculum, leaving those students ill equipped to think positively about their identity and hopeless to attain true ideals about success. Friere (2000) undergi rds his research with the notion that the educational system is used as a vehicle to promote social, economic, and political domination that to know and respond to concrete (Freire 2000, p. 30). Freire contends that all people have the capability of looking at the world critically if p rovided with the tools and opportunities to encounter a new reality and deal with new perceptions. Such a philosophy is equated with culturally relevant practices and allows all students to see through a different set of lenses. In this regard, teaching becomes reciprocal where the teacher learns from the students and vice versa. Also, students are expected to become engaged in the curriculum, feeling safe to share their perspectives which facilitates mutual respect for experiences and provides opportun ities for students to learn from one another. Freire (2000) argues that poor minority students are often placed in educational systems that oppress them, limiting their ability to transform because the oppressors are characterized by fear of those students gaining an authentic consciousness and


64 becoming liberated enough to challenge what is being taught. In addition, Freire (2000) refer s to education in terms of a banking concept by which teachers deposit information they determine to be valuable into the se known as students. He concludes that such a process deems students to be manageable items and dehumanizes them. Thus, Freire (2000) believes teachers must be willing to gi ve up control and allow students to engage in dialogue, w hereby both student s and teacher s are engaged in the lessons, learning from one another. This concept of dialogue allows for cultural relevance to emerge in the classroom and provides an atmosphere that embraces humanism and liberates the educational proc ess. Ladson Billings (2009) suggests that the sharing of student perceptions is important because teachers often have low self esteem concerning their own work and explains that working with low income students and minorities tends to further annunciate th ose feelings. Critics of cultural relevant tea ching practices emphasize that Black culture or history should not replace the entire curriculum. However, proponents of using culture relevance ins ist that the removal of African American contributions from the curriculum and within the classroom suggests cultural ranking Furthermore, it implies the culture of minorities is l ess valuable. They propose t eaching from culturally relevant pers pectives merely causes students to value those contr ibutions, theref ore equipping African American s and other minority students with opportunities to create a new reality of the world which embraces a posi tive self [teachers/schools] become more learning centered they must also become more learner cent ered that is, deliberately organized to attend to the varied developmental


65 styles, language backgrounds, family situations, and beliefs about themselves and what school m Hammond, 1997, p. 32). As teachers strive to include minorities in the educational process, their efforts must need to favorably identify with teacher s if they will escape negative performance in school that is so strongly linked with future failure in society. Casteel (2000) summari zes research concluding African American children were treated less well than their peers when taught by Caucasian teach ers. Therefore, he approached the issue by researching surveyed 160 seventh grade students to measure their preferences. Casteel (2000) found students did not believe their race was a significant factor in how they were treated. In fact, most of the suburban low income students who participated in the study believed their teachers liked them and were fair, but many felt the teachers failed to attend to their questions. Casteel ( 2000) concluded that the growing number of minority students attending public school may have raised an awareness of teaching minority populations and teacher preparation programs may be more adequately preparing new teachers. However, the low sample numb er yields inconclusive evidence to generalize the findings. Additional studies on student teacher relationships are needed to determine more conclusive results. Decker et al. (2007) made attempts to determine the effect student teacher relationships have on student outcomes. Decker et al. (2007) acknowledged the body of literature that chronicles lessened teacher relatedness with students as they get


66 they grow older, tea chers also seem to have less strong ties with students. The relationship factor seems to become significantly diminished as students approach secondary school. Although Decker et al. (2007) did not account for the ethnic differences between the White tea chers and Black students in their study ; they recommended additional studies on the cultural competence of teachers. Forty four students and twenty five tea chers participated in their study. They explored the association between student te acher relations hips and African American students who were at risk of special education referrals due to poor behavior. Decker et al. (2007) found that students desired positive relationships with their teachers and school interventions would include improving the quali ty of relationships between student and teacher. Understanding the feelings of the students at early ages is an essential component according to their research findings. As schools become more learner centered, it is presumed they are more closely aligne d with the varying need s of the students. The African American male learner is not only faced with socioeconomic issues, the historical context of their culture, level of parental involvement or teacher expectation, but must balance each aforementioned di scourse with self identity. Hammond, 1997, p. 73). delivery of curriculum in classrooms. Additional investigation on the self identify of African American males is relevant to the discussion of their academic achievement.


67 African Identity Several theories and models attempt to explain varying stages of developing racial ethnic or cultural identity. For this study it is critical to understand how Black males come to view themselves. William Cross developed the theory of nigrescense, defined as the process of becoming darker. Cross (1971) determined that Black s move through four stages (pre encounter, encounter, immer sion emersion, and internalizat ion) as they transition from a White fr ame of reference to a positive Black frame of reference in the development of their personal identity. Each stage of identity characterizes th e world view held by an African American ind ividual. Each stage is described as follows: (1) In the pre encounter stage a pe rson will devalue their culture by taking a complete view of the world from a Euro American perspective; (2) The encounter stage is identified by personal or social events t hat challenge s the Euro American frame of reference causing one to change the interpretation of their identity; (3) During the immersion emersion stage African Americans will develop great pride in their culture, but even though their involvement in the s Black abou t themselves. Generally at this stage, African Americans will promote Black ness while devaluing White s; and (4) Internalization refers to the person achieving a high leve l of inner security with their Black ness and become incredibly satisfied wi th their identity as an African American individual. In the final stage they are less anti White as they merely accept who they are without the need to reduce the culture of White s (Parham & Helms, 1981). Students who view themselves negatively and have no hope of advancing in a Euro American society are less likely to perform well academically. Identifying the plausibility of students operating from the earliest stages of p ositive self


68 identity would greatly impact how to respond to these students. As indicated by Robinson and Brian (2006), schools must actively participate in heightening the level of pride and commitment Black students have concerning their community. The psychological functioning of an individual has extreme ramifications upon performance, behaviorally and academically. Thus, recognizing and responding to where African American students rank in psychosocial development impacts academic performance outcom es. Erik Erikson, a well known theorist in the field of psychology, contributed to the field by creating eight stages of psychosocial development. Erikson contended that the fifth stage is of utmost importance because the concern for identity reaches its climax through exchanges with the social world, such as the aspects of the social world are artz & Cross, 2006, p. 62). Based on this assumption, researchers began to formulate additional models as a framework for dealing with individual personality and behavior. Sue & Sue (1990) created the Racial/Cultural Identity Development Model, as an exp ansion of the experience as they struggle to understand themselves in terms of their culture, the dominant culture, and the oppressive relationship between the two cultures: conformity, & Sue, 1990, p. 96).


69 According to Harper (2007), Black male students who embrace oppositional identity and accept underachievement are valida ting the authenticity of their Black male White earch indicates that Black male students do no t view themselves equivalent to White s and believe in greater opportunities for success in sports and music in comparison to academics (Ogbu, 1987; American students often develop an opposition al identity due to the lack of B lack academic role models both in the people who teach them and the materials that are used in most schools (Bradley, 2007, p. 20). According to Noguera (2003), researchers consider oppositional identity as a cause of oppositional behavi or that is exempl ified because Black students have a fear of being ostracized by peers for not being able to match their academic achievement. He disputes this notion, expositing its failure to address t he culture of schools. At the same time he argues, Black males may engage in behaviors that contribute to their underachievement marginality, but they are also more likely to be channeled into marginal roles and to be discouraged from challenging themselves by adults who are Black s underrepresentation in honors and advanced placement courses is an example of the schools participation in non challenging behaviors. Black boys are to be sufficiently prepared to meet the challenges of the new millennium, it is important that they come to see themselves as intellectually and effectively competent in both academic and social circles and that they Jordan, 2003, p. 382).


70 Steele (1992) proclaims students identify with academics when they begin schooling and are motivated to do well, but over time African American students become less identified with academic performance According to Steele, African American students relate their academ ic performance to how they feel about themselves when they start school but negative experiences in school and society causes them to become more sensitive to negative expectations about their cultural group. A stereotype threat is pr oduced that causes Af rican American students to fear lower academic performance thinking it will confirm negativ e images associated with being Black (Steele, 1992) Moreover, Steele (1992) explains Black students will disidentify with academics to protect their self esteem. If school does not matter, then academic achievement is an unnecessary factor in maintaining a positive self image. college students. He gave the Academic Self Concept Sca le (ASCS) and t he Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale to 359 Af rican American and 229 European American students and compared the correlations of academic self concept, self esteem, and grade point averages (GPA) of underclassmen to upperclassmen. He found that b oth groups had significant positive correlations between self concept and GPA, but the correlation between self esteem and GPA was minimally supported The study revealed European American female upperclassmen showed a significant positive correlat ion bet ween GPA and self esteem, but for all other groups the correlation because his sample included college students the disidentification process may have already been in pla ce. Thereby, the older the students are, the more likely it is that their


71 self identity is already in place and may not be as dependent upon achievement outcomes as other factors related to their life. The attitudes African American males possess while in school is an additional factor associated to academic achievement. American society as a closed system within which they will be unable to participate ach, 1980, p. 492). Rese attitude toward academic achievement provides additional insight to the dropout phenomena occurring among African Americans. The body of literature represents itself as viable resources f or enhanc ing student motivation Minority Students Academic Achievement African American males are typically thought of as products of single female headed households with economic disadvanta ges, located in communities where schools Black dropouts believe that given the current (Richardson & Gerlach, 1980, p. 489). It is often suggested that Black males have less oppo rtunities for success because they are not placed in advanced courses or expected to succeed. They are more likely to be missing from both honors and advanced placement courses (Pollard, 1993). Conver Black children are over Furthermore, Black males often lack positive peer influence or strong male role models and have reduced sense of self efficacy. effi cacy may be defined as intellectual ability of African American


72 males has been t raditionally unacknowledged by White A mericans an d subsequently not accepted by Black s who begin to doubt themselves and discourage peers from exhibiting academic succes White t there is a connection between the edu cational performance of African American males and the Black phenomenon ca lled stereotype threat, where they may feel increased pressure from or likely candi dates for dropout. Similarly, researchers have hypothesized that White s based o n their perception that they may be stereotyped as racist, may experience stereotype threat in interracial contexts ( Goff, Steele, & Davies, 2008) stereotypes about these groups apply, members of these groups can fear being reduced to that st 1997, p. 614). Thus, whether Black or White stereotype threats may lead to the social distancing that is experienced in classrooms. Much like the formation of self identity, stereotype threats pose as incredible barriers to African Am ericans. Their self concept and motivation can be severely hindered by negative feelings about who they are and what is expected of them. The pe rception of schooling for many Black youth is that it is an optimal and o btainable goal, whereas, other Black a dolescents may perceive academic success as only celebrates African and African American culture, but also imbues Black children with the skills they need to survive in society and to contribute to its creative


73 Benson 1986, p.3). Although research indicates that Black m ales may exhibit behaviors which contribute to their underachievement, they are also likely to be placed in academic settings that do not challenge them (Noguera, 2003). The relationship between socioeconomic levels and underachievement underscores the need for economic empowerment in schools with underprivileged students. The same resources that are unavailable to schools are the same resources that are not available to families, thus creating a major barrier to school achievement (Powell, et al., 2007). The responsibility to motivate students in general is not merely the responsibility of one person. An old proverb institutes the ide a that motivating, supporting, and households. Today, it appears most people loo k the other way when problems arise, inevitably determined by his IQ or how smart he is, but rather by the intelligence of his motivator (Dunn & Griggs, 1995). Dunn an d Griggs (1995) stated that when one is speaking of th e responsibility of the African American community, they are generally referring to one woman. Thus, it seems the old adage must be rejuvenated by having schools and communities work together to enhanc e aca demic performance among African American males. Because African American children are likely to live in poor communities, research investigating the impact of their families warrants further research. According to Powell, et al., Americans have the h we should be concerned for poor elementary school students because we have empirical evidence that


74 growth, academic ability, and socio emot ional well being, inhibits effective parenting, and increases the chances that children will attend inferior schools and live in high risk environments ( 2007, p. 300). outco mes: dropping out of school, teenage pregnancy, crime, drug use, all of which have serious implication s 385). Noguera (2003) argued that we still fail to understand the impact of cultural and en vironme ntal factors as they relate to Black performance. Learning how to influence the att itudes and behaviors of African American males must begin with an understanding of the ways in which structural and cultu ral forces shape their experiences in school and influence the construction of their Teachers are a large motivating force for students from all backgrounds. Minority students desire to have teachers who believe in the m as much as students of the predominant White s can inadvertently turn off Black male students who have high abilities, positive self concepts, and outstanding personal expectations, and who set achievable a ldi, 1992, p. 8). Garibaldi surveyed over 2,250 African American male students, a random sample of 318 teachers and 3, 523 parents in a New Orleans school district and found discrepancies in expectations between students and teachers. Nearly all students (95%) expected to gradua te from high school, 40% felt their teachers did not set high enough expectations and more than half (60%) of the participants believed their teacher should push them harder. Despite student expectations to gra duate 60% of the teacher participants responded negatively when asked if they believed the students


75 would go to college. In turn, 80% of parents believed their sons would attend college. aspirations for African American studen ts was extremely low meaning they have little reliability in motivating the students and lack of agreement with parents. Garibaldi illuminates the discrepancies between perceptions held by adults and students. His findings led to more than 50 recommenda tions for the New Orleans school district. As a result of the study, some suggestion s were made to motivate African American males. Garibaldi (1992) sug gests we encourage more African American males to participate in extracurricular activities that are r elated to academics; provide recognition and tangible awards for students who perform well academically; te achers should encourage African American male students to pursue college while they are enrolled in elementary school; teachers should s h ow relevance of teaching to future goals and job readiness; businesses should provide rewards and incentives to the children of their employees for regular attendance, above average grades, and participation in extracurricular activities, etc. The positive responses from parents, teachers, community members and peers are necessary ele ments in student motivation of Black males. The achievement gap evidences the l ow self efficacy of the African American sub group population. Many African American males are not making positive judgments about their academi c ability or achievement. Yet, what encouragement is need ed for individual students cannot be determined without recognizing what th e student himself needs. Attempts to motivate


76 students without understanding how they perceive their educational environment would pose greater hardships. Student Voice/Perceptions While researchers have identified possible reasons for the achie vement gap that exists between Black and White stud ents, they have sparred increased interest in male achievement. Afric an American males, in particular have high rates of dropout from school. Yet, minimal effort has been devoted to speaking with Black males about this phenomenon By and large, the information shared in educational research comes from the adult perspe ctive and the voice heard in literature i s that of adult researchers, not students. Student voice in its most profound and radical form, call s f or a cultural shift that opens up spaces and minds not only to the sound but also to the presence and Sather, 2006, p. 363). Attending to the voices of students gives us a fresh perspective for educational reform because it provid es us with critiques and recommendations from those most affected by our efforts (Cook Sather ). Student voice literature is grounded in qualitative studies that support interviews with students. Although the methodologies needed to acquire information may be more labor intensive and time consuming, invaluable data may be collected that influence curriculum practices. Studies that represent student voice give viable information ( DeFur & Korinek, 2010; Mitra, 2004; Smyth, 2006: Steinberg & McCray, 2012; and Thiessen, 2006). Each allows us to understand the influence and impact those factors have on their academic performance. The different position from which students experience schooling and, more generally, from which they experience the world makes their contributions to discussions of school


77 Sather, 2009, p. 224). Yet, quantitative measures reinforce findings of studies for student voice research. Educators are rec ognizing the legitimacy of what students share and how their perspectives may positively influence educational reform, thus, there has been an extensive expansion of research on student voice over the last twenty years. Current interest in student experie recent studies document what students do in school, how schools influence the development of students, how students address the challenges and circumstances of successive waves of school reform, an d how students make sense of, adapt to, and Student voice literature legitimizes the value of student input and further suggests that giving students a say in what happens in sc hool settings encourages greater concern about achievement. Smyth (2006) argues students have felt their school experience has been trivialized ; therefore, they developed hostility toward learning environments and chose to underperform. Thus, Smyth (2006 ) indicates the voices of students must be clearly heard, especially subgroup populations in their resilience to hooling someth ing that is becoming Unfortunately, the silent voice of low achieving students leaves a deadening ring in the ears of educational researchers. It is paramount that we address the needs of failing /at risk about schooling practices so we may understand their interpretations of pedagogy.


78 Increased investigations of student experiences and viewpoints will allow for reasonable inexcusable given their role as the primary clientele in K p.132). Conclusion African America n males continue to dawdle in achi evement when compared to White peers. Their standardized test scores and overall achievement m arks the need for advancement As Black male students grow older and enter secondary school populations the number of students who drop out grows increasingly w orse. Unless further research indicates methods for lesseni ng the achievement gap, African American males remain in danger of dropping out of school and possibly noted as failing citizens in society. It is time that their voices are heard. Expansive lite rature has already covered minority populations experience with school dropout However, most research continues to include the adult perspective. M inimal studies focus on the remain silent in the lite rature, th e dropout phenomenon continues and the African American voice goes unheard To date, the literature includes adult viewpoints on how Afr ican American history, low income, family background, teacher expectations, self identity concept of Black me n, and failure to adhere to the voice of the student are speculate d to impact dropout behavior Some believe economic and social barriers are factors related to dropping out of school Others conclude that negative stereotypes cause students to become di sengaged in education and lead them to decisions to drop out of secondary school. Meanwhile, other researchers provide the rationale that minimum parental involvement with the school process has led to our alarming dropout


79 rates for Black males. Additio nal expectations for Black males and failure to adapt their instruction to cultural ly relevant material for minority students results in African American males dropping out high school before earning a d iploma Multiple perspectives exist regarding factors associat ed with reasons for droppin g out of school. This st udy is designed to explore relationships viewed sig nificant for dropping out and whether student voice echoes adult perspectives when sharin g their thoughts about why Black boys dropout of the secondary school setting. Finally, t he study seeks to add col lective perspectives of African American male students to the body of literature that permeates educational reform research.


