Term of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Lorraine Gilpin

Committee Member 1

Yasar Bodur

Committee Member 2

Delores Liston

Committee Member 3

Nandi Crosby

Committee Member 3 Email



For African American students, academic achievement is often discussed in terms of student deficits and cultural deficiencies. Citing high dropout rates and the achievement gap, focus is often centered on understanding African American achievement in terms of school failures. As such, African American students are, at times, recognized negatively in terms of their academic abilities. Moving away from this deficit perspective of understanding African American students and their school achievement, this study examines the standpoint of six African American students who, despite possessing characteristics that complicated their school experiences, achieved success. Interrupting common discourse and recognizing these students as holders of knowledge, this study engages African American students in sharing their perspectives on how their understanding of their racial identity, and the perception others hold regarding their identity affect their achievement in school. Through critical race theory and narrative inquiry, this study attends to the students' perspectives on their struggles, their determination, and their successes as they journeyed through high school. The stories told interject fresh perspectives into the discourse and suggest an avenue for further investigations of African American student achievement.

Research Data and Supplementary Material