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A case study of school based leaders' perspectives of high school dropouts

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Title:
A case study of school based leaders' perspectives of high school dropouts
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Brown_Jr, John
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American male students of African descent
High school dropouts
Dissertations, Academic -- Educational Leadership & Policy Studies -- Masters -- USF   ( lcsh )
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non-fiction   ( marcgt )

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Abstract:
ABSTRACT: School districts are failing to educate all of America's children. Dropout statistics reveal that almost 7,000 students leave our nation's schools everyday. At this rate 1.2 million students will not graduate on time with their prospective classes. The majority of American male students of African descent are dropping out instead of completing high school. When compared to that of their white peers, the dropout rate of American male students of African descent is significantly higher and the graduation rate much lower. This research examines high school dropouts from the perspectives of school-based leaders in a high school located in a city in a large southern school district. Structured interviews, transcribed with member-checks, were conducted with eight school-based leaders. The data in this qualitative study were used to examine their perspectives of American male students of African descent dropping out of their high school. The researcher maintained a reflective research journal to enhance the data analysis. The study found that the perspectives of the eight school-based leaders were influenced by their past histories with these students; their personal and acquired knowledge of these students, their families, and their communities. They were largely uniformed of the dropout rate and their previous history with these students had an impact on their present level of support to these students.
Thesis:
Dissertation (Ed.D.)--University of South Florida, 2010.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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by John Brown_Jr.
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A Case Study of School-Based Leaders Perspectives of High School Dropouts by John J. Brown, Jr. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Leonard C. Burrello, Ed.D. Valerie J. Janesick, Ph.D. James L. Paul, Ed.D. Rosemary B. Closson, Ph.D. Date of Approval: April 2, 2010 Keywords: American male students of African descent, High school dropouts African-American males, Black males, Copyright 2010, John J.Brown, Jr.

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Dedication I dedicate this volume to my family. Mrs. Anna Bell Allen Brown, a beautiful, kind, loving, determined woman who instilled within me the notion that I could achieve any goal that I was willing to work for. If she were alive today nothing would have touched her soul more than my reaching th is milestone. Her constant encouragement ignited a restlessness within me that did not a llow me to rest at a ny previous station in life. Providing me with lifes basic less ons, she insisted I go to Sunday school and church. She was a perfect example of a God fearing, praying wo man. She impressed upon me the importance of my future and, at some point in my life, her dreams for me became my own. Her words became the fuel that sustained me throughout my life journey. My achievements have been because of her, I am at this point because of her. It is with her spirit that I have encouraged and continue to encourage others as they transverse lifes difficult terrain. To family members whose stars will shin e much brighter: Julia Bethel, John III, Luci and Jeff; Vaun, and Xavier; my soon to be born granddaughter for John III and Rebecca; Darrell, Kim, Traci, Unique, Ebony, Reneesha, DJ, Meleke, Mahogany, and Latifah; Tytiona, Alyse, and Ronnie, Jr.; Yasmin, Oscar, Jr., and Lola Zen Frances; Byran, Jr., and Johnae Evonia; Desiree, De smond, Shumba and Baveon; Brandaesia; AMiracle and Kennedy; and all other family memb ers, this milestone is a beacon for each of you.

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Acknowledgements I acknowledge Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, because without him none of this could have been possible. I thank Dr. William Benjamin for affordi ng me the opportunity to realize this dream. I am grateful to my committee members, Dr. Leonard C. Burrello Chairman, Dr. Valerie J. Janesick, Dr. James L. Paul and Dr. Rosemary B. Closson for their wisdom, guidance and patience as I labored through this difficult but exhilarating process. I acknowledge Drs. William Blac k, Darlene Bruner, Bobbie Greenlee, Zorka Karanxha, Kofi Marfo, Carol Mullen, Anthony Onwuegbuzie, Janet Richards, and Deidre Cobb-Roberts for their support and the role they played in my academic growth. Also, I thank Susan Bennett and Antoinette Kirby-Smith for their friendship and persistence. I am grateful to Leila Diaz, for her assistan ce despite having a very full academic plate. To my sister, Julia Ann Brown, I owe her so much for her counsel, support, and friendship through the years; she is so very precious. To three strong, bold, fearless, and cari ng men who were mentors at critical periods in my adolescence development. David Catfish Battle, Russell Williams, and Dr. William Joyner made a difference in my lif e and without their guidance and influence I can only imagine where I may have ended up on my life journey. I acknowledge my wife Mrs. Annie E. Brow n who has accompanied me on this journey from the beginning; I love and I thank you so very much

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Table of Contents List of Figures iv Abstract v Chapter One Introduction 1 Purpose of the Study 2 Research Questions 3 Significance of this Study 4 Definition of Terms 5 Statement of the Problem 6 The Incarceration Link 8 The Economic Link 9 Children of Dropouts 10 Public Awareness and Response 11 Scope of the Problem in Florida 12 Depth of the Academic Problem 14 The Problem of System Policies and Practice 16 A Personal Perspective 17 Theoretical Frame: Critical Race Theory 23 Study Framework Case Study 24 Assumptions of the Case Study Method 26 Researcher Assumptions 26 Study Limitations 27 Ethical Issues 29 Chapter Summary 30 Organization of the Study 31 Chapter Two: Literature Review Introduction 33 Purpose of the Study 33 Why American Males of African Descent 34 Evolution of the Term Dropout 36 How the Literature Defines Dropouts 37 Why Students Drop Ou t of High School 42 Behavioral Explanation 46 Sociological Explanation 48 Political Explanation 49 Cultural Explanation 50 The Impact of Schools on Students Dropping Ou t of School 51 i

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Critical Race Theory 55 Chapter Summary 60 Chapter Three: Methodology Introduction 62 Purpose of the Study 62 Research Questions 62 Qualitative Research 63 Methodology 65 Strengths of the Case Study Method 66 Limitation of the Case Study Method 66 My Role as Researcher 68 School Information 70 Participant Selection 71 Data Collection 72 Interview Protocol 76 Data Analysis 77 Chapter Summary 82 Chapter Four: Data Presentation Introduction 83 Data Presentation 83 Research Question #1 83 Participants Opinions and Personal Feelings toward Students 84 Student Centered Issues 86 Role Models 87 Family Issues and Concerns 87 Peers 88 Community and Societal Concerns 89 Schools and Education/Teacher Related Issues 90 Research Question #2 92 Direct Administrative Action 94 Specific Dropout Prevention Programs 95 Improvements Needed to Address the Problem 96 Critique of Present Practices 96 Research Question #3 97 Research Question #4 101 School Centered 101 Community Centered 104 Family Centered 104 Critical Race Theory 105 Summary 109 ii