80 CHAPTER 3 METHOD OLOGY Research Design The research question guiding African American male stude nts believe are related to why Black Th is research study focuses on perceptions of Afr ican American male stu dents because educational literature state s they are most at risk dropping out of school. The research question highlights the importance of African American male student perspectives about the dropout phenomena they are portrayed by in educational litera ture. Thus far, a major weakness of education research is its limited attention to student voice. (Smyth, 2006, p. 283). African American males are asked t o complete the Student Voice Survey as a method of sharing th eir thoughts about factors related to Black boys dropping out of school (Appendix H) The categories on the survey are related to the research question which is driven by several non directional hypoth eses : H 1 : African American male students with similar demographics will hold similar beliefs about reasons for Black boys dropping out of school. H 2 : African American male students perceive poor relationships wit h their teachers are a factor for B lack boys dro p p ing out of school. H 3 : African American male students perceive school curriculum is positively correlated with reasons Black boys choose to drop out of school. H 4 : African American male students perceive family situations are related to wh y Black boys drop out of school.


81 H 5 a reason for dropping out of school. The survey was design ed to provide quantitative descripti ons about the opinions shared by student partic ipants From their responses, claims have been made about the p opulation. Using a cross sectional survey desi gn, data was collected at one point in time versus over long periods as with longitudinal data collection. On line surveys were developed for th e purpose of easy access, low cost, and ability to gather data quickly. Sampl e/ Setting The study was conducted with a purposeful sample of students fro m middle and high school. Each school belonged to s chool district located in north central Florida. Par ticipants were selected from a population of convenience in a school district where the researcher is employed. Participants were gathered based upon accessibility, achieved by school principals granting approval to conduct the study at their school site. The select ed school district is considered an urbanized area by the Census Bureau (2010) and most schools within the district are located inside the city limits. Five middle schools and four high schools are located outside city limits. The National Center for Education Statistics (2007) has developed four locale categories for schools based on the 2006 classification system: city, suburban, town, and rural. The school district used in this study meets the definition for city, but schools within thi s study are The majority of the participating schools fit the definition of Almost all of the middle and high schools participating in the study fit the d efinition of ere pilot study participants were


82 enrolled. The only exception was the alternative school and it lies on the city/county boundary line. Included in the sample are four of the five (80%) public middle schools and two of the four (50%) public high schools l ocated outside of city limits. Center schools within th e participating school district focus on students with special needs and disabilities. The private and charter schools often focus on special populations too; h owever, none are included in the sample. The school that granted permission for the pilot study to be conducted can be described as a combination middle /high school designated Similarly, the alternative school is designed for middle and high school, but placement is based upon students exhibi home school. The combined student enrollment for all traditional schools participating in the study is 2,120 middle school students and 1,695 high school students which includes all rac ial and ethnic backgrounds The student enrollment for African American male students attending those schools is equivalent to 249 middle school children and 242 high school students. An additional 53 African American students wer e enrolled in the altern ative school, of which 35 were males All Black males students enrolled at the participating schools were invited t o participate in the study; 261 of 579 (45%) completed surveys as part of the sample populatio n. African American male students were purpose fully selected to participate because they are only minimally conveyed as providing perspectives to the body of research, but are overrepresented as students at risk of dropping out of school. Their voice should be heard in educational literature. Parti cipants from multiple grade levels were selected


83 because students drop out at each grade in secondary schools and multiple tiers of information will provide variance of descriptions between grade levels. The research office was contacted to obtain approval for the study. Then, information about the study was forwarded to the principals of each school for them to make d ecisions about participation. Principals who consented to conduct the study in their resp ective school were contacted to s et up times to survey students based upon procedures that were best for their school culture. Participating schools varied in their decision on how to grant access to students (i.e. using computer labs during electives, English class, after school program etc.). Before students participated in the study, the y were asked to take assent forms home to their parents to share information about the study. Parents/guardians were asked to reply with a signature, using the if they did not w ant their child to participate (Appendix G ) Once the deadlines for returning the paperwork were Each student was given the access information on individu al slips of paper to start the on line version of the survey. If a scheduling problem or other school concern arose, then students were provided a hard copy of the survey instrument using the exact formatting of on line questions. Afterwards, all data wa s entered in the computer system by the researcher. All participation was completely voluntary. Participants were not compensated for their involvement in the study. Persons who decided to not participate in the study or selected to discontinue partic ipation were not penalized in any way. No risks were imposed upon participants.


84 Instrument ation Development A pilot study was con ducted for this current research A collection of responses were gathered by interviewing African American male students enro lled in a public middle/high school, gr ades 6 12. Five students chose to participate in the study and shared their thoughts about factors related to Black boys dropping out of school. Their responses to eleven open ended interview questions were audio re corded and transcribed (Appendix C ). Evidence of similarities and/or differences among student participant responses as it relates to Black males dropping out of school has been described by sharing their perceptions and summarizing results ( Appendices D & F ) O pen codi ng and thematic data analysis allowed s pecific themes to emerge from the data. A cross secti on o f student interview responses and educational literature yielded a common thread of perspectives about factors related to the dropout crisis. The similarities consisted of the following factors: types of demographic variables, teachers, school/curriculum, family involvement, peer groups, and personal experiences. The combined literature review and interview results led to the development of a 4 2 item survey instrument which was used to obtain additional African American male student perspectives on factors relating to dropping out of school. The survey instrument was sent to all administrators and guidance counselors employed by the school dis trict. Feedback from educational leaders was shared regarding the questions and changes were made based upon responses to establish a more valid instrument. The survey includes 7 questions that focus on student demographics The demographic variables rela ted to extracurricular activities, age, grade level, grade point avera ges, and parental information. Thirty three questions were


85 broken down into the following categories: teachers (5), school curriculum (10), family support (5), and personal experience (1 3); all were designed on a continuous, 5 point Likert scale where participants marked a range of responses from strongly agree to strongly disagree 1) The final two questions were open ended questions, for the purpose of receiving further cla rity about the topic. Procedure s The purpose of this section is to outline the data collection and analysi s methods used for this study. T he methods were used to guide an exploration of student perceptions about Af rican t o drop out of school and highlight trends in the data. Statistical procedures were followed to report measures of validity within the study. Although this research study is quantitative, the instrument incorporates student voice An unbiased approach wa s used in the final data collection for the purpose of reliability. Nominal values were assigned to student responses for the purpose of analyzing the data. Students were not penalized for non completion of the surveys though. In some cases, survey items to be measured on the Likert scale were left unanswered by coded to provide descriptive statistics for the data. Descriptive statistics and frequency tables regardin g demographic information and overall studen t responses are outlined in chapter four. Demographic factors related to age, grade level, head of household, highest level of education completed by parents and involvement in extracurricular sports; all were coded according to the number of responses available. Additional items included in the survey were divided into categories recognized in literature as factors related to


86 personal experiences. Those items were coded by responses shared on a five point Likert lear with a statement. Similarly, responses 4 and 5 were paired to reflect overall disagreement with the statement by participants. Finally, summarized qualitative data shared by students who participated in the pilot study interviews is presented along with data from the two open ended survey questions. Correlation and regression analyses were applied to d escribe the data output and reliability and probability of outcom es. To better understand the relatio nships described in the results section coefficients ( r ) provide the degree of linear associations existing between two variables, emphasizing the streng th and direction of the relationship, where correlation coefficient values of 1 reference a negative relationship, 0 equates to no relationship, and 1 refers to a positive relationship. By definition, any variable correlated with its self will have a cor relation coefficient value of 1. Correlations are yielded significant at both the .01 and .05 levels based on the ends of the sampling distribution (two tailed). This means if the p value is less than 0.05, then the correlation is rendered significant wi th the researcher being 95% confident that the relationship between the variables is not due to chance. At the 0.01 level of significance, the researcher is 99% certain that the variables are not related by chance. The closer the value is to .000, the mo re likely the variables are significantly related to one another. Descri ptive analysis of data is outlined in chapter 4,


87 clarifying how variables are interrelated after independent and dependent variables were examined The significant relationships are explained by a range of scores, defined in categorical areas. Bivariate and multivariate linear regression models were used to determine the plausibility of any independent variables being able to significantly predict another variable. The SPSS Premium Packaging Software was used to organize the various results from testing how factors were related Subsequent, thematic analysis was used to provide descriptions of the themes derived from the two open ended questions. Limitations of Study First, some as sumptions were made regarding the study. Assumptions are elements expected to be true and taken for gr anted by the researcher. T he researcher assumed participants in the study would be concerned about the topic and provide honest statements about their t houghts regarding dropping out of school. It was expected that students who took time to reply to open ended questions would provide genuine statements, as well as make good choices to share the most accurate responses on the Likert scaled items. Further more, an assumption was made about the collective identity of the student participants. It was expected that participants would hold values and beliefs about other African American males because they were most likely socially connected. The interpretati on of results may be most limited by the inability to provide external validity. Data is not considered generalizable to all school populations because the results may not be relevant for all African American students attending secondary schools. Because were shared, the diversity of responses is minimized. The sample size (n=261) reduces


88 generalizability in a school district which comprises more than 2,000 African American male students enro lled in secondary schools. 1993). Thereby, the limited sample may not be representative of all African American males enrolled in middle and high schools. A ccording to Johnson & Onwuegbuzie (2004), the sample size could lower credibility for other administrators and/or leaders of educational programs. Furthermore, s imilar demographic features regarding location may suggest simi larities among neighborhoods in which students live and present questions about predictions for Black males attending large inner city schools. However, the same conditions for conducting the interviews or surveying students may be applied at any school t hus yielding a consistency of measurement through replicable designs. Although a perfect random sample was not used, the responses from participants are still meaningful to add to the body of research and provide a basis for future research questions to be explored. G iven the imp ortance of the large number of Black youth dropping out of school, additional descriptive data helps provide a clearer picture of the circumstances even if not generalizable. To increase the external valid ity the survey would nee d to be given to a larger number of schools throughout the school district, over a longer period of time, and include additio nal demographics Participation from more students from varying schools with a variety of demographics may have enhanced results. The limited demographic data gathered for this study does not allow for analysis related to household income or students with


89 However, most students will not repor t low income (free/reduced lunch status) or participation in the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) program. For instance, including students who qualified for the ESE Program may have added valuable data relating to the pressure Black males face when de aling with a learning disability too. Due to requirements for anonymity and randomness, the researcher could not determine /report that information ; doing so would jeopardize anonymity and possibly reveal sensitive information about students who decided to participate. Creswell (2003) asserts quantitative researchers employ varying strategies of inquiry, philosophical assump tions, methods, and practices. He characterizes the quantitative researcher as one who uses surveys or experiments, pre determined a pproaches, numeric and statistical data, and tests hypotheses and theories to verify their accuracy. Such studies may be characterized as unbiased. However, the researcher may be subjective to i nternal beliefs held about the study that impact its value a nd overall approaches used to collect data and determine findings. The researcher and part icipants are all culturally releva nt, self identifying their race as African American. Although cultural similarities may exist, there is a discrepancy in gender whi ch may inhibit the researcher from fully relating to the experiences of the male participants. In addition, both the age and level of education achieved by the researcher presents a large gap between her and the participants As each generation further d evelops their language, certain terms or slang used by the young participants during the pilot study interviews and as responses to open ended survey questions may need to be clarified as to not be misinterpreted. Making presumptions about terms used


90 by t he participant could change the meaning of particular responses; therefore, the age differential could skew data. Preconceived ideas about how participants should respond or what results should come from data collection may hinder the interview process us ed as the pilot and basis for survey questions. re reflected in the interview and 9, p. 7). Determinations of causal relationships or internal validity may also be negatively affected by a maturation threat. Due to varying ages (11 have greater perceptiveness simply becaus e they have developed a keener awareness over time. Thereby, a variation in perception of African American males in sixth grade may differ significantly from those who are seniors in high school.


91 Table 3 1. Likert scales used in survey instrument Categ ory Example of research question Range of responses Teachers Black males drop out of school because teachers are unfair. Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree School/ Curriculum Black males drop out of school because they are failing classes. Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree Family Black males drop out of school because their parents/guardians need them to work to help support their family. Strongly Agree, Agre e, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree Personal experience Black males drop out of school because of drugs. Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree Source: Student Voice Survey: Student Pe rceptions About Dropping Out of School, 2011


92 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The Voice of Our Black Boys Due to cultural identity, it may be presumed that student participants are more likely to communicate with other African American students as compared to their Whit e peers. Therefore, they may have keener perceptions about schoolmates who have had unfortunate ties with poor academic achievement. Thus, the perceptions of the African American male students surveyed are very important to the study of underachievement and high school dr opouts. Yet, when Black boys were interviewed as a pilot for the survey design and asked to describe a time when someone requested them to share their thoughts regarding academic success for African American students, none could really c ome up with a significant instance. One student said the only time he recalled Af rican American achievements being discussed was in class during Black History Month; otherwise, there never was a time in classrooms when someone requested his opinion about school. The first opportunity those participants had to share their perceptions regarding African American males and academic achievement was during their interviews. Nonetheless provided the researcher with enough evidence to pursue further investigation of student perceptions about Black males dropping out of school before earning a diploma. Demographic Characteristics of Survey Participants Descriptions of the demographic variab les used in the Student Voice Survey (Appendix H) are outlined to provide a more precise view of the sample population. The total sample included 261 students, ages 11 19 enrolled in grades 6 12 Specific


93 characteristics were revealed when survey result s were reviewed as indicated below, and the frequency of responses shared per demographic variable are shared in Tables 4 1 through 4 7 Age of Student : The mean age of students who participated in the st udy was 13 14 years old, with approximately 38% (n=98) being represented by that age range. N one of the 6th 12th grade student participants were more than nineteen years old and the youngest participant s were 11 years of age although students in middle and high school can include students 10 22 years o ld Grade Level : Combined 7th and 8th grade students c omprised 47% (n=12 3) of the total participants, nearly half of the sample size Other students who participat ed included 24 sixth graders, 23 ninth graders, 45 tenth graders, 30 eleventh graders, an d 16 twelfth graders. Of those surveyed, 44 % (n=1 14 ) were enrolled in a public high school and 56% (n=147) attended middle school. GPA : The average self reported unweighted grade point average (GPA) was 2.19 det ermined by students is only slightly above the minimum 2.0 GPA required for students to graduate from high school. Thirty six percent (n=95) reported maintaining a GPA between 2.00 2.99; less than 10% (n=24) were below minimum standards for gra duation with grade point averages between 1.00 1.99; however 38% (n=100) of the sample indicated having grades within the 3.00 4.00+ range. T he minimum GPA necessary for students to participate in sports and other extra curricular activities is 2.00, whil e some academic clubs may require a highe r standard GPA for membership P articipants with grade point averages below 2.00 are deemed at high risk ( 9%; n=24) and students with a GPA falling between 2.00


94 2.49 is at moderate risk for non completion (21%; n=5 4) of high school, indicating one third of the participants exemplify academic concern. Head of Household: Students were asked who they lived with a t home One student failed to complete the survey question, but 38.7% (n=101) of the remaining students dec lared living with both their mother and father in the same household. However, no indicators exist to reflect whether their parents were married or if the parent. A larger percentage of students, 39.5% (n and his sign living with a grandparent, another relative, or some other person. No participants Highest Level of Education Completed by Mo m : All but two students shared whereas 14.7% of mot 24.2%). Participants indicate mothers as having greater succes s in school due to lower rates of dropping out than fathers: 6.9% (n=18) vs. 11.1% (n=29). Nearly one fifth (20.1%; n=52) were unsure what level of education their mother attained


95 Highest Level of Educated Completed by Da d : One student failed to indicate a mothers (AA, BA, or higher) only comprised 23.5 % (n = 61) of the sample size with Fat earned a diploma than moms (27% vs. 24.2%). More than one third of the participants (32.3%; n =84) had no idea what level of education their fathers completed Extracurricular : Most students shared their involvement in extracurricular activities, two students skipped the question. A little more than one tenth of the students reported no involvemen t i n extracurricular activities while nearly one third ind icated some involvement in a school club, service learning organization/volunteerism, student government association, and/or band. M ost students were involved in some type of sport outside of the a cademic school day (85.1%; n=222); 61% play on t he basketball team and 56% reported membership on the football team while 106 boys played both football and basketball Twenty six students to involvement in extracurricular a ctivities and were prompted to list what activities they were involved in. Of those, ten indica ted involvement with at least one of the following sports: co ed cheerleading, archery, fencing, lacrosse, tae kwon do, kickboxing, ping pong, skateboarding, an d kickball. N on athletic activities included a culinary program, Talent Search, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Boy Scouts, Pre Collegiate, acting/drama, c leaning job, playing guitar or games, technol ogy,


96 reading, completing activities with brother, serving as a disc jockey (DJ) and helping people on farms. The data does not reveal how involved parents are with the extracurricular activities or whether parents who experienced academic succe ss were also involved in sports or some other activity during their middle/high school years Demographic descriptions help us recognize trends among groups of students participating in the study as related to the variables (Tables 4 9 through 4 15) The sample population is young, with most students attending middle school as seventh and eighth graders at the start of their teenage years near the start of adolescence One hundred students reported having grades that meet honor roll criteria (above 3.0) although the presence of positive academic achievement is reported, we must consider whether self report ed grade point averages are accurate and valid. Also GPA ranges are not particularly beneficial (e.g. 95 students reported grade point average betw een 2.00 2.99, but we cannot tell how many of those students were at the 2.00 mark, at risk of failure or at 2.99, needing one hundredth of a point to make the honor roll or if the dis crepancy between those numeric values w ould make a difference in stud ent perceptions. The participant s in this study tend to live with their mothers and at least one third of the boys are expo sed to mothers who have post secondary degrees compared to their fathers whom they reported as being somewhat absent from the home a nd not serving as a role model for attaining academic success by graduating from high school The sample population is further described by one fifth of the parents being characterized as dropouts. Of those, some may be in the same household, but if each parent who dropped out of school represents a different household and parents serve


97 as primary role models to their children, a much needed concern arises Many youth mimic their we could expect nearly the same number (appr oximately 18%) of student parti cipants to drop out of school if they mirror poor academic outcomes of parents In contrast, participants who live in households where parents have e videnced high levels of success regarding academic achievement by earning advanced degrees, may lend themselves to heightened potential for similar academic requirement s. A sig nificant number of students marked he highest level of education their mother or father completed. M ore than one third of the participants (32.3%; n=84) had no idea what level of education their fathers completed and nearly one fifth (20.1%; n=52) were unsure what level of education their mother attained. These results indicate a lack of awareness by students about their parents educ ation and may support other survey results related to how participants perceive d limited household discussions about education as a strong factor for dropping out of school. Examining Relationships of Factors Related to Drop Out A correlation analy sis was run to determine the relationships between variables. Based upon the sample size (n=261) and the number of items provided on the survey (n=42). Pearson Correlation Coefficients were used to explain relationships. Several variables in the study w ere d etermined to be correlated to one another with a strong degree of significance The degree of strength by which factors are related and the level of significance of the relationships for each of the demographic variables and Likert scaled items are d escribed in a correlation table ( Object 4 1)


98 or relation coefficient values indicate the strength of the linear relationship between age and grade level The data set shows as age increases, grade level tends to increase too ( r = .924 p < 0.0 1 ) The data suggests one could predict a grade level from their age, at least as the constructs are measured here. With a great degree of confidence ( 99.3% ) it can be determined that a negative relationship will continually exist between age and who drop out of school. A s students get older and promoted to the direction of agreement with the statement; and the converse is true. One third of the students surveyed felt teachers not encouraging ] students to work hard was a factor for dropping out O lder students acc ount for those who believe the teacher behavior impacts dropouts. Despite the relationship that exist s mind that correlations do not prove cause and effect relationships. The strongest relationships between factors on the survey ar e described by c orrelation c oefficients yielding the greatest confidence ( at the .01 significance level ) and strongest direction (close st to r =1) The most significant bivariate relationships have coefficients equal to or greater than r = .500 however, all factors characterized by the first 40 questions are reported in Object 4 1. They include every demographic variable and each of the factors reported on the 5 point Likert scale. However, the strongest relationships are factors that tend to more tight ly group toget her, moving in the same direction, reflect ing greater consensus of opinions from the students when answering survey questions and possibly suggesting strong inter rater reliability.


