Term of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Brenda Marina

Committee Member 1

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 2

Fayth Parks

Abstract

Presently, numerous research studies, articles and reports have shown troubling outcomes regarding the education of Black male students in the United States (Darensbourg, Perez, & Blake, 2010; Lewis, Simon, Uzzell, Horwitz, & Casserly, 2010; Prager, 2011). The performance of Black males on national achievement assessments is lower in comparison to the performance of most other subgroups. The high school graduation rate for Black males in the United States is below most other ethnic subgroups (Schotts Foundation, 2015). Although various strategies are often implemented at the national, state, and local level in attempts to address achievement disparities, these efforts have not been fully successful in eliminating the achievement gaps nor improving educational outcomes for Black male students. While dominant explanations for negative educational outcomes seem to blame the Black male students, their motivation, their family and culture (Emdin, 2012; Gira, 2007; Kim & Hargrove, 2013), Critical Race Theory scholars attempt to challenge these deficit explanations and explore alternative perspectives regarding the conditions that may contribute to educational achievement disparities (Jay, 2003; Ladson-Billings &Tate, 1995; Milner, 2008). Critical Race Theory insists upon exploring the experiences of people of color who have been historically marginalized and silenced. Some scholars have noted that black educators often feel left out of discussions and silenced in regards to the teaching and learning of Black students (Delpit, 1995; Foster, 1991; White, 2012). Because Black teachers and Black males may share possible cultural connections as well as experiences with marginalization, it is possible that some Black teachers may be able to provide valuable information and counter stories regarding black male achievement (Foster, 1991; Milner, 2006). The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of Black teachers regarding the academic achievement of Black male students in elementary schools in rural Georgia. Through the use of focus group interviews, the researcher examined the voices of Black teachers to identify significant factors impacting the educational success of Black males. Findings of this study had implications for the education of Black males in rural elementary schools. Findings were: 1) Black male students in rural elementary schools may lack exposure to critical resources needed for their success; 2) Policies and practices may limit Black male access to rigorous and advanced curriculum; 3) Deficit thinking and stereotypes may confine academic achievement and aspirations for Black male elementary students; and 4) Positive and supportive teacher-student relationships may have an important role in improving the educational outcomes for Black males in rural schools.

INDEX WORDS: Black males, Achievement Gap, Teacher perceptions, Student Achievement, Elementary schools, Rural Education, Deficit Perspective, Critical Race Theory, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

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