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Chapter Five: Recommendations and Conclusions Introduction 110 Purpose of the Study 110 Summary of Findings 110 Overview of the Research 110 Why Students Dropout 112 Critical Race Theory Theoretical Framework 117 Interpretation and Summary of the Findings 118 Research Question #1 120 Participants Opinions and Persona l Feelings toward the Students 120 Student centered issues 121 Role models 121 Family issues and concerns 122 Peers 122 Community and societal concerns 123 School and Education/Teacher Related Issues 123 Research Question #2 125 Direct administration action 128 Specific Dropout Prevention Programs 129 Improvement Needed to Address the Problem 130 Critique of Present Practices 130 Research Question #3 131 Research Question #4 132 School Centered 132 Community Centered 134 Family Centered 135 Recommendations for Social Change 135 Recommendations 141 Implications for Practice 142 Implications for Training 144 Recommendations for Future Study 145 Epilogue 146 References 152 Appendices 165 Appendix A Sample of an Interview Transcription 166 Appendix B Interview Protocol fo r Principals/Assist ant Principal 172 Appendix C Interview Protocol for School-Based Leaders 173 Appendix D Field Notes Form for Interviews with Principals/AP 174 Appendix E Field Notes Form for Interviews with School Based Leaders 176 About the Author End Page iii

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List of Figures Figure 5.1 How Perspectives of School-Based Leaders Were Gained 124 Figure 5.2 Knowledge of thei r Schools Dropout Rate 125 iv

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v A Case Study of School-Based Lead ers Perspectives on Dropouts John J. Brown, Jr. ABSTRACT School districts are failing to educate all of Americas children. Dropout statistics reveal that almost 7,000 students leave our na tions schools everyday. At this rate 1.2 million students will not graduate on time with their prospective classes. The majority of American male students of African descent are dropping out instead of completing high school. When compared to that of their whit e peers, the dropout ra te of American male students of African descent is significantly hi gher and the graduation rate much lower. This research examines high school dr opouts from the perspectives of school based leaders in a high school located in a ci ty in a large southern school district. Structured interviews, transcribed with member-checks, were conducted with eight school-based leaders. The data in this qualitative study were used to examine their perspectives of American ma le students of African descent dropping out of their high school. The researcher maintained a reflec tive research journal to enhance the data analysis. The study found that the perspectives of the eigh t school-based leaders were influenced by their past histories with these students; their personal and acquired knowledge of these students, their families, and their communities. They were largely uniformed of the dropout rate and their prev ious history with th ese students had an impact on their present level of support to these students.

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Chapter One Introduction Nationwide, school districts are failing to meet their primary responsibility for educating all of Americas children. Al most 7,000 students leave our nations schools everyday. At this rate, 1.2 million students will not graduate with their prospective classes on time. The Alliance for Excellent E ducation (2008) estimated that if the student dropouts from the class of 2008 had stayed in school and graduate d, 319 billion dollars would be added to the nations economy over the lifetime of these non-graduates. The Alliance warns that if the number of dropouts are not reduced over the next decade, 12 million students will be added to the dr opout rolls costing the nations economy one trillion dollars (Alliance fo r Excellent Education, 2008). On a macro level, the U.S ranks 18th worldwide in high school graduation rates and 15th in college graduation rates; this means that America is no longer the world leader when it comes to educating our children (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2008; Mckinsey & Company, 2009). On a micro level, when stude nts dropout of school, their leaving present serious educational and soci al problems within American society in a variety of ways. The domestic impact of students droppi ng out of schools costs state and local governments billions of dollars in public a ssistance, unemployment benefits, lost revenue and rehabilitation efforts (B ridgeland, DiIulio, & Wulsin, 2008; Christle, Jolivette, & 1

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Nelson, 2007; National Education Association, 2006; Orfield, Losen, Wald, & Swanson, 2004; Rumberger, 1983; Rumberger, 1987). Citize n tax dollars subsidize both the cost of medical treatment provided to uninsured dropouts and those co sts incurred when dropouts commit crimes and engage in criminal activity. Public coffers also absorb the costs related to incarcerating those dropout s who turn to lives of crime and are apprehended, prosecuted, adjudicated, and s ubsequently placed in juvenile facilities or are convicted in courts of record and sentenced to serve time in adult prisons. Dropouts present specific challenges for school districts that are responsible for ensuring that they receive a quality education (Swanson, 2008). Society also experiences the impact of these students leaving early as they forfeit many of the opportunities they would have had available to them as graduates with high school diplomas. Their desirability in the job market, having an oppor tunity to make a positive impact in their community, and a chance for post-secondary education all but vanishes when students leave high school before completion (Patterson, Hale, & Stressman, 2007). Purpose of the Study This study described the perspectives of eight school-based leaders regarding American male students of African descent; why they drop out of high school; and the role these school-based leaders play in prev enting these students from dropping out of high school. 2

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Research Questions The relevance of the design and constructi on of the research question are critical to the research as they are the scaffolding fo r the investigation and the cornerstone for the data analysis. It is through the research que stion(s) that the resear cher finds out exactly what he/she wants to know (Anfara, Br own, & Mangione, 2002, pg.31). The researcher is cautioned, however, to take care in developing research questions as these questions not only drive the research, they determine the type of instrument th e researcher uses, the data analysis techniques, and ultimately dete rmine the success or failure of the research (Onwuegbuzie & Leech, 2006). The research questions that guided this st udy allowed me to present the voices of the school-based leaders regardi ng: (a) their perspectives of American male students of African descent; (b) why these students drop out of high school; and (b) what efforts they have to prevent these students from dropping out of school. The questions that guided this research were: 1. What are school-based leaders perceptions of American male students of African descent and why they dr op out of high school? 2. Are the school-based leaders aware of the dropout rate of American male students of African descent? What efforts are being made to address these students dropping out of high school? 3. What role has school base leaders played in preventing American male students of African descent from dropping out of school? 3

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4. What is needed to keep American male st udents of African des cent in school until graduation? Significance of the Study Researchers have focused on dropping out of high school from the perspectives of those American male students of African decent, who have dropped out of schools (Barzee, 2008; Brown, 2003; Caton, 2005; Cl ark, 2004; James-Brown, 1995; Lewis, 1982; Redditt, 2005, Rumberger, 1987; Satc hel, 2006; Simpson, 2005; Spurrier, 2005; White-Johnson, 1996). By presenting the schoolbased leaders perspectives regarding American male students of African descen t dropping out of school, this research examined an important issue that impacts th ese students and society in general from the perspective of those who set pol icy and guide our schools. To that end, the goal of this research was to provide a clearer understand ing of American male students of African descent dropping out of school from the pe rspective of school-based leaders. By describing how school-based leaders percei ved American male students of African descent, why they dropped out of high sc hool and the role they play in dropout prevention, this research presented those voices of leadership in a high school regarding this critical issue. Giving voice to the sc hool-based leaders not only allowed them to share their perspectives of American male students of Af rican descent and their dropping out of school, they were able to espouse the efforts they made to address dropout prevention in their school. The knowledge ga ined from this research will advance the 4

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information base, improve practice and inform policy regarding Amer ican male students of African descent as will be discussed in chapter five. Definition of Terms 10 Book Club A program I developed as the assistan t principal at the alternative school that increased the number of books that par ticipating students read during a specific time frame. Teachers selected 10 books that studen ts read, discussed and wrote reports. I met with the students at the beginning of the read ing cycle and again at the end to give them encouragement and individual portraits. Alternative school An educational setting/program outside of the traditional school setting that provides for the educational needs of those ch ildren who are placed in the program. American male students of African descent The students in th is category as those traditionally referred to in the literature as African American or Black A complete explanation is offered in Chapter Two. Critical Race Theory Derrick Bell developed the th eory in the 1970s but Kimberly Crenshaw is credited with coining the name Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the 1980s. The theory represents a racial analysis, interv ention and critique of tr aditional civil rights theory and Critical Legal Theory The basi c premises are that race and racism are endemic to the American normative order and a pillar of American institutional and community life (Mutua, 2006, p.2). 5