9 9 Findings from the survey results indicate a perfect positive relationship exists between two variables, Black males drop out of school because teacher s do not care Black males drop out of school because teac ( r = .638 p = .000 ). Therefore, 100% of the time, responses about teache rs not caring will move in the same direction as response s about teachers being unfair. African American males, who by in large disagree with the notion that uncaring teachers are related to dropping out of school, will also oppose the idea that dropping out is paired with unfair teachers. Similarly, a positive linear relationship ( r = .682 p = .000 ) exists between survey it Black males drop out of school because they do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about pr Black males drop out of school because they do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about personal Nearly 60% of the African American male students believe Black boys dropping out of school is related to their lack of comfort with talking to teachers about their problems on both components (school related and personal problems) The results show Black male youth notice student teacher relationships and have opinions about their impact on education. The relationship between perceptions reg arding Black males drop out of school Black r coefficient value of .69 (p = .000 ) Typically, gangs and drugs are thought to go hand an d hand. Most portrayals of drugs on television are tied to drugs and students in this study seem to thing within that same ents perceive both gangs and drugs to be

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100 a factor of drop out for Black males, moving in tandum together. Interestingly, an additional 10% of the sample population (70% of total sample) considers a factor for students dropping out of school is the lack of effort given by the Black male student. Also, the lack of effort is significantly correlated to drugs ( r = .622 p = .000 ) and not knowing why school is important ( r = .601 p = .000 ). Not knowing why school is important is related to other factors bes ides lack of effort. African American middle and high school students tended to have a pattern of thoughts associated with the factor, Black males drop out of school because they do They perceived several oth er variabl es in a similar way: drugs, getting a young lady pregnant/becoming a father, experiencing family tragedy, involvement with a gang, laziness, and not being involved in extracurricular activities. Each factor has a s tatistically significant relat ionship wi th not realizing the importance of school (each with r > .500) The Viewpoint of Black Boys on Student Teacher Relationships An analysis of correlation coefficients valued at more than .399 is represented by student teacher relationships. The correlatio ns are reported in regards to student impacts decisions about school dropout, and how personal experiences of Black male students relate to academic decisions. The survey i nstrument included several statements related to relationships with teachers: Black talking to tea talking to teachers about The

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101 researcher hypothesized that participants in the study would view poor relationships with students as a m ajor factor for dropping out of scho ol. Of th e five statements pose d about teachers over 50% of the respondents Black males drop out of school because they do NOT feel comfortable talking to teachers about proble (n=133) and Black males drop out of school because they are uncomfortable talking to teachers ab (n=131) Only 13% (n=36) perceive students drop out of school because teachers do not care about students. About one third (n=77) of the students either agreed or strongly agreed with the notion that teachers failure to encourage Black males led to decisions to drop out of school The remaining variable asked students to rank their level of agreement with the belief that Black males drop out of school because teachers are unfair ; 26% (n = 69) perceive the statement to be accurate Survey items about perceived negative behaviors by teachers, such as being unfair or failing to care about stu dents, are rela ted to other teacher variables. The variable related to unfair teachers maintains a strong linear relationship with teacher s do not encourage s tudents to work hard ; the same variable also held a pos itive relationship with students who were uninterested in school and class sizes that were too large. Teachers p erceived as uncaring maintain rel not encourage students to work hard teachers who are perceived by students as uncaring there is a greater chance that students will also feel as though

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102 they are not be ing encouraged by teachers to w ork hard in school. Similarly, Black male students (or other Black male students in their environment) who perceive that teachers will not encourage stude nts to work hard will have a greater chance of also perceiving students as feel ing uncomfortable with talking to teachers about school related or personal problems, thinking teachers are unfair, and believing class sizes are too large. Although lack of encouragement from teachers was perceived as a factor of dropping out of school participants did not perceive unfair or uncaring teachers as strong reasons for African American male students dropping out of school. When asked if teach ers not caring is a factor for quitting school 51% of the student w hile a lessor 3 6% of the students shared some level of disagreement with the idea that decisions to leave school are based upon teachers being unfair Moreover, at least fifty students responding to each of the two statements marked for those items A little more than 50 % (n=133) of participants perceive one reason African American male students drop out of school is because they are not comfortable talking to teachers about school related problems. Likewise, 50 % (n=131) of the same group of students perceive Black males drop out of school because they are The data indicates relationships between Black male students and their teachers are important as p erceived by the sample population The findings echo conclusions by Davis & Jordan (1994), student performance was lessened when teachers did not believe they could effect change through their relationships. Important in relation to the age of students sampled fo r this

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103 study, Decker (2007) found parent student relationships became less strong as students approached secondary school. Here, students indicate d the perceived importance of secondary school relationships with teachers. Professional development regardi ng student teacher relationships and guiding teachers though focused discussions about their perceptions of cultural identity and how to relate to African American male students could prove helpful (Johnson, 2002). How Black Males View School Curriculum in Relation to Dropping Out Ladson Billings (2009) identifies cultural relevant teaching as a practice that result, students understand the curri culum in relation to sel f and become empowered to use their intellect while identifying with their culture and pur suing academic excellence. Additionally Friere (2000) asserts because minority viewpoints are often left out of school curriculum, students feel disadvantaged at at taining academic success Therefore, the researcher hypothesized African American male students would perceive school curriculum is positively correlated with reasons for Black boys to drop out of school. An assumption was made by the researcher that Afr ican American male students would view the limited educational resources related to their culture as a reason to minimize intere st in school. However, restricted culturally relevant materials were only perceived as problematic when families already were n on supportive of academic success. perceptions about dropping out because of personal experience variables was weaker than evidenc ed by other categorical variables However, the relevance of culture does have a significant relationship with

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104 the perception that Black Boys who drop out of school are impacted by school [that] r =.337, p = .000 ). The relationship be tween the constructs delivers a coefficient of determination (R 2 ) value of .113569; 11% of the variability in perceptions about cultural relevance can be explained by students viewing school work as too hard. Also, relationships between teachers and cultu ral rele vance stand out but it merely indicates that as teachers fai l to encourage students; behave unfair ly ; do not care about stu dents; or students feel as though they can not talk to the teacher, then the likelihood of students having issues with cultur ally ir releva nt material also increases ( Object 4 1 ) Students simply did not share a strong belief that curriculum materials or instruction that was not culturally relevant to their ethnic background would be relevant for dropping out of school. The dat a did reflect that students who perceived not having culturally relevant materials in school as a factor for dropping out of school also perceived teachers not fail t o provide comfortable environments for students to share concerns with them as factors for dropping out of school. During the interviews, students talked about never having opportunities to discuss their opinions about school curriculum and generally not d iscussing ties to their history except during Black History Month. Increasing the number of lessons taught that provide cultural relevance to students of color could still invoke greater interest in class. Surprisingly, there were few student s who perc eived behavioral disruptions in a major concern for educators. It is possible that teachers are managing classes well,

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105 ee the disruptions as a strong reason to drop out of school. Still, a few meaningful relationships in the area of curriculum are evidenced. C onnections between the difficulty of class work and lack of tutorial assistance are reported as supportive facto rs in making decisions to drop out of school. Similar ly, significance exists between classes being too hard and students failing class ( r =.397, p =.000 ). Fu rthermore, the perception that Black males drop out of school because classes are uninteresting is s trongly tied to the idea that Black males choose to drop out of r =.506, p = .000 r =.565, p = .000 ). P erceptions about culturally relevant teaching practices have a direct relationship w ith work being too hard which in turn is related to lack of tutoring and faili ng classes, therefore, future research related to cultural relevance is worth exploring. The participants in the study did not conclusively show the need for culturally relevant materials to be used during instruction as much as they desired to have culturally friendly relationships with teachers. However, the results suggest that teachers infuse non disruptive cultural behaviors of African American students into their instructio nal practices in an effort to build relationships that encourage students to take part in curricular activities (Bradley, 2007). Student responses reflected a desire for greater encouragement from teachers in relation to working hard in classes. It can b e presumed that teachers with great expectations will push students to reach them as found by Davis and Jordan (1994). Lack of motivation and encouragement from teachers as described the African American male student participants could be viewed as a form of continual oppression (Friere, 2000).

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106 How the Black F amily i s Related to Boys Dropping Out of School Student responses indicate strong correlations between family connections and overall academic performance for African American students. Results indica te a relationship between negative school behaviors and families who do not value education or talk about the importa nce of finishing school For instance, participants who perceive dropping out of school is a result of families not discussing the importa nce of school also think Black [they] [they] miss t [they] do not believe school w not motivated ( Object 4 1 r =.521 p = .000 ) indicates a s tatistically significant relationship between the survey ite m Black males drop out of school because education is not important to Black males drop out of school because their family does not talk about the importance for finishing school Twenty seven percent of the variability in the signific ance of family discussions can be attributed to how valuable families view education to b e, and vice versa. As more students agree about how significant finishing school is to the family, so doe s the perceived overall importance of education to family mem bers. F amilies that do not talk about school o r the value of education are perceived similarly by Black males in this study. Student responses suggest the world of work may have greater value than attending school.

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107 Participant responses d id not yield strong links between future job attain ment and cur rent school attendance. The level of education att ained by parents provides descriptive data The data illustrates participants whose parents earned higher degrees have greater belief in African A lso, d iscove ries made during the interviews suggest the level of education attained by parents is perceived as a significant motivator for Black males to earn a diploma. Similarly, this study indicates participants with higher grade point averages typical ly were from household s where parents attained higher levels of education. Findings reflect that the only significant relationship existing between the highest level of education attained by Object 4 1). Black males drop out because parents need them to work in order to help support the family. Results reflect the need for positive encouragem ent toward students in the form for family discussions about school and family members verbalizing the importance school to Black male students. There are evident relational connections be tween parental influence variable s and others shared in the survey instrument. W hen students think Black males drop out of school because their family does not talk about the imp they are as likely to have conversations about education not being important to their family ( r = .521) where re sponses continue to move in the same direction ; not believing school will help them attain a good job ( r = .455); not being motivated to finish school ( r = .382); parents not contacting the school ( r = .331); having

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108 friends who are not interested in school ( r = .329); connection with drugs ( r = .3 08); classes being too hard ( r = .307); not receiving extra tutorial/help with school work ( r = .230) ; and need to work to help support family ( r = .226) Each was measured at the .01 level of sig nificance and yie lded p values of measures. The researcher hypothesized family situations would determine d ecisions to drop out of school. Data from this study demonstrates relationships between family educational values and student aca demic behavior. Parent student relationships appear to have strong bonds with African American male s why Black boys drop out of school Although the majority of students in the study were involved in extracurricular activities, no parental variables exemplified a linear about the importance of finishing school exhibited no significant linear relationships with any of the demographic variables ( Object 4 1) Although many participants lived in two parent households, evidence of traditional married biological parent serving as the head of household was not evident. Furthermore, most of the Black boys who lived in single parent households were liv ing with someone other than their fathers. The demographics regarding head of household parallel research findings that the structure of African American family households has changed to reflect absent parents (Jewell, 2003; Seccombe, 2000; and Vereen, 20 07). No distinctions about the role of finances can be used to support findings because household income was not included among the demographic variables.

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109 Students clearly identified that, in their opinion, Black boys dropping out of school is somehow rel ated to the lack of discussions that take place with families and lack of concern families appear to have about education. Rothstein (2004) asserts minimal familial discussions take place in Black households and such behaviors are typical because of socia l class distinctions. However, if the leaders of African American families have learned to remain silent in regards to student performance and fail to encourage their children talk about academic achievement then according to results from this study, Blac k students are likely to remain disadvantaged in relation to dropping out of school (Bankston & Caldas, 1998; Friere, 2000; Noguera, 2008; and Rothstein, 2004 Personal E xperiences of Black Males in Terms of Decisions to Drop Out Personal experience variabl es include beliefs about school helping African American males obtain a job being motivated to finish school, identity a s a minority, relationship w ith drugs, victim ization of bully behavior, expectation of becoming a father, involvement with family trag edy, membership in a gang, lack of academic effort, exhibiting laziness, failure to be involved in extracurricular activities and lack of understanding about the importance of school. The assertion made by the researcher was African America n male student s would perceive Black as a reason for dropping out of school. Students who perceived drugs as a factor for quitting school also perceived gang affiliation as a factor. A n analysis of resu indicate s decisions to drop out of school are significantly connected with lack of motivation to finish school, having friends who are not interested in school, failing classes, not showing best effort, lazine ss, relation to

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110 bully beh avior, family tragedy, becoming a teenage father, and not understanding why school is important. Gang affiliation is perceived by participants to negatively impact decisions to stay in school. However, being part of a gang had no correlations with teacher variables ( Object 4 1). Participant responses denote when African American males is listed as an independent variable school success is limited if their perceptions about school are also limited. For inst ance, if Black boys do not know why school is important then they are less motivated to finis h school. Howe ver, the converse is true ; less motivated African American male s tudents have diminished thought s about why school is important. A positive correla tion exists between school achievem ent and personal experiences. In fact, the most significant relationships exist between variables that fall under the category of personal experiences in the survey instrument ( Object 4 1). However, they either have no relationship or very limited significance with demographic variables and those related to teachers. Noguera (2003) summarizes the results regarding the perceptions held about relationships between personal experiences and Black boys dropping out of school; he indicated there should be no element of surprise regarding poor performance in education by African American males in lieu of the hardships they must with the larger society. If the perceptions of students participating in this study persist in larger populations of African American males concerning the links between personal experiences with drugs, gangs, incarceration, teenage pregnancy, etc., and dropping Jordan, 2 003). The pattern of negative behavior represents a cyclical pattern wherein

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111 evidence of negative personal behaviors appears to lead to dropout and dropout may lead to participation in negative behaviors. Although causal relationships cannot be determine d here, it is suggested that the relationship between factors is strong enough to warrant caution with how students become involved in personal experiences and how they identify themselves through their experiences (Cross, 1971, Harper, 2007; Sneed, Schwar tz, & Cross, 2006; and Sue & Sue, 1990) Regression Analysis Linea r regression analysis yielded statistics that exemplified t he probability that particular outcomes were not by c hance The output data are evidenced in Table s 4 1 1 a b, c, and d The reliab ility of y intercepts and coefficients revealed what patterns emerged in the data. P values < .05 had greater probability that output from the various factors was not obtained by chance. Although correlations exist between variables, functions of linear regression determine the strength of individual variables. A linear relationship exists between perceptions held about students failing classes and perceptions of (a) class being too difficult, (b) students feeling un comfortable talking to teachers about s chool related problems, and (c) students not feeling comfortable talking to teachers about personal problems. An examination of the relationship s was conducted using a linear regression model. The model regarding p articipants perceptions about failing c lasses can be predicted by the other three talking to teachers about school related = .001); and comfortable talking to teachers about personal pr = .000). The regression analysis yi elded R 2 = .362 the outcome may be continually predicted by the indep endent variables with 36% probability of accuracy ( Table 4 1 1 a ). The standard error calculated

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112 for the independent variables falls betwee n .057 .068, indicating a limited spread of variation between the variables and that the sample may be determined as a representative of the overall population. Further descriptions about three dependent variables, (1) motivated to finis nd (3 ) relationship with i ndependent variables (Table 4 11 b d) motivated to finish schoo predicted by perceptions that Black males drop out of school because their It is safe to predi ct perceptions about unmotivated students are attributed to perceptions about families who do not discuss the importance of graduation and getting assistance with school work. Secondly significantl y determined by two independent variables at the .01 level o f significance ; the (p = .028). understanding why school is important, and encouraging students to put forth their best effort. Although the independent variables have a positive linear relationship with the predicted variable s they are w eak in the proportion to which the outcomes may be

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113 predicted again (only 25% for motivation, 14% for effort, and 8% for understanding why school is important ; Tables 4 1 1 b, c, and d ). Correlations between variables, as well as linear regression models pro vide similar results regarding the importance of family values on education being linked to student performance. Participants perceive family as a strong variable regarding decisions for showing effort in school. Similarly, relationships are key factors in classrooms between students and their teachers. Relationships with adults appear to have a strong impact upon student behavior in the educational setting. The results gathered in the study do not veer far from data collected during interviews with stu dents Interview responses and quantitative data from the surveys mimic one another as it r elates to African perceptions about why Black boy s drop out of school Open Ended Survey Questions Summarized Participants were asked, W hat makes Black male students want to stay in school? Ninety percent (n=234) of the students shared a response. O ne student clearly summarized many of the responses by writing Others reported involvement in sports, goal of play in g college/ professional athletics earning money by getting good jobs and equipping themselves to take care of family, responsibility as a teen father and/or an interest in girls as typical reasons for staying in school However, other responses included the desire to a chieve goal s, success and fulfill dreams Dreams seem to include earning a diploma, going to college, making Much like res ponses shared during student interviews family members, teache rs, friends and girls were perceived as significant factors for remaining in school

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114 Students w ere asked the converse, as well; Why do YOU think Black male students drop out of school? Eighty nine percent (n=233) of the total students surveyed chose to share additional responses. Students perceived reasons were associated with self worth an d lack of concern about self or education, being unmotivated or lo oking for an easier route to attain money. Drugs gangs, incarceration, and lack of motivation wer e included as primary factors. Additionally, they listed difficulty in class lack of interest in school hanging out with the wrong crowd, trying to be cool with peers and not having parents or teachers encourage them as reasons to leave school Conclu sion Results gathered from the survey reiterate thoughts shared by adult perspectives regarding the dropout phenomena That shows that student perspectives are similar to adults and Black males are capable of adding support to the body of literature that exists. Because the sample population was small, additional studies are needed to generalize findings from the perspective of Black males. Researchers have the ability to empower Black boys by asking to hear their voice and Black boys, in return, have th e authority to grant us understand about factors related to dropping of school. Although in some areas, the survey limited the voice of the students, redevelopment of the instrument may provide greater awareness about the dropout epidemic and efficacy of interventions programs.

