Term of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Dr. Hsiu-Lien Lu

Committee Member 1

Dr. Eric Landers

Committee Member 2

Dr. Russell Mays



School districts across the nation are struggling to educate all of America’s children. The graduation numbers for African American males, however, are dismal. Approximately 47% of African American males who enter the ninth grade graduate from high school (Bridgeland, Dilulio & Morison, 2006). Yet this alarming statistic has failed to garner the attention, effort, or energy that it deserves. The purpose of this study is to identify and analyze the critical factors that cause Black males to drop out of high school, and to recommend interventions that may reduce the drop-out rate. This research also compares dropouts’ reasons for leaving school with the perceptions of principals and other school officials as to why these students drop out.

Participants in the study included 15 recent dropouts, five principals, and five graduation coaches from a school district in the Southeastern United States. Participants were identified through snowball sampling, and each participant took part in semi-structured interviews. Forty percent of the recent dropouts reported leaving school because it was boring. In contrast, 80% of the principals indicated that students dropped out because they lacked the academic skills needed to successfully complete high school. The study concluded that designing a relevant curriculum and building strong social ties to urban African American male students may provide key elements of the multifaceted approach necessary to solve the dropout problem.