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Dropout A child under the age of 17 who, becau se he no longer attends his school of record, was removed from the schools roll and is no longer counted as an active student and no longer attends his school of record. As a result, he has been removed from the schools roll and is no longer c ounted as an active student. Perspective A socially derived construct which includes values, beliefs, and behaviors (Janesick, 2004). It is a way of looking at situations or facts and making judgments based on those values or beliefs. Racism Intentional or unintentional culturally sanctioned beliefs that defend the advantages Whites have as a result of th e subordinated position of racial minorities (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995, p. 55). School-Based Leaders For this study, school-based leaders are defined as those persons in the high school who are responsible for the schoo ls daily operation, orderly functioning, policy creation and implementation and are in roles that impact students dropping out of school. School-based leader s in this study included: the schools administrators and guidance counselors Social Justice In this research, it refe rs to the extent that th e school-based leaders are making efforts to create a sc hool climate where all students receive equitable and fair treatment without regard for their race, sex, gender, or national orientation. Statement of the Problem The high student dropout rate in the U.S. has been well documented in the literature (Bridgeland, DiIulio & Wulsin, 2008 ; Jimerson, Egeland, Sroufe, & Carlson, 6

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2000; National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, 2008; Rumberger, 1983; Rumberger 1987; Swanson, 2008; Swanson, 2009). But inside the problem of children dropping out of schools is an even greater pr oblem for the nation and the school systems responsible for educating all of Americas ch ildren. That evasive challenge has been to address the dropout rates of Am erican male students of Af rican descent who have the highest dropout rate among all the student populations in this c ountry (Orfield, Losen, Wald & Swanson, 2004; UCLA, 2005). National dropout statistics re veal that a majority of American male students of African descent drop out instead of completing high school. When compared with their White peers, the dropout rate of American male students of African descent is significantly higher and the gra duation rate is much lower (Lee & Burkam, 2003; Orfield, 2004; Roderick, 1993; Swanson, 2004; Weis, Fa rrar, & Petrie, 1989). In 2001, American male students of African descent had a na tionwide high school gr aduation rate of 42.8 percent while their White male counterparts had a graduation rate of 70 percent (Nealy, 2008). This represents a 27.2 percentage gap between the two groups of students. Dropping out of high school can have serious consequences for those students who journey on that rocky road. One million American male students of African descent enrolled in public schools in the states of New York, Florida, and Georgia are twice as likely not to graduate with their class on time (Holzman, 2006; The Schott Foundation, 2008). When these students venture into soci ety, without a high school diploma, they are unprepared to meet the myriad of challe nges that await them (Patterson, Hale & 7

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Stressman, 2007). The futures for these nongraduates are plagued with individual, economic and social tragedy (Darling-H ammond, 2000; Jimerson, Egeland, Sroufe, & Carlson, 2000; Rumberger, 1983). The data predict that many of these children are destined to have some form of contact with the justice system, at some point in their lives, as those males who are less educated are 5 to 8 times more likely to become incarcerated than college gradua tes (McKiney & Company, 2009). The Incarceration Link The United States leads the world in prison incarcerations (Carroll, 2008) and American males of African descent, many of whom are high school dropouts, disproportionately fill the pr ison populations, have the highest unemployment, are the most unmarried or divorced, a nd lead the statistics of t hose living in poverty. Although American males of African descent are six percent of the U.S. population, they account for 70 percent of the total prison populati on (Nealy, 2008). Fifty-two percent of all American males of African descent in their thirties, with prison records, have also dropped out of school at some point in their lives (Orfield, 2004). The unemployed dropout is six to ten times more likely to be involved in criminal activities than those youth of the same age who are employed (K ranick & Hargis, 1998). The high school dropout is eight times as likely to end up in jail or on probation as the youth who stayed in school and earned a high school diploma (Jimerson, Egeland, Sroufe, & Carlson, 2000; Schoenlein, 2004). Many of these high sc hool dropouts find themselves on merry-gorounds that revolve in and out of the criminal justice system. 8

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While the average state spends $23,876 a year to incarcerate these youth, the average state spends $8,701 for a K-12 educat ion and the average college tuition is $10,674 a year (Carroll, 2008). These figures suggest that that a cost saving could be realized by educating these students instead of incarcerating them which is a more expensive alternative. When the American male students of African descent drop out and escape the incarceration link, adequate supports may not be available that allow them to provide for a family and become a productive member of society. The Economic Link The economic impact of dropping out of school extends well beyond just the students and their families. At the national, st ate, and local levels, billions of dollars are spent annually addressing those issues that are a direct result of students dropping out of school (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2008; UCLA: The Civil Ri ghts Project, 2005; Weis, Farrar, & Petrie, 1989). Many hi gh school dropouts are incapable of earning enough money to provide the essentials that guarantee the economi c health of their families. In 2000, the average income for a high school dropout was $12,400 and $21,000 for a high school graduate, an income gap of $8,600 (Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2007). In 2005, the average income for the high school dropout was $17,299 and $26,933 for the high school graduate, an in come gap of $9,634 (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2008). Despite the increase in the average dollars earned (from $12,400 to $17,299) over the five year period, when compared to the increase of the earning power of the high school graduate (from $21,000 to $26,933), the income gap widen by $1,034. 9

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The average incomes of high school dropouts fell farther behind the incomes of the high school graduates over the five year period. Pottinger (1997) examined the economic imp act that American males of African descent high school dropouts had on the commun ity of Benton Heights, Michigan. She found that each dropout lost about $200,000 over his lifetime and the group had a subsequent $715.6 million dollar impact on the economy of that community (Pottinger, 1997). Although the dropout is at an economic di sadvantage compared to the high school graduate, the American males of African descent who drop out of school fare even worst. The obstacles they face may not only have a negative impact on their individual hope for survival on their own, but they severely cripple any hope of the dropouts adequately providing for a family. Limited are the viab le expectations for those dropouts who are financially unable to sustain families but find themselves with families and existing below the poverty level. Are those children in the families of dropouts likely to fare any better than their parent who th emselves dropped out of school? Children of Dropouts For many students, dropping out of school is a family tradition because the children of dropouts are likely to follow in their parents footsteps (Gallagher, 2002). The dropouts progeny is likely to have poor a cademic performance, attend poor schools, maintain the same attitudes toward school as their parents, and thus they will likely to drop out themselves (Orfield, 2004). This poi nt should not be ignored because if the 10

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dropouts and their children are written off by so ciety, they will find ways to survive even if these coping skills place them in direct c onflict with societal rules and values. Given the high numbers of dropouts and their potent ial impact upon society, should the public plan to address the issue sooner rather than later? Public Awareness and Response Despite the critical nature of the problem of the American male student of African descent dropping out of school, the overall public has remained largely apathetic, as there is no nationwide out cry to solve the problem. Nationally, limited pressures are exerted on school districts to acknowledge this crisis and provide solutions to the problem. According to Orfield (2004), the public is not alarmed due to the misleading data and the inaccurate reporting of high dropout and low graduati on rates for American male students of African descent. This keeps th e issue under the public radar and while the problem is both an educational and civil right s crisis it has not occupied a high enough position on the civil rights agenda because th e related published data have not suggested this problem is of significant urgency (Orf ield, 2004). Even though the dropout rate of American male students of African descent is id entified as a civil rights issue, it seems to elicit a very different kind of response from both the people and the government of this country. The overall response to the civil right crisis of the high dropout and low graduation rate for American males of Af rican descent has been without the same urgency that fueled the 1960s civil rights movement when citizens marched, picketed, and petitioned the government to do something about it. 11