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115 Table 4 1 Frequency of r esponses for a ge of participants (n=261) Age Frequency Percent 10 0 0.0% 11 5 1.9% 12 40 15.3% 13 58 22.2% 14 40 15.3% 15 37 14.2% 16 31 11.9% 17 36 13.8% 18 13 5.0% 19 1 0.4% 20 0 0.0% 21 0 0.0% 22 0 0.0% Table 4 2 Frequency of r esponses for g rade level of participants (n=261) Grade level Frequency Percent 6th grade 24 9.2% 7th grade 60 23.0% 8th grade 63 24.1% 9th grade 23 8.8% 10th grade 45 17.2% 11th grade 30 11.5% 12th grade 16 6.1% Table 4 3 Frequency of r esponses for s elf reported unwei ghted grade point average of participants (n=261) GPA Frequency Percent 4.0 and above (A) 101 5.7% 3.50 -3.99 (B+) 31 10.0% 3.00 3.49 (B) 72 22.6% 2.50 2.99 (C+) 8 15.7% 2.0 0 2.49 (C) 6 20.7% 1.50 1.99 (D+) 21 6.9% 1.00 1.49 (D) 15 2.3 % Below 1.00 (F) 0 0.0% 6 16.1%

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116 Table 4 4 Frequency of r esponses for p (n=260 ) Student lives with Frequency Percent Mother and father 10 1 38.8% Mother and her significant other 31 11.9% Single mom 72 27.7% Single dad 8 3.1% Father and significant other 6 2.3% Grandparent(s) 21 8.1% Other relative 15 5.8% Foster parent(s) 0 0.0% Other 6 2.3% Table 4 5 Frequency of r esponses fo r h ighest level of education completed by 59 ) Education level attained Frequency Percent BA or higher 48 18.5% AA 33 12.7% Some college 38 14.7% High school 70 27.0% Dropped out of high school 18 6.9% w 52 20.1% Table 4 6 Frequency of r esponses for h ighest level of education completed by athers (n=260 ) Education level attained Frequency Percent BA or higher 41 15.8% AA 20 7.7% Some college 23 8.8% High school 63 24.2% Dropped out of high school 29 11.2% 84 32.3%

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117 Table 4 7 Frequency of r esponses for i nvolvement in extracurricular activities (n=259 ) Extracurricular activity Frequency Percent None 33 12.7 Band 23 8.9 Basketball 37 14.3 Baseball 144 55.6 Footb all 158 61.0 Golf 7 2.7 School Club 30 11.6 Soccer 22 8.5 Service Learning/Volunteer 8 3.1 Student Government 9 3.5 Swimming 30 11.6 Tennis 6 2.3 Track and Field 64 24.7 Volleyball 9 3.5 Wrestling 18 6.9 Weightlifting 62 23.9 Other 26 10.0 Table 4 8 Frequency of r esponses for d escriptive statistics of demographic variables (n=261) Age Grade level Grade point average Who student lives with at home highest level of education highest level of education Involved in extra curri cular activities Mean 5.43 3.61 4.62 0 2.78 3.49 4.03 1.88 Standard deviation 1.89 5 1.741 2.343 2.065 1.744 1.811 0 .439 Minimum 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 Maximum 10 7 9 9 6 6 3

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118 Table 4 9. Most s trongly c orrelated v ariables s ignificant to a ge d emo graphic Correl ation coeff icient Sig nificance level Variable .924 .000 Grade level .288 .000 Classes are not interesting .261 .000 Students do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about school related problems .256 .000 Teachers do not care abou t them .231 .000 Classes are too large .216 .000 Students do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about personal problems .174 .000 Bullying .173 .005 Who student lives with at home .166 .007 Teachers do not encourage students to work hard .16 6 .007 They got a young lady pregnant/will become a father Table 4 10 Mo st s trongly c orrelated v ariables s ignificant to g rade l evel d emographic Correl ation coeff icient Sig nificance level Variable .924 .000 Age .246 .000 Classes are too large .244 .000 Students do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about personal problems .242 .000 Students do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about school related problems .202 .001 Students are failing classes .185 .003 Teachers do not care abou t them .154 .012 Teachers do not encourage students to work hard .150 .015 Students are being bullied .150 .016 They got a young lady pregnant/will become a father .122 .048 Students do not get tutoring assistance (extra help) with school work Table 4 11 Most strongly correlated v ariables significant to grade point average d emographic Correl ation coeff icient Sig nificance level Variable .297 .000 Highest level of education completed by mother .295 .000 Highest level of education completed by fath er .284 .000 Who student lives with at home .187 .002 They got a young lady pregnant/will become a father .183 .003 Students do not put forth their best effort .149 .016 How important school is to student .146 .018 portant .134 .031 Classes are not interesting

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119 Table 4 12 M ost s trongly c orrelated v ariables s ignificant to emographic Correlation coefficient Significance level Variable .284 .000 Grade Point Average (GPA) .187 .002 How important sc hool is to student .173 .005 Age .152 .014 Parents need to student to work to help support the family .149 .016 Grade level .148 .017 Highest level of education completed by mother .127 .040 Table 4 13 Most s trongly c orrelated v ariables s ignificant with h ighest l evel of e ducation c ompleted by s m other d emographic Correlation coefficient Significance level Variable .471 .000 Highest level of education completed by father .297 .000 Grade Point Av erage (GPA) .238 .000 Parents need to student to work to help support the family .159 .010 Students do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about personal problems .126 .042 Involved in extracurricular activities Table 4 14 Most s trongly c orr elated v ariables s ignificant with h ighest l evel of e ducation c ompleted by s f ather d emographic Correlation coefficient Significance level Variable .471 .000 Highest level of education completed by mother .295 .000 Grade Point Average (GPA) .200 .001 Parents need to student to work to help support the family .170 .006 Involved in extracurricular activities .159 .010 Classes not relevant to culture Table 4 15 Most s trongly c orrelated v ariables s ignificant with i nvolved in e xtracurricular a c tivities d emographic Correlation coefficient Significance level Variable .238 .000 Highest level of education completed by mother .170 .006 Highest level of education completed by father

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120 Table 4 1 6 Top ten correlated variables with most significan t relationships (p = .000) Correlation coefficient Variable 1 (correlated with variable 2) Variable 2 (correlated with variable 1) 924 Age Grade level 690 Gang member Drugs 682 Students do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about school relat ed problems Students do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about personal problems .638 Teachers are unfair Teachers do not care about students .622 Students do not put forth their best effort Drugs .602 Students do not know why school is importa nt Students do not put forth their best effort .594 Students do not know why school is important Students are not involved in extracurricular activities .584 Teachers do not care Teachers do not encourage students to work hard in school .577 Students do not know why school is important Students are lazy .575 Teachers are unfair Teachers do not encourage students to work hard Table 4 1 7 Factors that can be used to predict the most significant relationships Significance Independent variable Dependent variable 0.04167 G rade point average Black males are uncomfortable talking to teachers about problems related to school .534023 Family does NOT talk about the importance of finishing school Education is not important to their family .502 339 Black males do NOT believe school will help them get a good job Education is not important to their family C orrelation Analysis Matrix Object 4 1. Pearson correlation of variables (. pdf 101kb)

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121 Table 4 18 Proportion of variance in outcomes related to failing classe s Model R Square = .36 2 Unstandardized c oefficients Standardized c oefficients t Sig. B Std. e rror Beta 1 (Constant) .086 .183 .471 .638 Classes are too hard .321 .057 .288 5.592 .000 Students do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about school problems 230 .068 .232 3.369 .001 Students do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about personal problems .265 .067 .274 3.987 .000 Dependent Variable: Students are failing classes Table 4 19 Proportion of variance in outcomes related to student motivation Model R Square = .254 Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig. B Std. Error Beta (Constant) .009 .270 .032 .974 Student's family does not talk about the imp ortance of finishing school 240 .065 .239 3.672 .000 Students do not get tutoring/extra help with school work .163 .070 .140 2.323 .021 Dependent Variable: Students are not motivated to finish school

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122 Table 4 20 Proportion of variance in outco mes related to level of effort Model R Square = .143 Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig. B Std. Error Beta (Constant) .961 .279 3.439 .001 Student's family does not talk about the importance of finishing school .183 .070 .189 2.629 .009 Students are not motivated to finish school .258 .065 .267 3.963 .000 Dependent Variable: Students do not put forth their best effort Table 4 21 Proportion of variance in outcomes related to importance of school Model R Square = .296 Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig. B Std. Error Beta (Constant) 1.184 .353 3.352 .001 Student's family does not talk about the importance of finishing school .174 079 .161 2.210 .028 Dependent Variable: Students do not know why school is important

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123 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION Disparities exist between Black and White students that exemplify highly disproportionate numbers of African American male students who drop out of school. The review of research indicates that B lack males are disproportionately represented by high school dropout rates. Multiple intervention strategies have been put in place with attempts to prevent future dropout behavior (Dynarkski, et al., 200 8; Myint et al., 2008 ; Schargel, 2007) Sever al fa ctors are relevant due to the strength of their relationship with dropping out of school. Some of those factors have been shared in the results for this study, including family structure, peer influence, school curriculum, teacher identity and behavior, a nd student m otivation/personal experience). The Ap ex Model, developed by the researcher, will be used as the framework for further discussing the data presented in this study. Thus, findings will be outlined in terms of personal characteristics of Afric an American males and the systems of experience s for youth: (a) school experiences, (b) family experiences, and (c) personal experiences. The conclusion will focus on positively influencing the apex or final decision of Black boys in America regarding dr opping out of school. For the purpose of this research, it must be noted that decisions can be made intentionally or unintentionally, thus doing nothing at all while having a reactive response to the inaction is still termed as a decision. Research based strategies are connected to the systems of experience s as a way to determine best practices suggested for each environment. Student Characteristics The demographic variables, including those which relate to student engagement and academic performance are central to describing a student. School, family and

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124 personal experiences are environmental contributors to the individual student. The way in which a student views dropping out of school can be subject to how those systems interrelate with known variable s about self, such as age, grade level, grade point average, person students live with, and other characteristics used to describe him. Students have a tendency to define themselves within the school culture by how well they achieve academically, level of participation in sports, and groups they participate in. Their level of academic and/or social engagement provides us with a brief representation of the person. Level of engagement, achievement, and self development are discussed in social science literat ure and represent multiple facets of student identity (Balfanz, Herzog, & Maclver, 2 007; Bennett, 2006; Cross, 1991; Darling Hammond, 1997). However, central to this study is how the alterable factors, such as level of engagements, can be ch anged by the r elationships within systems that surround the student. Hence, their decisions are at the constant mercy of surrounding environment s and we should work to provide them with (1) the best systematic factors available or (2) teach them how to make difficult, yet positive decisions in lieu of poor systematic factors. The students in this study are characterized by a summary of demographic variables. The sample size included 261 African American students who were enrolled in secondary schools within the same school district, wherein most participating schools were those that were located outside city limits. Most participants were in middle .2.99 on a 4.00 unweighted scale) and were involved in extracurricular activ ities. Most of the students played foot ball and/or basketball. Household demographic descriptions, indicating that many partic ipants lived

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125 with their mothers is consistent with research findings (Allen, 1995; Jewell, 2003; Jeynes, 2007; Vereen, 2007). A dditionally, many of their mothers completed higher levels of education than fathers on average Many of the students did not know what level of education their fathers completed. Although the data provided some insight, findings did not reflect strong relationships between demographic variables and other factors in the study. However, the survey instrument failed to include questions related data that could have provided useful in understanding the dropout phenomena according investigations by researc hers interested in educat ional reform (Marsh, Chaney, & & Davis, 1999; Rothstein, 2004). I nforma tion related to household income total number of persons living in the household including siblings, free r educed lunch status, specific classes students have failed, if student have been retained, actual GPA versus range, placement in advanced or special educa self concept, could further illuminate relationships be tween demographic characteristics and other factors, to School Experience s Sim ilar to the research executed by persons interested in the effect of school upon dropouts, findings from this study reaffi rmed the notion that teachers impact academic achievement ( Ladson Billings, 1994; Dar ling Hammond, et al., 2007; Paige & Witty, 2010 ). Students perceived relationships with teachers to be an important predictor of decisions to drop out of school These f indings are paralleled to a study by Decker, et al. (2007), where students who exhibited poor behavior and were at risk of being referred to a special education program by their teacher still desired positive student teacher relationships. African America n males participating in this study perceived poor

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126 relationships with teachers as a problem too Findings indicate participants believe students who are uncomfortable talking to teachers about personal or school related problems are more likely to quit sch ool. Additional findings revealed students perceive encouraging students to work hard in school is important Co nsistent with perceptions of Black males in this study is research by Ladson Billings (2009) where teachers exemplifying excellent teaching p ractices include how to use instruction to encourage students to perform academically Thus, f indings from this study reveal that t eachers appear to have great impact upon student effort, as evidenced by African American Tea cher beh aviors are important to students a viewpoint that was echoed by the African American male students who participated in this study The view is considered further on a national scaled, thus identifying teacher preparation and readiness programs as one type of dropout prevention strategy (Schargel & Smink, 2001) However, it is not certain that the relationships students are looking for from teachers can be taught. F indings from the study do not overwhelmingly suggest tha t students perceive feel in gs of oppression from their system of school experiences as argued in educational literature by Freire (2000). African American male students in the study provided very limited support of culturally relevant materials being related to school dropout. Ho wever, c ulturally relevant emphasis is a hot topic in dropout prevention literature. Yet, it can refer to the building of relationships as well as the inclusion of s tories about African Americans in coursework. As Ladson Billings (2009) reminds us, the purpose of using culturally relevant materials is to help African American student s develop an ethnic personality

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127 while choosing academic excellence. Therefore u nderstand ing the ethnic backgrounds and 21 st century behaviors of African American male stude nts may assist in strengthening student teacher relationships Thus far, m isinterpreting behaviors of Black boys has disproportionately place d them in special education programs, a likely inhibitor of strong student teacher rela tionships (Carla & Deluca, 2006; Decker, Donna & Christenson, 2007) This practice may pose a foundation for employing more Africa n American male teachers who might more easily identify with the culture of students in this group. S tudent participants did not perceive that al l of th e factors within the school centered systems of experience s were relate d to dropp ing out of school. However, a Black boy who drops out of school could be related to one significant variable while other factors have no direct impact upon that decision. C onsistent with findings by Bogenschneider (1996) students note d that some factors were more closely associated with the dangerous behavior of dropp ing out of school. However o ther factor s did appear to impede the healthy development of the student Wit hin this operational system, it is likely that poor student teacher relationships place Black boys at greater risk for dropping out of school; however other s imultaneously functioning s ystems can compound the weight of his decision with negative factors or possibly alleviate the issue by introducing positive factors T he findings from this study encourage further explo ration of the systems of experience s that are similar to the conceptual framework for studying student educational performance, developed by Rumberger and Larson (1998) in an attempt to help

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128 Family Experience s Black students answering survey questions in this study, indicated the relationships they have with their family is as important a s student teacher relationships, if not more so. F were per ceived by student participants to have the most signi fic ant relationship with dropping out. How participants perceived the level of interest families had in school related activities/education was similar t o arguments proposed by Rothstein (2004). Students felt strongly that if family members held limited vie ws of education then a strong connection with school dropout behavior existed Altho ugh Comer (1998 ) suggested instead of relying on parents to excel in school Somers, Owens, & Piliawsky (2008) had findings similar to this study suggest ing students truly value family involvement and view it as an important form of support However, this study did not provide questions about personal family interactions outside of the school setting. Detailed descriptions of types of paren tal support desired by students would be useful in further discussing the family systems of experience s fathers were left unclear. The researcher is unsure if students could not determine the a nswer because father s were absent from the household or if limited conversations with the father led to lack of awareness. Assumptions, however, can be made about the necessity to support caring family environments and that Black males s hould be given tim e to share and exchange educational information with their parents. This effort would focus on perceived benefits of having positive conversations about school with parents and/or family members versus simply living in a survival mode to overcome the

