Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Closing the achievement gap: What can school leaders learn from successful African-Americans?
by Neu, Cynthia M.||||||Stewart, Andrew M., Ed.D., Saint Louis University, 2009, 111; 3383303
Abstract (Summary)

This document reports the findings of a doctoral project that attempted to learn the factors contributing to the academic success of African Americans who persevered through an educational system historically riddled with obstacles for minority students. The project team attempted to apply the factors of success in an attempt to help school leaders close the academic achievement gap between white and black students. The team of two educators gleaned their inspiration for this project from the words of Viktor Frankl, the psychologist and concentration camp survivor. In 1946, he wrote that when a person is faced with hopelessness, the goal is to transform despair into success. While the academic achievement gap is disturbingly large, many African Americans are successfully completing their educational pursuits despite current statistics.

From a review of the literature, the project team was guided by the following questions: (1) Why do some African Americans make it successfully through high school and college while so many do not?; (2) What are the factors that assist African Americans to succeed academically?; (3) What can educational leaders learn from those who have successfully completed high school and college?; and, (4) Can school leaders apply these lessons to educational programs designed to increase African American academic achievement in their schools?

Utilizing a 15-item Likert scale survey, the team distributed an online survey link via a third party facilitator to members of a regional African American lawyer association and alumni members of a black college fraternity. The team conducted three follow-up personal interviews of people who had completed the online survey. Emerging from the data analysis, the team found that while all ten factors of success were at least "somewhat important" to the respondents, the factors of self-discipline, intelligence, competitive nature, coping/resiliency skills, and family support were "extremely important" to survey respondents and the interviewees, as the literature predicted. Included in this project report are recommendations for school leaders on how to utilize the ten factors of success when considering programs intended to close the academic achievement gap between black students and their white peers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wright, Gary
School: Saint Louis University
School Location: United States -- Missouri
Source: DAI-A 70/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Black studies, School administration, Curriculum development
Keywords: Achievement gap, African-American, Education, Leaders, Self-discipline, Successful
Publication Number: 3383303
ISBN: 978-1-109-45483-3
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