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The publics willingness to petition and demand that adequate resources be allotted for planning and program s to attack the dropout problem seems to fall short as evidenced by the data which show that the dropout rate of American male students of African descent continues to rise year after year, at rates mu ch higher than any their peer groups (Patterson, Hale, & Stressman, 2007). This is especially true for the state of Florida whose low graduation and high dropout rates of American males of African descent makes it one of the national leaders in those two categories. Scope of the Problem in Florida In 2002, the states in the southern regi on of the U.S. (West Virginia, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Flor ida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Virginia) had the lowest graduation rates in the country. While the combined average graduation rate for all students was 64.5 percent, it was 55.3 percent for American students of African descent. Of the five most southern states (North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida) Florida had the lowest graduati on rate (38.3 percent) for American male students of African descent. Researchers reported that there was a high correlation between racial and socio-econom ical segregated schools and very low graduation rates (UCLA, 2005). Floridas dropout rate of American ma le students of African descent is disproportionately high in relation to th e overall student population. While more American male students of African descent atte nd schools in Florida th an any other state, 12

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their graduation rate is lo wer than the national average (Holzman, 2006). In the 20032004 school year, Florida had an enrollmen t of 320,962 American male students of African descent. In that same year, the graduation rate for American male students of African descent was 31 percent but the gradua tion rate for white male students was 54 percent, a gap of 23 percent (Holzman, 2006). Data show that American male students of African descent enrolled in Florida, New York and Georgi a public schools are twice as likely not to graduate with their class (Holzman, 2006; The Schott Foundation, 2008). During the 2002 school year, Hillsbor ough County enrolled 20,080 American male students of African descent and had 4,105 out of school suspensions. During that same year, 41,605 white males were enrolled and had 3,560 out of school suspensions. Also in that same year, 25 American male students of African descent students were expelled and 30 White male students were expelled. Given the amount of time that students spend away from school due to suspen sions and expulsions may be reflected in the high dropout and low graduation rates. When students are not in school they are unable to take advantage of learning opportunities offered by the school. In Hillsborough County in the 2003-2004 school year, while the American male students of African descent population was 21,702; the American male student of African descent graduation rate was 34 percent; the wh ite male graduation rate was 57 percent, a gap of 23 percent (Holzman 2006). Although in the 2003-2004 school year, Hillsborough County had a three percentage poin t advantage over the state of Florida for graduation rates for both American male st udents of African descent and white male 13

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students (the states gradua tion rate for the 2003-2004 school year was 54 percent for whites and 31 percent for American males of African descent; Hillsborough Countys graduation rates were 57 percent for white s and 34 percent for American males of African descent), the gap between both groups at the local and state le vels were identical at 23 percent. Samuels (2008) noted that a class ac tion suit filed against Palm Beach County, Florida claimed that the countys low gradua tion rate violated the Florida Constitution. One of the issues of the class action suit, Samuels indicated, was that the methods the districts used to calculate graduation rate s often do not provide accurate information. According to Samuels (2008), for the 2005-2006 school year, the di strict reported a graduation rate of 69.3 percent but when a l eading expert calculate d the graduation rate using a different method, the actual graduati on rate for the county was 58.1 percent. The lawsuit sought to require the district to accu rately define and impr ove the graduation rates for minority and students from lowincome households (Samuels, 2008). Depth of the Academic Problem Bailey and Paisley (2004) found that American male students of African descents poor academic and social performance can be li nked to the lack of role models, low selfesteem, hopelessness, productivity dysfuncti on, and low expectations by the school, communities, and society at large. They re ported that although educators, researchers, and community leaders have discussed the poor performances and failures of these students, with a few exceptions, little mean ingful efforts have been made toward 14

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addressing the core issues at a point wher e it would do the most good (Bailey & Paisley, 2004). A disproportionate number of American male students of African descent are expelled, suspended, regulated to special e ducational programs at larger numbers than their white peers (Foster, 1995). Political, economic, and sociological factors within schools are responsible for schools failing to promote and educate students because educators handicap their school systems as a result of what little they know about American students of African descents deve lopment and socialization. This lack of knowledge is one reason some school personnel fear American males of African descent and demonize them as a result of this fear (Murrell, 1994). Background alone fails to adequately prepar e middle-class educat ors to work with children of color. Without additional training to cope with the misc onceptions that often exists within their cultural context, middle-class white teachers may be ineffective working with American male students of African descent (Ladson-Billings, 2000; Murrell, 1994; Stearns & Glennie, 2006). White teachers may not understand behavior and banter that is normal for these children and the result is that they may misinterpret it for what they perceive as hostility and aggr ession and they may act/react based on these misinterpreted perceptions. According to Cooper (2003), the probability is high that American male student of African descent will experience predominately white teachers during the course of their academic careers ye t little is known about the effectiveness of these white teachers teaching American male students of African descent in the public 15

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school setting. Frankenberg (2006) echoed th at although most of the teachers are white, they have not had an educational history that was racially diverse (Frankenberg, 2006). The Problem of System Policies and Practices Despite district pressures to raise standa rdized test scores and keep the dropout rates low to ensure that st udents graduate, there is evidence that suggests that schoolbased practices are responsible for the high dr opout rate (Danielson, 2002). The practices of tracking, overcrowded classrooms, misl abeling of minority students, and high expulsion rates have added to the disproportionate dropout rate of minority students (Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2007; McKenzie & Scheurick, 2004; Weis et al., 1989). These practices seem to elevate the syst ems needs and the students individual educational needs appear to be of secondary concern. Being treated impersonally, unfairly, and th e recipient of harsher discipline can leave a lasting impact on the impressionable minds of any student but clearly has had negative consequences for American male child ren of African descent. Because many of these students are savvier than given credit by educators, they can easily see through the games played on them within the school system While their reactions are threatening to some within the school setting, it offers them some degree of protection at a basic level. While their actions may be a means of self protection, it comes across to some in the school as being challenging, threatening and aggressive. 16

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A Personal Perspective In November 1996, I became the first assist ant principal at an alternative school that was housed within a newl y built 350-bed Level 8 juvenile facility that was operated by a for profit corporation. In Florida, Level 10 is the highest designation for juvenile facilities. Juveniles placed in Level 10 fac ilities are adjudicated for serious offenses or crimes; have displayed habitual criminal behavior; have displayed habitual severe behavioral problems in lower level facili ties; and/or displayed behavior deemed unmanageable (escape risk or ha bitual rule violations) in lower level facilities. A Level 8 facility is one step below maximum security which is Level 10. When the facility first opened, our population consisted of juveniles transferred from othe r facilities in the state. Many of these youth were problems that other facilities were more than willing to remove from their populations. School records revealed that many of th e students had been dropouts, push-outs, or had been completely disengaged from th e public school system prior to their being charged with an offense(s), subsequent comm itment, and placement at the facility. The students school records showed prior histories of school fa ilures, behavioral problems, and poor attendance when they did attend school. In my role as assistant principal, I actively engaged the students during school hours and in the dormitories (housing units) before and after school hours and on weekends. During their stay at the facility, many of the children improved their school related behavioral/performance and made some academic progress at the school. Thus, I 17

