The Voices of African American Adolescent Males: Schooling Experience in Urban Schools

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Burns, Angela Yvette
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Middle Tennessee State University
ABSTRACT The ongoing phenomenon of African American males' poor academic performance has been evidenced in research data, indicating this subgroup of students tends to have one of the largest academic deficits, behavioral issues, and high school dropout rates which often leads to the school-to-prison pipeline process (Craven et al., 2020). The researcher set forth to better understand why African American male students remain academically at-risk students and if there are confounding reasons when students feel connected or marginalized from school and learning environments. Therefore, the purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological qualitative study aimed to engage fourth-grade African American adolescents to share personal experiences and stories about learning in public school. This study was guided by Critical Race Theory, which supports the power of "voice" for minority students to share their perspectives of teachers and peers (Delgado, 1989). CRT believes that educational policies are not equitable and can often hinder African American students from receiving optimal educational opportunities and leverage in attaining academic success. Therefore, CRT scholars analyze educational reform, policies, and practices and support gaps in the literature to better understand why this embodiment of students is adversely challenged in academics and future success. In this study, African American adolescent males were recruited from one elementary school located in a southern, mid-sized urban setting in the Middle Tennessee area. After conducting a seven-week qualitative analysis of transcripts from participants' focus group interviews and classroom observations, the researcher utilized a constant comparative method to force-align themes of poverty, trauma, self-efficacy, and school belonging. Findings in this study provide insight into how African American male adolescents perceive school, their learning experiences, and how external factors can impede academic achievement.
Educational leadership