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129 non cohesive family structures that are in place, as suggested by Vereen (2007). Although the perspective of the latter is to indicate the strength and resiliency of African American students, this study relies upon the perceptions of the participants as an e ffort to suggest or implement the most needed support measures. Because p arents generally serve as the first rol e models for student s, living w ith uneducated parents may de value education in the eyes of their children. Similar to the opini on of Floyd (1 996), findings from this study suggest positive adult role models can be significant for resiliency, as well as maint aining a warm and stable home, and enhancing academic outcomes. At the same time lessened exposure to education or h igh income does not a utomatically imply children will have nega tive values or that family discussions about the ne ed for academic success or employment will be absent from the home. Family systems have tremendous impact on children, as evidenced by the shared perceptions of African American males in this study. In relation to thoughts about dropping out of school, students perceive conversations with parents to be invaluable assets However, Rothstein (2004) reminds us that many African American families do ly therefore we can expect to see many of those talk missing from Black homes unless they are guided toward new practices Consequently when students are influ enced by factors from other sy stems, such as poor relationships with teach ers (school experiences) or are characterized by low academic achievement and limited social engagement (student characteristics), they may not have t he option of having a discussing concerns with their parent (f amily experiences). The result could be related

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130 to a negative apex (i.e. dropping out of school ) Another important factor that arose from data was peer relationships (personal experiences), which add another dimension to the discussion regarding Black b oys dropping out of school. Personal Experienc e s Findings revealed that some males in secondary school perceived maintain relationships with or hanging out is related to dropping out of school Likewise, F or dham and Ogbu (1986) argue peer relationships are strong making the case that peers have power to dissuade academic success. Still findings from this study suggest peers have the ability to persuade participation in other negative behaviors, including d ropping out of school. Additional gangs is related to dropping out of school. Interestingly, gang membership typically is viewed as an alternate family system for most of its members. Although gang affiliation is categorized within the system of persona l experiences, it could represent a double threat because it is valued within the system of family experiences, as well. The survey instrument listed multiple factors w ithin the category, i ncluding at least ten factors that could permeate another operating system with bi directional influence, have direct impact upon the student or remain stagnant yielding no influence The experience measure wher e multilevel environmental systems are operating simultaneously and have influence upon each other is c onsistent with ecological theory or the ecology of education described by Bronfenbrenner (1976). As we discuss personal experiences, findings regarding that system must be noted. African American male students perceived the p rimary factors related to dropping out of school to be laziness, lack of motivation, and failure to understand the importance of

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131 school. These variables may be tied to high other fac tors that illicit stress for teenagers, such as drugs, b ecoming a father, experiencing a tragedy, bullying behavior, and/or non involvement with extracurricular activities ( lacking a sense of belonging). These variables have incredible power because the y i nevitably involve someone else and extend to other systems of experience s impacting their views of multiple factors related activities as evidenced in research by Sing, Chang, & Dika (2010). W hen multiple factors are operating and maintaining influence upon the student, increased reactive options are available, one of which may be dropping out of school. Changing the Apex: Deciding to Remain in School and Earn a Diploma The goal of this researc h was to explore the perceptions of African American males in an effort to identify what factors are related to dropping out of school. Knowing what factors influence decisions to drop out could facilitate a change in Black boys making a healthier decisio n to graduate instead. Therefore, efforts for the development of dropout prevention strategies are needed (Bridgeland, Didulio, & Morrison 2006; Dynarski et al, 2008; Schargel, 2007). America cannot afford to maintain alarmingly high rates of African Am erican male students dro p p ing out of school. The actual economic costs are detrimental to our society (Balfanz, et al., 2009; Thorstensen, 2004) A frican American male students should experience similar rates of success as White peers and be afforded th e same soc ial emotional benefits. R esearch related to the achievement gap has direct impact on schooling practices, school guidance support, and family influence. The educational system should be used as a vehicle to promote the academic advancement of m inori ty populations (Fr e i re, 2000). Including the

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132 perspectives of African American male students is necessary to foster impactful change Students should be given the opportunity to help shape their education (Cook Sather, 2006). Their insights may sign ificantly impact educational reform and help resol ve the dropout epidemic portrayed by Black males. Our greatest challenge is improving the academic achievement of Black students (Ladson Billings, 1994). From the narrow pers pective of five students who we re interviewed during the pilot study we captured a glimpse of perceptions held by Black male students in regards dropping out of secondary school. The interviewees insisted that students were falling behind in classes, lack ed encouragement ( especially f rom family members), and beca me preoccupied with things outside of school Moreover, they s pecif ied Black male with drugs and teenage pregnancy, and conclude d Black boys often lack ed self confidence. The interviews also revealed t hat f alling behi nd in school further perpetuated negative feelings about school and di fferences in work ethic, level of self confidence peer group association s, and family support wer e the primary factors that differentiate d successful and unsuccessful st udents. Although several factors can be related to dropping out of school, findings demonstrate all experiences are not similar in terms of having strong relati onships with dropout Furthermore, Cooper (2009) reiterates the basis of the theoretical fram ework outlined for t his study when stating that factors within the process are alterable and could lea d to academic success. The process follows the framework of ecological risk/prote ctive theory that predicts Black males students are capable of participa ting in an area of healthy development (Bogenschneider, 1996). The findings of this research

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133 substantiate the idea that participants do not succumb t o beliefs that dropping out of school is related to every env ironmental or systematic factor Responses u ndoubtedly indicated that Black boys need to willingly devote effort toward academic success and use programs that were already in place to assist students with tutorial and remediation opportunities (e.g. making up credits ) Student perceptions regarding African American males ability to exhibit good academic performance is synon ymous with research which focused on the highly successful academic outcomes of Black students and their resiliency to systematic challenges (Marsh, Chaney, & Jones, 2012) Furthe rmore, programs and other strategic measures are in place to assist African American youth who are interested in achieving school success despite disproportionately high number s of Black males still drop ping out of school (Schargel & Smink, 2001). Addition al data from the interviews regarding social emotional factors, family influence, student teacher relationships and communication, teaching methods, and school environments can be found in the transcriptions and summarized results (Appendices D & F). The ir responses led to the development of the survey instrument and did not veer far from the summarized perspectives of an ad ditional 261 Black male students The challenge of helping African American students come a conclusion other than dropping out of sch ool is enormous. The rate at which Black boys are currently participating in school dropout is overwhelming. However, by understanding the relationships between systems that influence them, we have a greater chance at helping Black boys come to another d ecision. This assertion coincides with the social

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134 psychological research theories that embrace idea s of building frameworks from which a person views the world (Ban dura, 1986; Cross, 1971; Sue & Sue, 1990). Ultimately, we want African American male studen ts to share their perceptions about school, family and personal factors that play a major role in the dropout crisis realizing their perceptions are formed by their experiences. Marsh & Shavelson (1985) concur with the idea that student perceptions are s haped by their experiences and the surrounding environment, they further expound by saying those perceptions are also influenced by how others evaluate their environments. Without individuality, only one student would need to share in the discourse regard ing dropping out of school. T he differences of F indings derived from the student perceptions of Black males in this study are valued and trusted because they are viewed as expe rts in regards to how they are individually influenced by their surrounding environments (Certo, Cauley, & Chafin, 2003; Cook Sath er, 2002; DeFur & Korinek, 2010; Mitra, 2004; Smyth, 2006; Steinberg & McCray, 2012) Implications for Research The African American male students in this stu dy have clearly identified factors they perceive to be associated with dropping out of school consistent with findings by Cooper and Jordan (2003). Their perceptions provide implications for future research. Additional studies are needed regarding how social/emotional factors are tied to dropping out of school. Much of the educational research regarding students who drop out of school focuses on academic/instructional factors (school experiences) and familial support ( family experiences), but school reform research cannot leave social/emotional facto rs (personal experiences) to psychologists alone.

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135 Middle and high school students chose to answer additional questions. Findings indicate th eir heightened perception of d rugs gangs, incarceration and teenage pregnancy being related to decisions to drop out of school consistent with findings by Coo p er and Jordan, 2003 Often, educational policy negates conversations about how schools must address these issues. Although each factor mentioned is extraneous to school system s of experience they each have significance as they bear weight in the minds of African American male students, a nd thereby, should have greater emphasis in school reform literature. Negative factors hi ghlighted in the system of personal experiences, such as drug use are often linked with low self esteem, low self concept, depression and other mental health concerns that should be addressed in future educational studies. That type of research is suppo rted by Robinson and Brown (2006) who shared that responding to the psycho social development levels of students is a necessity when trying to increase academic performance outcomes. The findings of this study confirm our need for the current body of resea rch as it relates to teacher relationships but what is of utmost value is continual study of the perceptions African American male learners have about that relationship While enrolled in secondary schools and expecting to complete the same re quirements for any student who look s like them (in terms of b ecoming dropouts), is priceless Future research should consider additional Black male perspectives. Future Research Questions to Consider: W hat demographic factors ( student characteristics ) are most related to Black boys dropping out of school according to the perceptions of African American males?

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136 What social emotional/mental health factors (i.e., self confidence, self identity, depression, disability status, personality construction, etc.) are related to lack boys dropping out of school according to the perceptions of African American male s? What motivational factors are related to Black boys dropping out of school or attaining success acade mic achievement outcomes according to the perceptions of African American males ? What factors of academic/social levels of engagement are related to Black male students dropping out of school according to African American males ? What concerns with dropout prevention/intervention programs are most related to Black males dropping out of school as perceived by African American male students? What factors are most related to Black boys dropping out of school according to African American females? Future researc h should include in depth conversations with students to explore student expectations. However, consideration for conversations with adults is considers to get perspectives from past vs. present schooling experiences of African American students. Additio nally, an increase d number of students should participate and additional demographic variables should be included when surveying students for richer responses to be collected Lastly, the view point of women good provide strong data as many of the male st udents grow up in female headed households, attend school with female educators, and simply are surrounded by a lot of girls/women throughout life. Implications for Practice After considering student perceptions and factors operating within the systems of The Apex Model, several suggestions are made for working with Black males students. However, it is imperative that we keep in mind that the systems themselves continue to evolve an d changes may require new strategies about how to address student needs (Br onfenbrenner, 1976). The three systems of experience s are characterized by factors

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137 that influence decisions to drop out of school. In an effort to frame suggestions within those contexts, implications for practices have been categorized in a manner that best addresses the factors of each individual system. However, interventions can also directly or indirectly influence another system; hopefully that yields better results in an unexpected area. Please consider the following as practices to facilitate st udents in the development of a better educational choice; persisting in school through graduation. School Experiences (Teacher Leaders and School Guidance Programs) Student Teacher Communication C ommunication skills between student s and teacher s must be further developed. Similar to the findings by Decker, et al. (2007), this study encourages further development of positive student teacher relationships and interventions to improve the quality of academic achievement. Freire (2000) further supports the i dea of student teacher dialogue to build relationships, but suggests teacher s be willing to give up some control. F indings imply staff development is needed for teachers and school guidance programs may be essential to help students build better relations with teachers (Moule & Higgins, 2007; Sleeter, 2001) Character Building Units A ssumptions made from data collection indicate school guidance programs should provide strong character building units about self awareness, self esteem, positive attitude a nd communication in secondary programs. Many of these traits are often left as the focus of elementary and only sometimes found in middle school programs. Because the data continue to reveal the importance of relationships with Black male students, implic ations for relationship building is implied in the study ; it is suggested that school guidance departments and stud assist with this goal Myint, et al. (2008) delivers core dropout prevention strategies that include social and emotiona l learning curricu lu m.

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138 T est Preparation/Study Skills S tudents would benefit from test preparation sessions and learning how to study correctly, building a skill set for devoting effort toward academic achievement that was considered a factor of dropout according to student perceptions ; Dynarski, et al. (2008) fosters support for including extra study time as an intervention for dropping out of school. Tutorials /Academic Assistance T utorial sessions should be available for students in an effort to prov ide academic assistance, es pecially when work is difficult. Findings from this study indicated students perceived teachers not encouraging students to work hard as a factor related to dropping out of school. Similarly, students who gave little effort wer e perceived as closely related to dropout. In response, providing tutorial sessions, gives t eachers an additional opportunity to encourage students. Furthermore, to combat underachievement, teachers should challenge students in curriculum areas despite socioeconomic status in an effort to raise achievement expec tations and promote hardworking students ( Garibaldi, 1992; Noguera, 2003 ; Perry, Steele, & Hilliard, 2003 ; Schargel, 2007 ). If teachers are wi lling to help students and provide rigorous instructi on there should not be a problem; however, teachers should recognize that their failure to believe that they can effect change generally inhibits change from taking place in relation to academic achiev e ment (Davis & Jordan, 1994). Personal Experiences ( Com munity Influence) Community Mentorship F indings from this study highlighted the importance of relationships among all variables, student teacher, family, and peers. In cases where students may have broken relationships or poor roles modes, an mentor co uld serve as a benefit. In addition, m entorship by community members may be a great way to infuse

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139 support for students without requiring more work from faculty/staff members at school. Also, mentors can provide support and encouragement needed by student s, thus building a stronger foundation for positive relationships and fostering school community relations. Decker, et al. (2007) contend trying to understand the feelings of students at early ages is helpful in building relationships. Counseling Services P oor peer relations and lack of encouragement were perceived as factors related to dropout by student responses, lending to the notion that counseling services would benefit students. Family Experiences (Parent Education and Communication) Family Counse ling F indings indicate students estimate B lack males tend to listen to their family member s more than anyone else; therefore, building healthy forms of dyadic communication is warranted. Myint, et al. (2008) suggests engaging and supporting families, as well as case management coordination as a core prevention drop out strategy. Family Night Gatherings/Adult Courses S chools should consider creating opportunities for parents to visit schools to learn more about ways to assist with academic excellence fo r their children. Schools could offer adult education courses, technical skill classes, educational technology information, and/or career information for adults. Parents may foster greater value in education when schools assist them as adults, even if on ly offering space on campus for classes or by advertising appropriate devote more effort to their own schooling. The research by Sampson (2002) values the family and sc hool, hence their interaction is significant. Additionally, Schargel (2007)

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140 shares fifteen effective strategies for dropout prevention that includes school community relations. Parent Workshop s S chool s should provide opportunities for families to engage in discussions about factors related to education. Because students reported little connectedness between education and future job attainment, parents should be invited to attend sessions about graduation requirements, college entrance requirements, fina ncial aid opportunities as well as receive information about good study habits. Richardson and Gerlach (1980 ) interviewed Black students for the purpose of dropout prevention and they found that the greatest cause of dropping out of school was students no t perceiving education as vehicle for future opportunities yielding support for this interven t ion Furthermore, Schargel (2007) provides fifteen effective strategies for dropout prevention, including family engagement The greatest implication for practi ce discovered through this study is to increase the number of discussions held with students about educational concerns The first it of data received was collected through interviews; from it we learned that having even one student report that they never had anyone ask for, or earnestly listen to, their thoughts about student success for African American students is one too many It is evident that our Black male students are willing to talk to us. Therefore, we must take the initiative to invite them t o participate in possibly the most revolutionizing conversation in American history

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141 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT FOR PILOT PARTICIPANTS Protocol Title: Factors Associated with African American Male Students Not Meeting Minimum Requirements for Florida Hi gh School Graduation Please read this document carefully before you decide to participate in the study. Purpose of the research study: To understand African perceptions and attitudes toward the dropout phenomena and how his/her experi ences provide or limit motivation to continue towards success. The results will provide information for the future design curriculum and educational practices. What you will be asked to do in this study: You will be asked to answer approximately ten que stions in an interview about personal experiences related to school, information about the school environment and any support structures that exist or are desired in relation to student achievement. The interview will be audio taped and transcribed. Time Required: 45 minutes one hour Risks and benefits: The benefit of this research is to describe and understand the perspectives of various key factors in the dropout phenomena of our Black male students and to predict possible outcomes for future stude nts enrolling in high school. Results will direct implementation of strategies for success. No more than minimal risk anticipated. Compensation: There is no compensation for participating in this research. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by the law. Your interviews will be coded with pseudonyms. The list connecting your name to the When the study is complete and the data has been analyzed, the list will be destroyed. It is possible that the final results of this study will be presented in educational conferences and may even be published. Voluntary Participation: Your participation in this study is completely volu ntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Whom to contact about your righ ts as a research participant in the study:

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142 Agreement: I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant:________________________________________ Date: ____________ Parent/Guardian: ____ _______________________________ Date: ____________ Principal Investigator:_______________________________ Date: __________ __

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143 APPENDIX B INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR PILOT PARTICIPAN TS ________ ____ and I will be conduct ing the interview today on factors associated to African American dropout among male high school students. I am very interested to learn about your thoughts regarding this phenomenon and understand your perspective about strategi es you feel will help students graduate. Hopefully, your feedback will allow me to get a clearer understanding of how various persons in a learning community feel regarding this topic. The in sight you provide may guide the way future strategies are us ed to support African American males succeed. I will be audio taping the interview session for clarity and as to not forget the very important information you share. Plea se make yourself comfortable. Are you ready to begin? 1. Please share your thoughts about the connection between high school dropout and African American students. 2. What factors lead to high school dropout? 3. What differences do you think exist between succ essful and unsuccessful African American students? 4. Are you currently failing any classes? / Why are you failing classes now or in the past? (if you have not failed courses, what has led to your constant academic success?) 5. What can b e done to help students get back on track in order to graduate from high school? 6. What do y ou believe influences student performance on exams/standardized tests? 7. How do teachers impact learning? 8. Think about a period of time when you were successful in school. What factors contributed to your success? 9. If there is one thing you could change ab out the school day or school environment to help you succeed, what would it be? 10. Describe a person in your life outside of school that motivates you to achieve in the classroom. What do they do to help you? 11. Describe a time when someone asked for/earnestl y listened to your thoughts about student success for African American students.