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saw students who were very different from those who were described in the school records sent that from their communities. For some of the students, the academic difference I saw in them was as stark as ni ght and day. In fact many eagerly involved themselves in the educational and other special programs offered by the school. These were some of the same students who had been reluctant to or failed to participate in the schools in their communities. Many of the st udents earned their diploma from the school and we held graduation ceremoni es and invited their parents and family members. I had a student who requested that I take pictures of him in his cap and gown. He wanted to send a picture to his family but he wanted an additional picture to send to his high school guidance counselor who told hi m he would never graduate. I developed and maintained several programs that provided academic and personal incentives and challenges to the stud ents. The programs encouraged students to improve and sustain their academic performance. Some of the students realized an increase in their reading level when they pa rticipated in the 10 Book Club; some were rewarded for displaying exemplary behavior within the school and their living spaces; some were tutored after school and on th e weekends and given additional reading practice and the opportunity to participate in poetry appreciation and practice public speaking. What I saw, in many instances, were students who were no different from other students in their age group. One of the obvious differences was that the children in the Level 8 facility were confined in a stru ctured environment with specific behavioral and academic expectations. In that type of se tting I applied the rules to all of the children 18

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equally. Other differences were the class size and that there we re youth workers who were responsible for movement of their gr oup of students throughout the school day. My experience as assistant principal at the school was that most children displayed appropriate behavior and complied with the ru les and expectations wh en staff were firm, fair and applied the rules cons istently with all students. As assistant principal, frequently I observ ed classrooms and assisted teachers in addressing issues they had with their students. I found that the teachers who: (a) actively engaged their students in class; (b) talked to instead of at or down to their students; (c) had high expectations for thei r students; (d) prepared for and creatively presented their lessons; (e) were culturally sens itive and respected all of thei r students both in and out of class; (f) did not show fear of the students in the classroom; (g) took time to respond to the students and answered thei r questions; (h) participated in other aspects of the program with their students; and (i) generally showed authenticity with the students had few problems that they were unable to address with their students in their classrooms. I rarely received complaints from students about th ese teachers. If f act, on many occasions, students made certain that I was aware of their thoughts and fee lings regarding the effectiveness of these teachers. They wanted me to know their positive feelings toward these teachers and how these teachers had made a difference in their academic performances and their personal lives. Many students were very protective of these teachers and the physical condition of these teachers classrooms. 19

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On the other hand, some teachers did ha ve problems with their students making academic progress and displaying negative behavior in their classrooms. From my personal observations, some of these teacher s issues were manifested in their own attitudes, behaviors and actions toward th e students. These teachers attitudes and behavior toward the students prevented their connecting with some of the students and as a result, they were sometimes targets of student attacks that were aimed at paying them back for some perceived injustice. These t ypes of incidents were infrequent occurrences and were confined to certain teachers and not others. On one occasion a teacher had his electric pencil sharpener filled with water. On others, teachers had graffiti drawn on their doors and in their rooms and there were other times when some teachers had items stolen from them or their classes. During my seven year tenure as the assistant principal at the alternative school, I worked under four different principals, all of whom had many years of administrative experience in the public school system prior to their being appoint ed principal at the alternative school. Each principal was unique regarding their role as principal and their thinking/behavior toward the faculty, the staff and the students. The first principal was a retired superintendent of a school system and had relocated from a northern state specifically for the job. The second principa l had run a successful vocational program prior to his accepting the job. The third prin cipal had been an administrator in a public school system for many years a nd had retired prior to his ac cepting the job. The fourth principal had been an administrator with a public school system for years and was in the 20

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district office prior to accepting the job as principal of the school. After working very closely with these principals, I discovered th at their perspectives were a result of their training, experience, personal and professional values, knowledge, and skill levels. These perspectives were manifested through their attitudes and behaviors toward the faculty, the educational program, the st udents, and the facility. At the same time I worked as the assistan t principal, I enrolled in a Master of Education program that required my completi ng an internship in two public schools. I selected a high school and a middle school to complete the requirement. The internship afforded me the chance to view the role of the educational ad ministrator through the lenses of two principals in two different levels in public schools. My seven year tenure as assistant princi pal at the Level 8 facility and the time I spent as an intern in two public schools provided me the unique opportunity to closely observe six different principals navigating the principalship from six very different perspectives. My experiences made it very cl ear that a school-based leaders perspective is critical to the operation and functioning of a school. Th e schools climate, policies, procedures and practices, the enforcement of the rules and regulat ions, the facultys attitudes and behaviors, and the students responsiveness to the schools administration were all impacted by each of the six principa ls and their perspectives regarding the role of the principal. In their roles, principals exert control over every aspect of the school and their footprint is found at al l levels of the schools operation. 21

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Despite the knowledge gained from observi ng and working with these principals, there were areas that I do not think were e xplored adequately. One was their thinking regarding teacher training and developmen t issues and the other was their personal perspectives of the students at the facility or in the community. The majority of students in population were Americans males of African descent and from my observations, each of the principals had very a different understa nding and comfort level in working with the students and staff. It was al so obvious that my perspective was very different from each of the principals. Having earned a masters degree in social work and working toward earning a masters degree in education, my va ntage point incorporated a combination of both disciplines but tilted toward social wor k. I developed a realiz ation that although a school performs better when the administrato rs uses the team approach, the control inherent in the principals position made th em ultimately responsible and accountable for every aspect of the schools operation. This includes staff (who goes and who stays), grades and testing, discipline, grade placements and numerous decisions that impact staff and the overall operation of the school. When I began thinking about the topic I would research, I was certain of two things. First, I wanted to investigate the im pact of school based l eaders on a real problem that related to these boys whose behavior in the community was so much different in my school. My experience with the principals, with whom I worked, was that they could make a difference when they wanted to make the difference. Second, I wanted to make 22

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some aspect of American males students of African descent the focus because they seemed so much different than their school records suggested. Theoretical Frame Critical Race Theory Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the theoretical frame that guides this study. According to DeCuir & Dixon, since Lads on-Billings and Tate introduced CRT to education in 1995 it has emerged as a powerfu l theoretical and analytical framework within educational research (DeCuir & Dixson, 2004). Resear chers note that CRT is an accepted tool that assists educators in unde rstanding how race and racism impact upon educational practices. CRT is viewed as a framework for examining how race and racism impact structures, processes and discourse within the context of teacher education while seeking to transform society by identifying, analyzing and eliminating subtle and overt forms of racism in education (Smith, Yosso & Solrzano, 2007). Critical Race Theory scholars provide in sight for explaining, not only, how race can be a factor effecting the dropout rate of American males of African descent, but also, how and why these students are treated as they are in U.S. schools. In this inquiry, the focus is the third theme of CRT, a commitment to social justice. Using this social justice theme I discuss the school-based leaders beliefs about American male students of African descent; wh at reasons they believe are responsible for their dropping out of their schoo l and what efforts have they made to prevent these 23