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144 APPENDIX C TRANSCRIPTION OF INT ERVIEWS WITH PILOT P ARTICIPANTS Renard Investigator ( I ) : Please share your thoughts about the connection between high school dropout and Africa n American students. Renard: Um, well I think African American students probably drop out more than the since they were little and their parents probably have like more mo ney to help guide them through high school and college, uh aah, on the other hand African American ork to help take care of the family I: S o when you go to school you really feel like more White students have more money than Black students? Renard: I: O k. Clears throat. What factors le ad to high school dropout? Renard: U m, p arents not being around um, the males can tend to get a female pregnant and they just want to run away and not take care of their child and drugs and abuse can have somethin to do wit it I: Do you know people where that has actually happened or is that just an idea that you have? Renard: Just an idea from what I have seen I: What differences do you think exist between succ essful and unsuccessful African American students? Renard: Going to school and payin g attention and actually listening to the teacher and then you have some students in the class that just want to be class clowns and just I: S o the class clowns are the ones who are what, succe ssful or unsuccessful? Renard: unsuccessful and the ones who sit at the front of the class and listen and pay attention and ask questions to understand the work are successful I: ok. Are you currently failing any classes?

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145 Renard: N o. I: O k. Um, ha ve you failed classes in the past? Renard: I: W hat do you think contributed to you being a good student? Does your family have a lot of money? Renard: Not really, but just going to school and not being a class cl own and know what it takes to be dedicated to hard work and having good parent guidance behind you. I: O k. Clears throat. What can be done to help students get back on track to help them graduate from high school? Renard: S ome students be scared to a sk for help and they really know they need it need some guidance to help them. I: W hat kind of guidance? Renard: Like, like studying tips and parents at home can also help. I: O al luded to twice now parents needing to help at home. What do you, what is it that you think that parents should be doing? Renard : like payi in school and what kinds of grades they are making and do they need help, do they need tutors. I: O t ake in school or standardized tests like FCAT? (uh) or ACT, SAT Renard: get enough rest, um, eat a good breakfast. Come to the testing site prepared and ready and not putting to o I going to fail, ju st take the test, focus, and be confident that you are going to do well. I: How do teachers impact learning? Renard: Teachers give you guidance to help you throughout your whole high school not doing so well in a want to become when you grow up

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146 I: Do you think they are able to impact it negatively in any way? Renard: ts say it is negative is cause if they, if I: Ok. Think about a period of time when you were successful in school. What factors contributed to your success? Rena rd: Hard work. Going home studying, um, asking my teachers for help and even sometimes asking other classmates because they understand it more than I do, then I can go get help from them. I: O k. If there is one thing that you could change about the sc hool day or school environment to help you succeed, what would it be? Renard: More one on one help with students cuz like some students want to want to learn and want to go to college and if they can come and get that one on one help with the teacher the n they can help them and give them more guidance to go and pursue what they want to be in life. I: What hinders that from being available now? Renard: when they know it s r ight there waiting on them I: O k. Describe a person in your life outside of school that motivates you to achieve in the classroom. What do they do to help you? Renard: My aunties, because both of them, well one of them have gone to college and she ha my family to see someone in my family is doing well it makes me want to do well and go to co llege to. I: O k. Describe a time when someone asked for or earnestly listened to your thoughts ab out student success for African American students. Renard: S ilence. U uuummm. like in the classroom? Like, you mean like (uumm) like in the class, having a classroom discussion? I: L ike anyone who has listened to your thought s regarding success for African American students. Renard: Well, mainly it would be during Black History Month when when in class when having classroom discussion and like the whol e class gets involved about African

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147 Americans and they and we just talk about the history mostly about Martin Luther King, I: U mm huh. Ok. Is there anything that maybe I did not ask that you feel i s important for me to know regarding success or lack of success for African American males in school? Renard: I: Ok. Thank you. Jamal I: Please share your thoughts about the connection between high school dropout and African American studen ts. Jamal: anymore. I: Ok. How do you think drugs or peer pressure affect dropout? Jamal: Cuz they find something that they want to do, basically money and if you go to school no money so I: Ok. What factors lead to high school dropout? Jamal: Uhh. (what kinds of things do you think lead to high school dropout in general?) Like, they just quit coming to school (umm hm) like they grades low and th ey just give up. I: Ok. What differences do you think exist between succ essful and unsuccessful African American students? Jamal: Successful people are like confident about they self and they want to succeed in life. Unsuccessful people, A frican Amer live. I: Ok. So you think students who are unsuccessful in school who are African American Jamal: Well they probably care but they think I: O k. Are you currently failing any classes? Jamal: No. I: O k. Why are you failing classes now or have you failed classes in the past?

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148 Jamal: I: O has led to your constant academic success? Jamal: My parent. I: How so? How does your parent help you to be successful the entire time that you have been in school? Jamal : Like, umm, she sometimes stays strict, like stays strict on me and makes sure I do what I gotta do, not be like some these people, like on the streets so I can be like a succesa, successful person I: Ok, umm, so when you say strict do you mean just academics or like Jamal: Academics wise I: Ok. What can be done to help studen ts get back on track to help them graduate from high school? Jamal: Like (pause), what you mean? I: Anything you feel would help students get back into a place where they might be able to graduate from high school, like for instance if they felt like t you believe could be done to help them get back on track and help them graduate? Jamal: Ummm(pause). Like classes on their level, that th at can help them. Like build up build up their confidence so they can come back to regular class and be able to better before they be on regular in classes, basicall y like ESE or something I: take in school or standardized tests like FCAT, ACT, SAT, what kinds of things do you believe influence how a student performs on those kinds of tests? Jamal: U h (pause), what you mean? I: What kinds of things do you believe influence their performance, how well they do? Jamal: Uh (pause), basically their classes, but not necessarily their classes, but how pertaining to the FCAT that would help them get it.

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149 I: U Jamal: Kind of. I: Ok. Could you explain it to me a little bit more clearly please? Jamal: I: Jamal: g with a kid, well not necessarily how to get along with them, but like know how to communicate with a kid, essful than tryin to like (pause) overuse your authority (uh hmm) I: Ok. Think about a period of time when you were successful in school. What factors contributed to your success? Jamal: (P ause ) Mmm. Long pause. I can; think of a time. Uhmm. My eighth grade hmm) so I could have the highest one like uhh that and playing sports helped me keep my grades up too. I: How so? Jamal: t have the grade I: Ok. So you were motivated by sports and you were competitive because you wanted thing that you could change about the school day or school envi ronment to help you succeed, what would it be? Jamal: I: Well, what is it that you like about it that helps you succeed now?

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150 Jamal: Like all my classes, they are small right now (hm I: O k. Describe a person in your life outside of school that motivates you to achieve in the classroom. Jamal: My mother. I: What do they do to help you? Jamal: She like, pause, like I said earlier, she try to stay strict like so. And then she gives, like. Pause. Gives, like not tell stories, but gives examples of people who like get good grades and you do, and like, you go to college and be go successful like unclear statement I: Ok. And this is our last question. Describe a time when someone asked for or earnestly listened to your thoughts about studen t succes s for African American students. Jamal: Right now. I: Not a time prior to, a time before now? Jamal: I: Ok. Are there any other things that you feel I should have asked you or insight that you can give about African American males and students who drop, uhmm, or students Jamal: I: Ok. Alright, thank you. Whitton I: Please share your thoughts about the connection between high school dropout and African American students. Whitton: Well, I think that with African Americans, we, I think that we sometimes, how can I say uhm, pause, uhm, long pause I: Whatever you truly think is There is no right or wrong answer. Pause. Share your thoughts about the connection

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151 between h igh school dropouts and African American students. How do you think those two things are connected? H ow do you feel about African American students and high school dropout? Whitton : Well, a lot of times, sex Us Black people or Black males, we uhmm, a lot of us play sports and I think that we get caught up on, not only sports, but things on the outside of school which causes us to fall behind (uh hmm) and in our credits and things career. I think that we uhmm find ourselves slipping and I guess we just decide to dropo ut. I: Ok. What factors lead to high school dropout? What kinds of things? Whitton: Well, pregnancy. I will say credits, uhm, the environment, and I guess you could say, say where you come come from. (mm huh) Cause a lot of times you can have stude nts who, I guess if their parents have I guess you can say their parents I: Uh hmm. You said earlier the e nvironment. What kinds of things about the environment? Whitton: Well you can, I mean, the environment based on, like, you can have a school school. It can be the peopl e, like, have different clicks (uh hmm) and things like that. You can have this click over here who, I guess the guys who always talking about this and that person (uh hmm). It can be that type of thing, environment which causes a kid to not wanna be at a school like this and it could cause them to drop out (uh hmm. Okay.) I: What differences do you think exist between succ essful and unsuccessful African American students? Whitton: Uhmm. What do you mean by that? I: For those kids who succeed acad emically in school who, for Black males, Black kids who succeed, what do you think the differences are between them and the ones that good grades and the ones who do not? Whitton: Well. Pause. Difference? I really think it could have a lot to do with who you around, well again, where you come from also (uhm hmm). I: How does who you ha ng around influence whether you are successful in classes or with grades or not?

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152 Whitton: Well, you could be around, like I said earlier with the click who loves to joke around and pick at other people, which most of the time those be the type of kids wh o hmm. Okay). I: Are you currently failing any classes? Whitton: I: Have you failed classes in the past? Whitton: I: If you have not failed courses, what has led to your constant academic success? Whitton: Well, I guess. Pause. W uhmm. Pause. Well, I guess uh, once I set back in ninth grade, and when I really found out, I never was a failing student, but when I found out when I got in ninth grade I and u hmm I can succeed and be better (uh hmm. Ok.) I: So when you found grades then you, it motivated you to wanna have to continue to get good grades? Whitton: kay.) I: Uhmm, what can de done to help students get back on track in order to g raduate from high school? Whitton: Well. Pause. What can be done uhh? Well really. Pause. There are some things that that are kind of uhmm, that they can do like, for instance the CROP Program, the credit retrieval, that is something that can help them get back up, uhmm, you just gotta be willing to want to do better (uh hmm). I: What do you suppose would keep people from having that willingness or desire to do better? Like what would make somebody who is an African American male say. well. Whitton: Well, it could be, uhmm, it could be, they could be going through someth ing have those things outside of school that they want to do (uh hmm) like maybe selling drugs or (uh hmm) or using them (uh hmm) that could be why (uh hmm, okay.).

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153 I : Where there any other things you were going to say in terms of helping students get back on track to graduate from high school? You said they could do CROP. Is there anything else they could do to get back on track? Whitton: also night school, which they can uhmm. Pause. They they really want to they can even, like talking to different ones in there like staff (uh hmm). Differe nt things like that they can do different stuff if they really want to get back on track I do believe they can (Okay.). I: Uhmm, what do you believe influences student performance on exams, like tests in their classes or on standardized tests like FCAT o r ACT or SAT? What influences how well they do on those kinds of tests? Whitton: ( Pause ) Well, I think what influences them to do, you said well right? (uh hmm) I think what influences them to do well is the way they walk into the room, the way the I think if you go in there which your head on straight believe in your self that y ou can do this (uh hmm) and get it done, then you can succeed (Okay.). I: Uhhmmm. Does that mean that because ther e are so many people or African American males who are not doing well that you perceive that many of those students are going into those ki nds of exams saying I am going to fail? Whitton: ( Pause ) themselves for the test. (Uh hmm). So, either one of those. (Okay). I: How do teachers i mpact learning for, for African America n males? How do teachers impact learning? Whitton: I : However you feel like they influence or impact or have anything to do with the learning process. Where do teachers fall with that? Pause. In that, how do they impact i t? Whether it be good or bad. Whitton: Uhmm. Pause. Well, you, I guess you say they. We have different teachers can really have an impact on you, uhm. Pause. Like for instance, uhmm, Mr. Kalis, out yells at you, and gets your attention, just to make sure you understand, but you just, you teacher (uh hmm) and uhmm, I guess just the way, basically, just the way you teach (uh hmm).

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154 I: In terms of getting attention ooor when you say the way you teach are you talking whether they write on the b oard or stand up and talk or just sit behind their desk or because they give you activities or the way they teach and how they treat you as a person or yelling at you or not yelling at you? What do you mean, the way they teach? Whitton: Well, like you s helps out cause it also allows students to be able to to to see and show them (uh hmm) and so they see you give them examples (uh hmm) so they can understand it hen you can you know, I guess you can get with them one on one, and those type of things, I guess makes a teacher, I guess, better (Okay.). I: Think about a period of time when you were successful in school. What factors contributed to your success? W hitton: Uhmm. Pause. Motivation. Self confidence. (uh hmm. Okay.) I: Whitton: always stayed on my case through since I was a child. Everyday I would come in and I would have to sit at the table and and do my work before I could go outside and do anything and those types of things (uh hmm) helped me to be successful (uh hmm) today (Okay). I: If there is one thing you cou ld change about the school day or school environment to help you succeed, what would it be? Whitton: Hhhm. I: O know. Uhmm, the schools in general, anything you can change about the school day or school environment to help you succeed, what would it be? Whitton: change if I could because to m e everything is fine to me (uh hmm) so, I would, well the lunches (laughter, ok), the lunch, I would change that if I could (Okay). I: Are there things you hear your friends say that, that they know they would do better or just people in general would do better if this one thing could be changed? Whitton: Well, I hear them talk about different teachers a lot. I wish we had this teacher or I wish they get rid of her or him (uh hmm), those types of things. (Okay.) I: Describe a person in your life outsi de of school that motivates you to achieve in the classroom. What do they do to help you?

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155 Whitton: Hmm. Well, like I said, my mother. She is that person who has uhmm, pause, that person who motivated me (uh hmm) throughout my whole school career and s he still do today. Like the things that she, she has done, like I said earlier, like she stayed on my case about doing my homework before I do anything else and she was just always there for me, by my side, just, just telling me, even when I did go, go th rough with different things, uhmm, such as grades, never was bad grades, but different things, but she felt that I could do better, she just always told me do to better, that you gotta have faith in everything you do (uh hmm. Okay.) I: Describe a time w hen someone asked for or earnestly listened to your thoughts ab out student success for African American students. Whitton: anyone asking me about African American, well the su ccess of them (uh hmm. Okay.) I: to be able to say regar ding, uhmm, dropout and African American males that you can add now? Whitton: Not at all. I: Thank you. Wh itton: Robbie Robbie: I believe that most Africa American students drop out because of money. You know what I mean? They are influenced by the drug dealers in the neighborhood er. I: Oh ok, wow! So you think that kids is that o o do you feel as though or are you why they need fast money Robbie: Naah, I mean in this age people want to look g ood and an and and believe down. I: Ok. What factors lead to high school dropout? Robbie: Uhh failing classes (uh hmm) and influence by people in the hood (uh hmm) I mean like the drug dealers you see on the corners with the nice cars and all the jewelry and the girls. I mean they easily influenced.

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156 I: Ok. What differences do you think exist between succ essful and unsuccessful African American students? Robbie: Well successful African American students I mean they go farther (uh hmm) I mean its like you drop out of school its only that much that you can go (uh hmm) I mean e way I feel I : What about those that are already in high school? When you look at the difference between the ones that are succeeding right now in classes and the ones are not, why do you, like why do you think there is a difference there? Robbie: I believe like some people have different work ethics (uh hmm) I mean some elementary (u I: Ok. Are you currently failing any classes? Robbie: Not now. I: Ok. Why are you failing classes now or have you failed classes in the past? Robbie: Like this past school year? I : A ny any (or p resent?) time ever (oh) in school. Why would you have failed classes before? Robbie: Being lazy not doing homework (laughs, not doing homework?) well not this year, but (laughter) past years. I: Ok. Clears throat. What would cause one to be lazy an required or requested of them in school? Robbie: Just getting home and wanting to get home and get on the computer and play games (uh hmm) just easily distracted. I: Ok. What can be done to help students get back on track in order to graduate from high school? Robbie: Stay focused and listen to all your teachers and get good and like get on good standards wit I: Explain to me get on good or get in good standing.

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157 R obbie: Like, like nowadays like teachers, talk to teachers like all types of ways like I : What do you believe influences stude nt performance on exams of standardized tests? Robbie: Uhh. Not enough sleep (uh hmm). Not enough sleep and then breakfast (uh hmm). I mean sometimes they just get here ready to take the exam, but not fully ready (uh huh). Well, so they just take it and hope they do good (just walk and just) just (take the test) just walk in (ok). I: How do teachers impact learning? Robbie: Well the teachers here (hmm huh) they focus a lot on the same thing to make sure you get it right (uh hmm) well so, I mean li ke Ms. D andelion she hits that same pretty good in it. I : Ok, good. Umm. Clears throat. Is there any way teachers impact learning in a negative way or do you thi nk they are all positive? Robbie: I think they are all positive. I mean like Mr. K arate might have a negative I: think about a period of time when you were successful in school. What factors contributed to your success? Robbie: I: Uh h you and asking questions, you stay focused more. (yeah) Ok. And I want to succeed and (uh hmm unclear statement) Ok. If there is one thing you could change about the sch ool day or school environment to help you succeed, what would it be? Robbie: I: Ok. Can I go back for a moment to when you expressed about family, if your family was uninterested cause you to become unmotivated? Robbie: to church a lot and find the motivation I need.

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158 I: Alright. Describe a person in your life outside of school that motivates you to ach ieve in the classroom. (Pause). A nd what do they do to help you? Robbie. ( Pause ) (mm hmm) Like he never finished father. I: Ok. What exactly is he doing though to encourage to not make that mistake or to help you like Robbie: and basically my school work. Everyday I call him if I need help (ok) Cause like my over the phone tutorial) yeah smile (laughter. ok) I: Describe a time when someone asked for or earnestly listened t o your thoughts ab out student success for African American students? Robbie: No. This is the first. I: Laughter. Your eyebrow went up high. Laughter. Ok. Is there anything else y ou feel is tied to uhmm African American success in high school or rel ated to dropout I guess fro African Robbie: money (uh hmm) some are encouraged to drop out and go work (hmm) y another factor (ok, uh huh). I: Ok. Anything else? Robbie: I: Well, thank you very much. Waldo I: Please share your thoughts about the connection between high school dropout and African American students.

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159 Waldo: Well, Black Black cause like I guess caught up wit drugs and school who dropout. I: So you think most kids who drop out of school who are Black are kids who get caught up in drugs? Waldo: Y eah, influenced by their friends (ok.) I: How do feel like they are influenced by their friends? Waldo: I: Do you think drugs are the only reason that kids drop out? Waldo : uhmm hm. They they can be smart and just probably bad parenting, bad parents (uh hmm) and they sta end up dropping out (ok.) I: Uuhhhmm. Pause. What factors lead to high school dropout? Like, what kinds of things do you think cause them to start dropping out of school? Waldo: Uhmm, like they s tart getting influenced by their friends, drugs, and also probably also hang out, hanging out with the wrong crowd (uh hmm). I: What kinds of people would be the right crowd to keep them in school? Waldo: mselves and (uh hmm) I: when you say that kids doubt themselves, what do you mean by that?) Waldo: They they let umm, unclear it (Ok.) I: What diffe rences do you think exist between succ essful and unsuccessful African American students? Waldo : Actually, uh well, su su successful African Americans they probably do their work, stay on task, follow directions and have a positive attitude while the unsu ccessful do anything about it (okay.)

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160 I: Are you currently failing any classes? Waldo : No. I: Have you failed any classes in the past? Waldo: No, not really. I: What do you mean by not really? Waldo I: Umm. What do you think contributed to you being a g ood student? Waldo: Following directions, doing my work, turning it in on time, not getting caught up with the wrong people and having having good study habits, I guess. (Ok.) I: What can be done to help students get back on track to help them gradua te from high school? Waldo : Uh. They can get rid of they old friends that they hang wit that got in trouble and get new friends start, start believing in their self that they can do something instead try hard (uh hmm). I: What do you believe influences student performance on exams like the tests they take in school or standardized tests like FCAT? Waldo: I: You know, like what kinds of factors? Say you have to take a test in a class or you have to take the FCAT or ACT or SAT, what kinds of things do you think lead to kids doing good versus doing not so well? Waldo: r e like, they take it real serious and not be real nervous and study, study for the and uhmm test (uh hmm. Ok.) I maybe? Waldo: They they, may study, they may study real well, but they might be too nervous (uh hmm) about it (ok) I: Uhmmm. How do teachers impact learning? Waldo: Uhm, uhm, teachers try to teach us the best way they can, like the simplest way for students to understand it and like if umm

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161 em again like ina more simpler way like t t to the student gets it to learn (ok.) I: Do you think teachers affect students in negative ways at all? Waldo: Now, it depends on the teacher. If the teacher is not really teaching at all, then I guess the s unclear I: Were you about to say something else? Waldo: No. (ok). I: Think about a period of time when you w ere successful in school. Waldo: used to hang around (hm hmm) I : So you go better grades b ecause you had a better crowd of people (yeah) and you were doing your work? Okay. Clears throat. Are those the only things that you helped, that you think helped you be successful in school? Waldo: No. I always had a positive attitude and think I c ould do it (ok) and not doubt myself. (ok). I: If there is one thing you could change about the school day or school environment, what would it be? Waldo: Y having trouble like in math, we could have like someth somebody like a tutor and get (uh hmm) and go there and do it wit t I: Umm. Describe a person in your life outside of school that motivates you to achieve in the classroom and tell me (my mom) what does she do to help you? Waldo: she always tell me to do good and say do my best and nev er doubt myself and always like do my work on time (h hmm) I: So she gives you a lot of positive encouragement (yeah) about that good attitude you were talking about earlier (yeah). Ok.

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162 I: Describe a time, I believe this is our last question, okay? (o kay). Describe a time when someone asked for/earnestly listened to your thoughts about student success for African American students. Waldo: Uhmm, well, I, mostly every, mos most of us dropout and I tell I: a bout your opinion ( They they ask me for help on stuff ) is there. Ok (like) to keep them from dropping out of school? What about any adults? When has there been a time when an adult has asked yo u about the success for African American students? Waldo: Uhm, no, not unclear has ever asked me. (ok.) I: Waldo: I: anything else that you feel contributes to the discu ssi on about African American male students and dropping out of high school that I have not asked you, but you think is important? Waldo: themselves, try hard, keep trying t he best they can (uh hmm) and try to succeed instead of dropping out and having a hard time (okay). I: Thank you. Alright. You have a good day. Waldo: You too I: Alright.

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163 APPENDIX D PERCEPTIONS HELD BY PILOT STUDY PARTICIP ANTS Renard Renard is a sophomore who has attended the same school since sixth grade. He is a student athlete who is enrolled in college preparatory courses. At the end of his first semester in tenth gr ade, Renard had an overall grade point average 3.33 and w as on track for g raduation, having earned adequate credits. Renard performed well on both sections of the FCAT last school year, but received below average scores on the reading portion this year ( Table E 3). In addition, he has had six referrals throughout high school, all resulting in detention. Renard is living in a sin gle parent home where his mom is head of household but his father was still in his life. Renard is the eldest of two chi ldren. Both parents work and have contact with the school In addition, both p arents support his athletic events. Renard believes Caucasian students may have a better advantage of succeeding in school because they tend to have parents who guide them. He thinks Black students do not receive as much guidance at home about school. In addition to not providing guidance, Renard contends that African American families may not have as much wealth as White families. He thinks they may need their children to go to work to help support their household. Overall, he does not believe African American parents push their children to attend college as much because they may not be able to afford their enrollment in post secondary institutions. He shares that the lack of guidance received from parents in relation to school success either persuades children to become further

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164 Renard perceives additional factors may lead to Black males dropping out of school, including absent parents teenage pregnancy, and drugs. Renard shared that students who do not take school seriously have more problems with academics than those who remain focused. In his opinion, becoming side tracked by factors outside of school may lead to academic failure. Parents not being around, um, the males can tend to get a female pregnant and they just want to run away and not take care of their child and drugs and abuse can have somethin to do wit it Renard does not have an incredibly wealthy family, but believes t hat the guidance his parents provide for him contribute to his academic success In addition, he thinks that he has not failed classes because he has remained focused on his studies and is not afraid of asking questions. He thinks his hard work has led t o good grades, but adult contributions should also be acknowledged Renard referred to the guidance of parents, teachers, and family members as being very impactful to his academic career. Jamal Jamal is an eleventh grade student who participates in spor ts and other community activitie s. Jamal is preparing himself for college. He is one of two students at the high sc hool who paid to take the PSAT off campus. Jamal ended the first semester of his junior year with an overall 3.67 grade point av erage and 16.5 credits (1.50 credits above the total required ). He passed the math section of the FCAT last year, in 10 th grade, meeting graduatio n requirements ( Table 4 3). However, Jamal performed below grade level on the reading portion and did not meet graduat ion requirements until he retook the exam in O ctober of this school year ( Table 4 3). Jamal

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165 lives in a single parent household, where his adopted mother cares for him. She works at the school that Jamal attends and is very visible in his life. Jamal thin ks drugs, peer pressure, and lack of desire to attend school are the primary reasons that Black males drop out of school. He thinks that students feel school does not bring forth the financial profits that they want. Ultimately, according to Jamal, their lessened interest in school leads to worse grades and after time the students begin to give up. He feels the more successful students are those who possess more confidence in the ability to succeed. Jamal thinks that students who get low grades and drop out school probably care about succeeding, but have no confidence. Jamal believes a great contributor to his academic success has been his mother. He says that because she has been strict, he has stayed off the streets and always done well in school. Sh e has kept him focused, on track, and confident about his ability to succeed. Jamal thinks teachers also impact success for African American male students. He thinks they should teach on a level that helps students understand the material and become bes t prepared for exams. Furthermore, Jamal emphasized the importance of good communication with students and not overusing authority as adult because it diminishes the learning environment ( but some teachers, they, they just think they have the authority, be successful than tryin to like (pause) overuse your authority (uh hmm )

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166 Jamal has continued to work well in school because of his competitive nature. He desires to get better grades than some of his peers. In the same vein, he wants to keep his compe titive edge in sports and knows that can only happen if he keeps his grades the primary role in motivating him to achieve. She has shared multiple stories and scenarios about others who were able to make it and motivates him through encouraging stories. Whitton Whitton is a senior who is mature and very well respected by peers and faculty members. He is a member of the basketball team. Although both parents attended sc hool functions where he is recognized, Whitton lives with his older brother and sister in law. He began attending this high school at the start of his ninth grade year and has been successful, having appropriately earned 21.0 credits and mainta ining an ov erall cumulative grad e point average of 3.43. During his 10 th grade year, Whitton passed the math portion of the FCAT, but he had to retake the reading portion both last year and again in October of this school year (Table E 3). He failed to meet require ments at any time and utilized concordant scores on the ACT to satisfy the graduation requirements. Throughout high school Whitton has only received three referrals, all for tardies to school, all resulting in detention. Whitton thinks Black males are ov erly focused on sex and sports. He believes both are large distractions to school. He thinks kids become so consumed with things outside of the curricular day that they do not regain focus until their senior year when they recognize how far they are from truly graduating. Until that point, it appears

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167 Whitton does not feel Black males pay much attention to their overall grades and credits needed to finish school and lack the motivating force to complete school. However, Whitton notices that some students may give up prior to their senior year, but for the same reason; lack of motivation to finish. Whitton agrees with Renard that teenage pregnancy impacts Black male fac tor contributing to dropout. As mentioned by Jamal in his interview, the males may not know what to do so they run away. Whitton thinks a couple of other factors are related to the dropout phenomenon, kids not earning credits and their family background. He says many Black no true feeling of purpose in finishing school when parents have not presented graduation as a mod el, according to Whitton. Whitton says that successful students focus on school and make good selections about the peers they hang around with at school. He thinks unsuccessful students are those who act like class clowns and make fun of others. Whitton implies that such behavior is merely a faade that unsuccessful students present to distract others from a strong motivation in high school student behavior. Well, you could be around, like I said earlier with the click who loves to joke around and pick at other people, which most of the time those be the type of kids who something they could d have the brains (uh hmm. Okay).

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168 Whitton accurately identifies several methods for making up credits. His responses make it clear that Whitton has been attentive to guidance provided by school. It is very likely that the information was reiterated by his mother whom he said is very involved and constantly encourages him to do well in school. More than anything, Whitton thinks students must be willing to do better in school. Otherwise, he presu mes preventing kids from focusing on futuristic goals. Besides that, Whitten says kids m ight Robbie Robbie is a twelfth grade student who moved to this area from North Carolina. He has had to acclimate to the differences in this area. Robbie lives with his grandmother. However, he keeps in close contact with his father, speaking to him on the phone on a regular basis. Robbie has 3 disciplinary referrals this year and had 2 last year, in which one res ulted in a five day suspens ion for fighting in school (Table E 2). Other than those five events, Robbie has no other disciplinary actions chronicled in his school records. Robbie has earned the necessary 21.0 credits by the end of the first semester of h is senior year. Also, he has barely met the minimum GPA requirement with an overall 2.07 cum grade point average. Robbie has failed to meet the minimum required score of 300 on both the math and re ading sections of the FCAT (Tables E 3). Moreover, Robbi e is not involved in extracurricular activities.

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169 Robbie believes money is the primary reason students drop out of school. He think hustling gonna get them the money faster Moreover, he believes students who drop out of school do not deem school as progressive, but rather an inhibitor to other goals. Robbie continues by explaining that the preoccupation with money may come from students seeing drug dealers with expensive possessions such as cars and jewelry. the differences between successful and unsuccessful students. He thinks that the work ethic the student exerts exemplifies their level of success. He shared his own lack of hard work (not doing homework) and laziness led to him not doing well. He spent too much time go ing home and focusing on video games instead. Distractions of various kinds continue to stand out as problematic variables associated with academic achievement. Robbie thinks students need to refocus themselves on school work and build better relationshi ps with teachers by showing them respect. Like, like nowadays like teachers, talk to teachers like all types of ways like cursin Robbi in values being taught at home. Robbie presumes that mothers especially, teach kids appropriate manners. In addition, his response indicates his value orientation toward respect ing adults. Further conversation with Robbie provides his ideas for students getting help to perform well in school. He appreciates teachers who take time to teach

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170 specific things and review until students understand the material. Again, teacher student relationships are significant. Because motivating African American male students is revealed as a necessary component in enhancing academic achievement, responses related to student motivation are significant. In addition to family support, Robbie indica tes he is self motivated, as well as motivated by church. motivation I need. not have successful his experience as a dropout as a non example for his son. Similar to other interviews, Robbie discussed how his parent encouraged him to succeed by s haring stories. He has helped with essays and scholarship applications, remaining very involved with motivated him to succeed in school. Waldo Waldo is a freshman. He lives i n a two parent household with his mother and father. Waldo has great success academically. In fact, his peers sometimes ask him for assistance/tutorial with school work. After one semester in high school, Waldo has earned a 3.83 GPA and 3.0 credits. Bo th last year and in this current year, Waldo made above average scores on th e math section of the FCAT ( Table E 3). Conversely, he

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171 failed to meet minimum achievement level scores in reading and was enrolled in an intensive reading class as a result ( Table E 3). Waldo has not yet become involved in extracurricular activities, but loves to draw as a pastime. Waldo concludes that African American male students who drop out of high school are most affected by drugs. Furthermore, he believes that those who ar e involved with That, like their friends try en they start doin the impression that peer pressure is an incredibly strong force in high school and very difficult thing for students to overcome. It has the potential to cause students to walk away from values they hold, even if they are smart kids. out of school along with choosing the wrong crowd to hang out with at school. He said the best crowd to be with if you want to finish school are those kids who finish complete school work are deemed unsuccessful Waldo clearly stated his ideas about the differences between successful and unsuccessful students: Actually, uh well, su su successful African Americans they probably do their work, stay on task, follow directions and have a positive a ttitude while the unsuccessful do it (uh hmm) because they thought it was too hard and they they said what Waldo has not been unsuccessful in scho ol. He admits he has made a below average

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172 my work, turning it in on time, not gettin g caught up with the wrong people and having student success for all kids. He argues that if students want to graduate from school they must learn how to develop relation ships with good students, believe they can accomplish things in school, and work hard to achieve academic success. Waldo discusses the need for a positive attitude throughout school. He thinks kids will do better on tests when they walk into the testing environment with confidence and have been prepared by teachers. He believes teachers impact learning by reviewing materials so students can understand it. Waldo said teachers do the following to impact learning: the simplest way for students to understa nd it and like if it like they umm t to the student gets it to learn probably add like study groups and like if people, students were having trouble like in help, like a they come back e to help one and receive help would help lead to overall academic success Again, hanging out with crowd s that acknowledge the importance of academics is a key factor for Waldo. He emphasizes the need to boost positive attitudes for African American male students as it relates to their academic achievement. He concludes his interview by sharing that Black male students should not give up when things get hard. He says

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173 they should not drop out of school. Instead, Waldo thinks they must believe in themselves, try hard, keep trying the best they can (uh hmm) and try to succeed instead Five of the eight students participated in the study. Those who participated ranged in grades 9 12. Two students were seniors. The lowest grade point average of a participant was 2.07 and the highest GPA was 3.83 on an unweighted scale. Some students were enrolled in intensive reading classes due to poor performance on the FCAT while others were enrolled in honors courses and participated in other coll ege as an Achievement Level 1 or 2, even when they passed the test. None of the participants had above average achievement in the reading section of the state standardized test. Conversely, three of the participants scored above average on the math sections of the FCAT without having to retake the test to meet graduation requirements. Although some students faced some difficulties on the standardized test, each of those i nterviewed met minimum GPA requirements and were on track with credits for their corresponding grade level. All of the students attended the same school throughout their high school years. Some even attended the 6 12 school during middle school. Three of the five participants lived in single parent homes. Two were reared by single mothers while others lived in a household with another family member. One student lived in a household with his brother and sister in law and the other with both mother and father. One student lived outside the zone and was transported to school

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174 from a much further distance each day. For the most part, all participants lived relatively close to the school and were very familiar with the small community. They each reported their families had great impact on their academic achievement. However, the kids who represented the greatest performance were involved in extracurricular activities. Those who participated in the study attended school on a regular basis. Each of the p articipants had six referrals or less throughout their high school career. Disciplinary refe rrals were classified as tardy, classroom disruptions, minor violations, defiance, and one was logged as fighting (serious mutual altercation). The one referral f or fighting resulted in a five day suspension from school. One of the referrals for defiance resulted in a 2 day suspension from school. There were no other suspensions for students who participated in the study. When students received other referrals th ey either were reprimanded, participated in a conference or were assigned In School Detention (ISD).