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children dropping out of their sc hool. My belief is tied to my thinking that school-based leaders perceptions drive their actions to ward dropout and dropout prevention in their schools. Study Framework Case Study Through case study researchers are able to intensively study, holistic describe and analyze a phenomena as it exists in th e natural setting (Mason & Bramble, 1997; Merriam, 1998). In the case study, the key concern is gaining an understanding of the phenomena of interest from the participants perspective; this method allows the researcher to obtain the emic or insider's pe rspective of the situation and the meaning it has for the subjects of th e inquiry (Merriam, 1998). As a qualitative approach, case study research explores a bounded system (a case) or multiple bounded systems (cases) over time (Creswell, 2007; Merriam, 1998), through detailed, in-depth data collection (Creswe ll, 2007; Sprinthall, Schmutte, & Sirois, 1991) involving multiples sources of information (e.g., observations, interviews, audiovisual material, and documents and reports), and reports a case descrip tion and case-based themes (Creswell, 2007, p. 73). Miles a nd Huberman (1994), describes a case as a phenomenon that occurs in a bounded system (a specified social a nd physical setting); a unit of analysis that can be one or more cases (p.26). A case study can be a methodology (Cresw ell, 2007; Lacy, 1993), a type of design in qualitative research, an object of study, or a produc t of the research (Creswell, 2007; Patton, 2002). It is seen as either a process of analysis (Merriam, 1998; 24

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Patton, 2002; Sprinthall, Schmutte, & Sirois, 1991 ) or the product of analysis (Creswell, 2007) and in some instances a case study can be both (Patton, 2002). As an analysis process, it represents a specified manner in which data are collected, organized, and analyzed. When the information is collected in a comprehensive, systematic and in depth manner for each case of interest, the analysis process results in a pr oduct that is the case study (Patton, 2002, p. 447). Case study examin es phenomena as they exist in their natural settings (Mason & Bramble, 1997); but what makes the case study different from other types of qualitative research is the dir ect policy implications relating to the case study method. In the case study method, researchers are obligated to draw pointed conclusions from the case study and eith er explicitly or implicitly make recommendations that will alter pol icy and/or practice (Lacy, 1993, p. 143). The insights gained from the case study can not only directly influence present policy and practice; it can have an impact on fu ture research. In terms of overall intent, case study describes, interprets, evaluates some phenomena or builds theory (Merriam, 1998). This qualitative research uses cas e study to describe how key school-based leaders perceive American male students of African descent; why they are dropping out of high school; their schools role in dropout prevention; and what they are doing to challenge these students from exiting school ea rly and unprepared for life void of a high school education. 25

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Assumptions of the Case Study Method Pring (2000) notes that certain philos ophical assumptions guide the case study method that are relevant to both the method and researcher. According to Ping, these assumptions are: the researcher should begin the inquiry with an open mind and allow the data to speak for themselves; because of the intensity of the focus on th e particular case(s) it may not permit generalizibility to other ca se(s) although the rich, thic k graphic descriptions may seem similar in other situations; questions emerge about the objectivity and validity of the research claims. Objectivity is challenged because it cannot be truthfully asserted th at the researchers presence had no effect upon the case(s). Pr ing notes that the language/voice of the participants must be used to describe their situation otherwise it would not be their situation that is being investigated (Pring, 2000). In other words, the reality of the inquiry has to be the reality as it is defined by the participants. Researcher Assumptions My assumptions regarding this research reflect my training as a social worker; my seven years experiences as an educational admi nistrator of an altern ative school within a 350 bed Level 8 juvenile facility; from the various positions in my 24 years in state government where I worked in the central o ffice of a state child serving agency; as a manager, coordinator and officer in a court sett ing; and in a juvenile institution. Also, my 26

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earned master degrees in both social work a nd education; my demonstrated profession competence; and my personal and professi onal insights provide me treasures of experiences and knowledge from which to draw thoughts, ideas and opinions. The following assumptions guided my thinking as I conducted this research study: there are explanations for the high dropout and low graduation rates of American males of African descent can be explained by research. some portion of the high dropout and low graduation rates for American male students are reflective of systemic issues out side of their or their familys control. school based-leaders can impact all f acets of the school including policies, practices and procedures that impact th e dropout and graduation rates of American male students of African descent. race influences the high dropout rate of American male students of African descent in U.S. schools. Study Limitations The analysis, interpretation and recommendations of this research are specific to the school-based leaders of the school in th e study and can not necessarily generalized district wide, statewide or nationally as the perspectiv es are those of the studys participants. The data from this study was collected from interviews with school-based leaders. Self reporting and self reported information can present problems in data collection and may be inaccurate for a number of reasons. The interviewee may have left out information or may have not revealed information that they believed might negatively 27

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reflect upon them or their school. Information may have been enhanced or diminished as the school-based leaders may not have been will ing to reveal information that might cast disparity on them or their positions within the school. Because of the voluntary nature of the participation for this study, not all of the identified school based leaders volunteered to partic ipate in the research. The staff were given the option to participate when the research abstract was presented, by the principal, during a faculty meeting. As a result, nine individuals volunteered, however, when the interviews began one person decided to decline involvement in the study. It is uncertain if the participation of all of the school-based leaders w ould have enhanced the data collected. My guess is that it would have to some degree as the person who declined to participate was mentioned during the interviews as being involved w ith at-risk students. As an American male of African de scent my objectivity could have been impacted by my intimate knowledge of the comm unity of Americans of African descent. Without a clear understanding of how I, as a res earcher, could bias the research effort in the areas of data collection and data analys is, the imprint of my biases could possibly influence the data collection and analysis. Growing up as an American male of African descent in a segregated community and spending my professional life working with similar children and families, my experiences give me a unique understanding of issues related to American males of African descent. On the other hand, my being an American male of African descent could ha ve limited the responses of th e participants if they have problems/issues with me because of my race/sex or any of my other personal 28

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characteristics. As a result steps were taken to address researcher bias that will be discussed in chapter three. Ethical Issues When I began the research I identified several ethical con cerns I thought might have an impact on the study. First, I thought that my passion for the subject may be a potential issue that could play a significant role in all facets of the study from the formulation of the concept, to the data coll ection, analysis, and wr ite-up. Therefore, I recognized and acknowledged this as having a potential impact on the research. To lessen the impact I: (a) maintained a journal that documented my thoughts and feelings as I conducted the interviews; (b ) I member checked the data in all but two of the transcripts; (d) I discussed my concerns with my committee chair on a regular basis. Confidentiality of the data was another ar ea that I thought about prior to the data collection and I devised a codi ng system. However, this system created problems that I will go into in Chapter 3. I in itially had concerns about what to do with information that may be revealed in the interviews that would be of an explosive or extremely sensitive nature. I talked about this with committee me mbers and it was decided that if, during the interviews this type of information woul d surface, then I woul d discuss it with the committee and get direction as to the best way to handle it. I saw my role as maintaining the integrity of the research by following the ru les as set forth to maintain confidentially of the responses of the school-based leaders. 29