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175 APPENDIX E DESCRIPTIVE DATA REG ARDING PILOT STUDY P ARTICIPANTS Discipline and Academic Achievement Levels Table E 1 Number of disciplinary referrals received by pilot study participants (2004 2008) Type of referral Number of incidents Classroom Disruption 8 Defiance 5 Fighting 1 Other Violations Minor 1 Tardy 4 Table E 2 4 2008) Participant name (pseudonym) and grade level classification Number of referrals received *Number of in school disciplinary actions taken Number of out of school suspensions (# of days) Total number of days student was out of class due to referral Waldo (freshman) 0 0 0 0 Renard (sophmore) 6 6 0 6 Jamal (junior) 5 4 1 (2days) 6 Robbie (senior) 5 4 1 (5 days) 9 Whitton (senior) 3 3 0 3 Total 19 17 2 (7days) 24 *In school disciplinary actions include student conferences (1), reprimands (1) and in school detention (15) Table E 3 FCAT scores & achievement levels for pilot study participants: (06 07 vs. 07 08) Participant name (pseudonym) and grade level classification Reading score (2006 2007) achievement level Reading score (2007 2008) achievement level Math score (2006 2007) achievement level Math score (2007 2008) achievement level Waldo (freshman) 271 2 298 2 346 3 312 3 Renard (sophmore) 301 2 284 1 326 3 321 3 Jamal (junior) 266 1 318 2 333 3 Robbie (senior) 267 1 268 1 278 1 278 1 Whitton (senior) 234 1 242 1 312 2 *already passed math section of FCAT, meeting graduation requirement and exempting from test

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176 APPENDIX F SUMMARY OF RESULTS F ROM PILOT STUDY INTE RVIEWS Results Implicat ing Need for Further Research : Connections Between High School Dropout and African American Males Participants in the pilot study shared similar concerns about connections African American male students have with the phenomenon of dropping out of high sc hool. Three participants, named by the researcher as Renard, Jamal and Robbie, believe many students are overly concerned with making money. Renard said poor families may actually encourage their children to work to help support the family while Jamal and Robbie think the influence comes from greed. In fact, Robbie remarked that hustling to make money may help kids portray a better image. Participants agreed that some kids cannot wait to legitimately make money, but may be enticed by the drug culture to earn money early. Poor students may be more heavily influenced by desires to earn money, help families, or connect to others in their neighborhood even if connected by illegal means. Waldo concurs with Jamal and Robbie. He feels the drug culture has stim ulated poor decision making by peers. He thinks peer influence causes kids to get involved with drugs, often by selling them. Jamal makes mention of peer pressure influencing mily guidance and modeling lead to lack of encouragement for African American male students. The lack of encouragement may be correlated with similar concerns many drop outs doubt themselves, while Jamal insists they may not envision themselves in college prompting them to work less diligently in secondary courses. African

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177 American males may be connected to dropout as a result of falling too far behind in school, not bei ng encouraged, or being preoccupied with extraneous variables, according to participant responses. Factors Leading to High School Dropout Participants in the pilot study reported drugs, teenage pregnancy, low self confidence, and poor school performance l ead to higher rates of dropout among African American male students. Renard and Whitton think guys may get someone pregnant and leave school because of uncertainties tied to the pregnancy. Two of the five participants discussed low grades and failing cla sses as reasons to leave school. As previously mentioned, participants share beliefs about drugs, perceiving it as one of the leading factors in high school dropout among African American males. Again, peer influence and low self confidence were acknowle dged as primary factors contributing to students leaving school. Differences Between Successful and Unsuccessful Students Overwhelmingly, the participants agreed that successful students are those who are dedicated to working hard. They agreed that those who possess self confidence and present a good work ethic are most likely to do well in scho o l. Responses indicated the need to complete homework, prepare for tests, stay on task, create good study habits and follow directions. It was stated that lazine ss, lack of attention, poor attitude, and constant joking inhibit students from finding success in the classroom. Participants discussed the need for students to find peers that have similar interests in succeeding if they want to graduate. Poor choice i n peer groups could cause students to lose focus and become disinterested in meeting the requirements for graduation.

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178 Four of five participants made mention of hard work being a major contributor to their personal success in school. Some talked about thei r ability to stay away from the wrong crowd, those not interested in performing well in school. However, more participants agreed that family greatly impacted their personal performance. Some were influenced by stories of success or seeing their family m embers do well in college. Others feel they were motivated by strict rules and encouraging words. One student example trive for more helped him to remain focused on graduating. Student participants reflected strong belief in family support and encouragement being a foundation for setting academic goals and remaining focused until they are achieved. The participants in t he study did not experience extended periods of academic failure. They attribute their constant academic success to exhibiting the characteristics of a successful student. Getting Black Male Students Back On Track for Graduation The most discussed option for helping students get on track is to help them get focused. Participants seem to attribute good grades in school as confidence boosters, thereby indicating the need for teachers to help kids understand the information being taught. Some responses all ude to the idea that some curricular ideas are challenging and academic support is not offered, but such conclusions are merely an observation on the part of the observer. Participants place much of the burden of getting on track on the students themselv es. One report includes the need for kids to start working harder and stop being so fascinated with their peer group and other outside distractions. Suggestions

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179 by one participant indicated that students need to pay attention in class and take time to ch eck their grades and ask for tutoring if needed. Although personal problems are indicated as distractions from academics, one participant says other options are available to students to make up missing credits and get help outside of class (i.e. college p rogram and district credit retrieval program). However, the participant says the student must be willing to get help. Student Performance on Exams/Standardized Tests Most participants made strong statements about coming in mentally prepared to take the t est by believing that they could pass it. They talked about how nervousness and feelings of being inept will cause students to not do well. Responses suggest the need for students taking exams seriously and advocate for studying beforehand, getting plent y of rest and eating a good breakfast on the day of the test. Most of all, it becomes evident when reviewing the data that students feel that Black males should not put too much pressure on themselves. Instead, they should enter exams academically prepar ed and mentally fit. Possessing a good attitude seems to be their number one suggestions for good student performance. Two primary concerns were raised by participants concerning the impact that teachers have on learning, re lationships with students and providing information in a manner that students can understand it. A couple of participants talked about student teacher relationships. At least one participant conveyed that the overuse of authority by teachers minimizes th e relationships with students. Similarly, participant interviews revealed that students must also give teachers well deserved respect. Communication

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180 between teachers and students is highlighted as an impactful factor in student learning. Additionally, t he manner in which the instruction is given has great implications for learning according to this study. Participants shared that many of the students need information broken down into pieces and often repeated until concepts are understood. Participants shared that teachers who take time to make information clear are appreciated by students in their classes. One participant explains that merely standing at the board or sitting behind the desk does not help students understand curriculum. Participants wa nt teachers to provide exemplary instruction that helps them attain knowledge. Otherwise, participants seem to be satisfied with their school. Changes Needed in School When asked what they would change about their school day, one participant indicated he would improve relationships with teachers so students would not be afraid of asking questions and another participant talked about creating study groups to improve academic achievement. The only other factors mentioned were lighthearted statements abou t a cleaner school and better lunches. Relationships supporting curricular advancements were discussed in greater detail.

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181 APPENDIX G OPT OUT FORM FOR SURVEY PARTICIPANTS Student Assent and Parental information Opt out form Protocol Title: African Ame rican Student Voices About Why Black Boys D rop Out of Secondary Schools Date of Proposed Research: *T here will be at least a week between the time the assent/information forms goes out to parents, and the time the surveys first start being implemented Please read this document carefully before you decide to participate in the study. Purpose of the research study: To understand African American male the dr opout phenomena and their beliefs about experiences t hat may limit motivation toward academic success. The results w ill provide information for fut ure curri culum design and educational practices for at risk Black males. What will you be asked to do in this study: You will be a sked to answer approximately forty questions about why Black males drop out of school. The questions relate to demographics, teachers, school curriculum, family and personal experience. Time Required: 20 30 minutes Risks and benefits: The benefit of this research is to describe a nd understand the perspectives of various key factors in the dropout phenomena of Black male students and to predict possible outcomes for fu ture students enrolling in secondary school. Results will direct implementation of strategies for academic success No more than minimal risk anticipated. There are no direct benefits to you as a participant. Compensation: There is no compensation for participating in this research. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by the law. Your intervi ews will be names, e mails, and/or other identifiers anonymous) After the study is complete and the data has been analyz ed i t is possible that the final results of this study will be presented in educational conferences and may even be published. Voluntary Participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: Agre ement: No signatures are necessary for participation due to the lack risk to students already enrolled in SBAC schools. However, if you do not want your child to participate, please sign below agreeing to the following statement: I have read the procedu re described abo ve and have received a copy of this description but do not agree to participate in the procedure Students 18 or older may refuse consent independently. P articipant: ________________________________________ Date: ____________

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182 Parent/Gu ardian: ___________________________________ Date: ____________ Principal Investigator:_______________________________ Date: __________ ___

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184 Question 2 What is your grade level? 6th grade 7th grade 8th grade 9th grade 10th grade 11th grade 12th grade Question 3 What is your unweighted Grade Point Average (GPA)? 4.0 and above (A) 3.50 3.99 (B+) 3.00 3.49 (B) 2.50 2.99 (C+) 2.00 2.49 (C) 1.50 1.99 (D+) 1.00 1.49 (D) Below 1.00 (F) I don't know. Question 4 I l ive with... Mother and Father Mother and her significant other (boyfriend or girlfriend) Single Mom Single Dad Father and his significant other Grandparent(s) Other relative (i.e., aunt, uncle, sister, brother, etc.) Foster parent(s) Other Question 5 Wh at is the highest level of education your mother completed? Graduated from university (BA or higher) Graduated from community college (AA) Completed some college, but did not finish Graduated high school Dropped out of high school I don't know.

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185 Question 6 What is the highest level of education your father completed? Graduated from university (BA or higher) Graduated from community college (AA) Completed some college, but did not finish Graduated high school Dropped out of high school I don't know. Quest ion 7 Extracurricular...I participate in the following activities... Please click each activity you participate in (check all that apply). I do not participate in extracurricular activities. Band Baseball Basketball Football Golf School Club Soccer Servi ce Learning/Volunteer Student Government Swimming Tennis Track and Field Volleyball Wrestling Weightlifting Other, please specify TEACHERS Question 8 Black males drop out of school because teachers do NOT encourage them to work hard. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 9 Black males drop out of school because teachers do NOT care about them. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5

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186 Question 10 Black males drop out of school because they do NOT feel comfortable talking to teachers about problems related to school. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 11 Black males drop out of school because they are uncomfortable t alking to teachers about their personal problems. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 12 Black males drop out of school because teachers are unfair. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree n or Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 SCHOOL/CURRICULUM Question 13 Black males drop out of school because classes are NOT interesting. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 14 Black males drop out of school because classes are too large (too many students) to learn. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 15 Black males drop out of school because they are failing classes. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 16 Black males drop out of school because classes are too hard. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e S trongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 17 Black males drop out of school because they do not get tutoring assistance (extra help) with school work. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5

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187 Q uestion 18 Black males drop out of school because of too many behavioral disruptions during class/not enough classroom discipline. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 19 Black males dr op out of school because they miss too many days from school. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 20 Black males drop out of school because their friends are not interested in school. S trongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 21 Black males drop out of school because their classes are NOT relevant to their culture (classes do not relate to African American history, lifestyl e, or current experiences). Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 22 Black males drop out of school because they do NOT feel safe at school. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 FAMILY Question 23 Black males drop out of school because they would rather work to earn money than go to school. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 24 Black males drop out of school because their parents/guardians do NOT contact the school. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 25 Black males drop out of school b ecause their parents/guardians need them to work to help support the family. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5

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188 Question 26 Black males drop out of school because education is NOT important to their family. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 27 Black males drop out of school because their family does NOT talk about the importance of finishing school. Strongly Agre e Agre e N either Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 PERSONAL EXPERIENCE Question 28 Black m ales drop out of school beca u se they do NOT believe school will help them get a good job. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e D isagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 29 Black males drop out of school because they are NOT motivated to finish school. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 30 Bla ck males drop out of school because they are culturally different (they are a minority). Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 31 Black males drop out of school because of drugs. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 32 Black males drop out of school because they are being bullied. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 33 Black males drop out of school because they got a young lady pregnant/will be a father. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 34 Black males drop out of school becau se of a family tragedy. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5

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189 Question 35 Black males drop out of school because they are part of a gang. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e S trongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 36 Black males drop out of school because they do NOT put forth their best effort in school. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 37 Bla ck males drop out of school because they are lazy. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 38 Black males drop out of school because they are NOT involved in extracurricular activities. Str ongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly Disagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 39 Black males drop out of school because they do not know why school is important. Strongly Agre e Agre e Neither Agree nor Disagre e Disagre e Strongly D isagre e 1 2 3 4 5 Question 40 Please rank how important you think school is for Black male students that decide to drop out. Extremely Importan t 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Does not matter at al l 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 Question 41 W hat makes Black male students want to stay in school? Question 42 Why do YOU think Black male students drop out of school?

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190 LIST OF REFE RENCES Allen, W. R. (1995). African American family life in soc ietal context: Crisis and hope. Sociological F orum, 10 (4), 569 592. Alliance f or Excellent Education (2010). High School Dropouts in America: Fact Sheet. Washington, DC: The Alliance of Excellent Education. Retrieved fro m Ampim, M. (1993). Towards an understanding of Black community development Oakland, CA: Advancing the Research. Auerbach, S. (2007). From moral supporters to struggling advocates: Reconceptualizing parent roles in edu cation through the experience of working class families of color. Urban Education, 42 (3), 250 283. Balfanz, R., Almeida, C., Steinberg, A., Santos, J., & Fox, J. H. (2009). Graduating America: Meeting the challenge of low graduation rate high schools. Was hington, DC: Jobs for the Future. Retrieved from Balfanz, R., Herzog, L. & MacIver, D. (2007). Pre ve nting student disengagement and keeping students on the graduation path in urban middle grades schools: E arly identification and effective interventions. Education Psychologist, 42 (4), 223 235. Bandura A. (1986). Social foundation of thought and act ion: A socia l cognitive theory Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Bankston C. L. & Caldas S. J. (1998) Family str ucture, schoolmates, and racial inequalities in school achievement. Journal of Marriage and Family, 60 (3), 715 723. Bennett, Jr., M. D. (20 06). Cultural resources and school engagement among African American youths: The role of racial socialization and ethnic identity. Childr en and Schools, 28 (4), 1 97 206. Billingsley, A. (1992). America n families New York: Simon & Schuster. Bogenschneider, K. (1996). An ecological risk/protective theory for building prevention programs, policies, and community capacity to su pport youth. Family Relations, 45 (2), 127 138. Boykin A. W., & Bailey, C. T. (2 000). The role of cult ural factors in school relevant cognitive functioning; Description of home environmental factors, cultural orientati ons, and learning preferences. ( R eport # 43 ). Washington, DC: Howard University.

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191 Boykin, A. W. (1986). The triple quan dary of schooling Afro American children. In U. Neisser (Ed.), The school achievement of minority children (pp. 57 92). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Boykin, W. (1983). On the academic task performance and African American children. In J. Spencer (Ed.) Achievement and achievement motives (pp.16 36). Boston: Freeman. Bradley, D. F. (2007 ). A un ique tool for closing the gap. Journal of the Alliance of Black School Educators, 6 (2), 20 31. Bridgeland, J., DiIulio, J., & Morison, K. (2006). The s ilent epid emic: P erspectives of high school dropouts. Wash ington, DC: Civic Enterprises in association with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the B ill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved fr om 06.pdf Bronfenbrenner, U. (1976). The experimental ecology of education The Educational Researcher, 5 (9), 5 15. Brown Foundation for Education al Equity, Excellence, and Research (2009). Backgrou nd, Overview and Summary. Mission, KS: The Brown Foundation. Retrieved from http://brown v Brown W. T. & Jones, J. M. (2004). The substance of th ings hoped for: A study of the future orientat ion, minority status perceptions, academic engage ment, and academic performance of Black high school students. Journal of Black Psychology, 30 (2), 248 273 Casteel, C. (2000). African Caucasian teacher s. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 29 (3), 143 148. Certo, J. L., Cauley, K. M., & Chafin, C. (2003). Stu dent perspectives on their high school experience. Adolescence 38 (152), 705 724. Chavous, T. M., et al. (2003). Racial identity and academic attai nment among Afric an A merican adolescents. Child Development, 74 (4) 1076 1090 Cokley, K. (2002). Ethnicity, gender, and acade mic self concept: a preliminary examination of academic disidentification and implications for psychologists. Cultural Diversity a nd Ethnic Minority Psychology, 8 (4), 378 388. Coleman, J S. ( 1988 ) Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital. American Journal of Sociology 94 S94 S120. Comer, J. P (1988). Educating poor minority children. Scientific American, 259 (5), 24 30.

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202 B I OGRAPHICAL SKETCH Anntwanique DeV on ne Edwards was born in New Haven, Conn ecticut. She is the daughter of Beverly and Jeffrey Edwards and the eldest of three children. She moved to Florida after graduating from W est Haven High School in 1990. In the fall of that same year she began studies at the University of Florida where she has attained several degrees, including an Associates of Arts (A.A .), Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in s ociology, Maste r of Education (M.Ed.) and Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in counselor e duc ation with a specialization in mental h ealth c ounseling, and a sec ond M.Ed. in educational l eadership. professional work with the School B oard of Alachua County have been the foundation for her continued education at the University of Florida in the Department of Educational Administration and Policy An opportunity to earn a Ph.D. in educational l eadership, specializing in ele mentary and s econdary educatio n, has been her much desired goal. Anntwanique Edwards has worked in the field of counseling and e ducation for approximately twenty years combined. Her career has been characterized by positions in mental health, drug counseling, school a nd guidance counseling, juven ile justice program coordinator and school administrator. She is currently the assistant principal of Mebane Middle School. Her resume indicates strong service in ministry while balancing work and school It further acknow ledges that she became a licensed missionary/evangelist for the Church of God in Chri st (COGIC). In addition, she founded Generation, COGIC, where she served as the pastor from August 20 03 through May 2008. Furthermore, s he self published her first book entitled, Daddy, Where Are You? and founded a non profit organization named Divine Ministry, Inc in

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203 2005. Anntwanique has the spirit of an entrepreneur and envisions creating business plans that will positively impact youth in multiple communities. Di vine Ministry is recognized as a charitable organization that grants scholarships, promotes education, and facilitates various services for spiritual growth. Additionally, her book has afforded her the opportunity to do mission work internationally and pr each in other nations. Her international travel in cludes Botswana, Africa (April May 2007) and Montego Bay/Kingston, Jamaica (July 2007). Anntwanique has consistently ministered in numerous cities in her home state (Florida), as well as in North Carolina and Maryland She also served as a writer for MannaScript, a new Christian magazine (, as well as Sister Space (, and she continues to invest in a wealth of other projects and organizations. Anntwanique Edwards h as devoted immeasurable time to her community and serves as a wonderful role model for young people. As you c an tell her life of "school, work and church" have kept her very busy. Upon completion of her Ph.D. Program, Anntwanique will be continuing in h er administrative role at a public s chool, devoting time to her charitable organization and writing her second book.