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Chapter Summary The goal of educational equity for all ch ildren is not bei ng met because school systems are not educating all of the Am ericas children (Ladson-Billings, 2000). American male students of African descent ar e fairing worst as they are leaving and not graduating from our nation's high schools at higher rates than their peer groups. The reverberations of these students dropping out of schools are measured in terms of the billions of dollars spent by national, state, and local governments to provide social services for the dropouts and protection for the communities. When American males of African descent drop ou t of the high school their future s are uncertain as they enter society unprepared to meet the many challenges they will face. Among the plethora of issues awaiting them, those who are less educ ated usually lead unh ealthy life styles accentuated by high incidents of smoking and obesity (McKinsey & Company, 2009). What lies ahead for this group of American s is the potential for economic hardships (unemployment, low wages, living in poverty); contact with the justice system (lives of crime, incarceration); depende ncy on public assistance; di vorce; and fathering children who will follow in their footsteps. The public's overall response to this cris is is varied (Swanson, 2009). In some instances, legal remedies were pursued to fo rce school districts to improve the graduation rates for minorities as school districts have not effectively addressed the problem and the dropout rates of American male students of Af rican descent continue to increase yearly. School practices such as track ing, over-crowded classrooms, mislabeling and expelling 30

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American male students of African descent im pact the dropout rate of these students who are also more likely to be labeled mentally retarded or emotionally disturbed more than any other student group (Children's Defense Fund, 2005). The high dropout rate is evidence of the failure of public schools to educate children (Wolk, 2009). To address this, school -based leaders must show willingness or ability to take initiatives toward finding solutions to en sure the success of any school program (Kammoun, 1991). Because school-based leaders are responsible for all aspects of their schools operation, th eir perspectives greatly impact the policies, procedures, and practices that are put in place during their tenur e. The perspectives that the school-based leaders bring to the job are reflective of th eir training; educati on; ability; depth of personal and professional experiences; and th eir personal and profe ssional value systems. Through case study methods, this research will describe the perspectives of schoolbased leaders regarding American male students of A frican descent; their dropping out of school; their role in dropout prevention; and wh at efforts they are making to challenge these students exiting school early. Organization of the Study Chapter 2 presents a review of the liter ature. The chapter begins with an explanation of the organization of the chapter followed by the reason for using American male students of African descent instead of African American to describe the student population in the study. This is followed by a discussion of the evolution of the term dropout and various definitions of a dropout that are found in the litera ture. I then provide 31

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an overview of the literature relating to Amer ican male students of African descent who dropout of high schools. I discuss several st udies regarding these students and their dropping out of high school. Next, I talk about the efforts that are being made to address the issue at the federal, state and local governme nt levels and it will explore what is being done in various communities across the count ry. A discussion follows of schools impact on drop outs. An overview of Critical Race Theory (CRT) is given and Chapter 2 ends with a summary of the liter ature regarding dropouts. Chapter 3 begins with an introductio n, followed by a chapter overview and a discussion of the studys methodol ogy. A discussion is provided regarding the nature of the qualitative study and how the case study appro ach relates to the rese arch. I then offer a description of the research design and my reason for selecting this topic, followed by a discussion of the site selecti on rationale and data collecti ng procedures. The interview protocol is presented. This section concludes with a chapter summary. After the introduction in Chapter 4, the data is presented as they relate to the research questions. The data is presented in the voice of the school-based leaders. I conclude with a chapter summary. After the introduction and purpose of the study, Chapter 5, offers an overview of the research; a discussion of why students drop out of school and the framework of the research. Next, an interpretati on of the findings as they relate to the research questions is given followed by recommendations in various areas. I discuss various recommendations ending with an epilogue. 32

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Chapter Two Literature Review Introduction This chapter begins with the purpose of the study followed by a discussion of the evolution of the concept of th e dropout. I then provide my reason for the preference of Americans of African descent over African-Americans. Next I offer a discussion of the various definitions of dropout that are f ound in the literature. An overview of the literature regarding American male students of African descent dr opouts is followed by what researchers say the dropouts report are th e reasons they drop out of school. I then provide a discussion of the explanations f ound in the literature for American male students of African descent dr opping out of school. These cate gories are: (a) behavioral; (b) sociological; (c) pol itical; and (d) cultural. In the next section, I discuss the impact of schools and school-based leaders on American males of African descent dropping out of school. This is followed by a review of Critic al Race Theory and its importance to this study. The literature review c oncludes with a chapter summary. Purpose of the Study This study described the perspectives of eight school-based leaders regarding American male students of African descent; why they drop out of high school; and the role these school-based leaders play in prev enting these students from dropping out of high school. 33

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Why American Male Students of African Descent In this research and in general discourse, I prefer to use Americans of African descent to refer to those who the literature and society, in general, refer to as African American or Black . I do so after much thought. In his discussion regarding the labeling of former slaves and the name progressions of those former slaves throughout the years, Ghee (1990) argued successfully for changing the name designation from Black to African-American. His argume nt was accepted and African-American became the accepted designation for a people who had undergone various name designations through the years. As he developed his argument, Ghee (1990) used the designation Americans of African descent as he walked the reader through the various name changes that the former slaves underwent. While researching the literature for this study I found that almost all of the articles referred to this population of children as African-Americans dropouts. Although this is the accepted name designation, it seems that Americans of African descent more accurately desc ribes these Americans with African ancestry. In the past few years, after having met Africans from the continent of Africa who are now American citizens, I began to que stion the legitimacy of the designation of African-American being placed on the descendents of former slaves in this country. The African born American citizens, in my opini on, are truly African-Americans as they can point to the countries, cities a nd villages in Africa where they were born on they can identify the birth places of th eir parents or grandparents. If they or their parents are 34

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American citizens then, I believe, they have a rightful claim to both Africa and America and the right of being referred to as African -Americans. On the other hand, how accurate is it that those of us who can only trace the lineage of our parents, or grandparents, or their parents directly to this country, can lay any claim of legitimacy to Africa? I think that the designation of American or American of African descent more accurately describe those of us whose ancestry is rooted in this country. This logic seems to give a legitimacy of the claim to citizenship in America first and foremost. The of African descent recognizes their being descendents in the lineage of those Africans who were brought to these shores in chains and were made to endure the crue lty and hardship of over four-hundred years of bondage. Because the slaves and former slaves played an equal role in building this c ountry to its greatness, their de scendants have no less claim to the land and rights of full citizenship th an do the former slave-owners and their descendents. I therefore prefer Americans of African descent as an acknowledgement of shared ownership and a rightful claim to legitimacy as an American citizen. Another point that influenced my thi nking regarding the designation AfricanAmerican was the manner in which the term African-American dropout was used in the literature. It seemed as though these children we re seen as Africans and by implication not real American children. It was the seemingly very subtle manner in which these children were seen as them and not us, led me to th ink that the African in African-American may have an impact upon the way these children are being seem by society overall. It is my thinking that although these children are de scendents of Africans 35

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who were brought to this country as slaves in 1619, today they are authentic American citizens and as American citizens they deserv e all the rights and privileges that their American heritage guarantees them. That incl udes being thought of as Americans first and foremost. Evolution of the term Dropout The term dropout emerged in the early 1960s to describe those students who left school early before receiving a high sc hool diploma. Prior to 1960, the phrases elimination from school or leaving school we re used interchangeab ly when referring to those students who left school before graduation. The dropout problem was created by education and social critics instead of it be ing discovered as a phenomenon. As a social construction, the premise of dropping out is based on the assumption that schools are accountable for and have the re sponsibility to so cialize adolescents, prevent delinquency and dependency, and to keep students in sc hool until they graduated. Subsequently, students dropping out became an indictment on the effectiveness of schools as their dropping out cast school systems as failures be cause they did not achieve their primary goal of educating all children (Dorn, 1996). By the 1970s, the student dropout problem was no longer a front burner issue as school systems nationwide focused on desegr egation suits, and busing mandates. According to Dorn, in the 1970s, The Children's Defense Fund and the Southern Regional Council sought to frame the exclusi on of Black children in a civil rights context. They argued that students were being pushed out of school through 36

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discriminatory discipline pr actices that unfairly denied American students of African descent their right to an education. As a re sult of forced desegregation, the rates that these children were suspended and pushed out of schools by public school officials were much higher than those of their White counterparts (Dorn 1996). In the 1980s, conservatives espoused two positions that some believed would increase the dropout rate. The fi rst suggested that society need ed to socialize and train all adolescents; the other recommended that some children should drop out to make schools safer for those students who were more conc erned with obtaining an education. They saw potential dropouts as being behavioral problems that had an impact on the school's ability to raise its academic standards (Dorn, 19 96). It seemed that some were satisfied with removing these children from school ra ther than addressing the main reasons for these students dropping out of school. How the Literature defines Dropout The dropout problem is complex and the one reason the extent of the problem is not completely understood is the lack of a nationwide consensus definition of exactly what is a dropout. There is little standard ization regarding the definition of a dropout because states are allowed to define dropouts and dropout rates as they see fit. Because of minimum federal and state oversight, it is difficult to compare and contrast dropout rates and data accuracy between states. L iterature relating to defining school dropouts varies and because the term is not consiste ntly defined, it is difficult to monitor and conduct research on the subject in a systematic manner. The absence of a consensus 37

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regarding the best method of reporting dropout data has hampered efforts to standardize a definition of the dropout (Christle, Joliv ette, & Nelson, 2007; Orfield, Losen & Wald, 2004; Rumberger, 1987; Samuels 2007). Samples of the plethora of definitions of a dropout are presented in this section. Samuels (2007) cites two types of dropouts. The first type he identifies as leaving school as result of life events. These life events may include pregnancy or bullying from other students. The second type drops out because of a history of academic failure. Attendance is relevant because as the a ttendance of these students decreased their academic failures increased to where they finally stop attending school altogether (Samuels, 2007). Kranick & Hargis (1998) describe several types of dropouts. Quiet or Invisible dropout these stude nts go unnoticed until they have dropped out of school. They are low achievers who have experienced failure throughout their school career. This is the largest group. Low achievers with low learning abilitie s Because of thei r abilities they continually fail and repeat grades and cour ses. These students react to failure by being disruptive and annoyi ng in the classroom setti ng. They constantly call attention to themselves in ways that make teachers and administrators notice them. They dont like to fail and they avoid failure by avoiding school. They are the truants that are purged from the sc hools rolls by being pushed out through 38

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suspension or expulsion. The irony is th at these students are punished for their behavior while in school and punished if they avoid school. Adequate student with average or above-average potential. These students can be creative in many ways that pl ace them in conflict with th e structured curriculum. To many of these students the work is bori ng and bears little relevance to them. The courses may be too easy; they ma y have personal financial or family problems that override the importance of sc hool. The source of their issues is outside of school. This group has the lowest membership. Informal dropout. These students continue to attend school but have dropped out of learning anything academic. These st udents are low academic performers who are out of sync with the rigors of the acad emic curriculum. Because they consider the work as being hard they make little, if any, academic progress. These students dont experience su ccess and rarely achieve their academic potential. Even with these factors, they somehow manage to continue in spite of prior performance and failures. Some of thes e students have a higher tolerance for coping with failure experience. They seem to be more durable, self-centered and skilled at making or hiding their real fee ling toward the failure barriers. Some of these students have skills that get them through such as athletic ability. Some cheat their way through the barriers. 39

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Survivors These students have adequate academic ability and they can do well academically because of their abilities. They drop out because of problems unrelated to school. Weis, et al. (1989) cite George Morrows dropout typology that includes: (a) the push-out (those students who ar e deemed to be undesirable) ; (b) the disaffected (those students who do not want to remain in the school setting); (c) educati onal mortality (those who fail within the school setting); (d) capab le dropouts (these students are socialized in such a way that they do not agree with the school demands); (e) the stop-out (those students who dropout and retu rned to school with in the same year) (p. x). Barnes (1992) defines a dropout as being someone who interrupted his or her high school education at some point; individuals who return to school and obtained a high school diploma and those w ho obtained a GED (p. 1). Schargel (2004) distinguishes three ty pes of dropouts as: (a ) the Dropouts who are leaving or have left school on their own; (b ) the Tune-outs who stay in school but their actions show that they are disengaged from learning; and (c) the Push-outs who have been suspended or expelled. In an effort to provide a complete prof ile regarding dropouts, the National Center for Education Statistics defines and provi des data for the follo wing three types of dropouts: (a) event dropout; (b) status dropout; and (c) cohort dropout. The event dropout is defined as the student who leaves school each year without completing a high school program. The status dropout is th e young adult between the ages of 16 and 24 40

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years old who is out of school and who has not earned high school credentials. The cohort gives an estimate of how many student s eventually fail to complete high school (Schargel, 2004, p. 30-32). The state of Florida defines the dropout in Chapter 1003.01 (9) of the Florida School Laws (2006). The definition of a dr opout is addressed in the following manner: Dropout means a student who meets any on e or more of the following criteria: (a) The student has voluntarily removed himself or herself from the school system before graduation for reasons that include, but are not limited to, marriage, or the student has withdrawn from school because he or she has failed the statewide student assessment test and thereby does not receive any of the certificates of completion; (b) The student has not yet met the relevant a ttendance requirements of the school district pursuant to the State Board of Education rul es, or the student was expected to attend a school but did not enter as expected for unknown reasons, or the students whereabouts are unknown; (c) The student has withdrawn from school, but has not transferred to another public or private school or enrolled in any career, adult, home e ducation, or alternative educational program; (d) The student has withdrawn from school due to hardships, unless such withdrawal has been granted under the provision of s.322.091, cour t action, expulsion, medical reasons, or pregnancy; or (e) The student is not eligible to attend school because of reaching the maximum age for an exceptional student program in accordance with the district's policy (Florida School Laws, 2006, p.135). In section 1003.21(c), Florida law is specifi c regarding when a student can legally leave school and not be considered a dropout. This section states: A student who attains the age of 16 years during the school year is not subject to compulsory school attendance beyond the date upon which he or she attains the age if the student files a formal declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment with the district school Board. Public school students who have attained to the age of 16 years and who have not graduated are subject to compulsory school attendance until formal declaration of intent is filed with the district school board. The declaration must ac knowledge that terminating school enrollment is likely to reduce the students learning potential and must be signed by the student and the student's parents. The school district must notif y the students parents of receipt of the student declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment. The students guidance counselor or other school personnel must conduct an exit interview w ith the student to determine the reasons for the student's decision to terminate school enrollment and actions that could be taken to keep the student in school. The student must be informed of opportunities to continue his or her 41

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education in a different environment, including, but not limited to, adult education, and GED test preparation. Additionally, the student must complete a survey in a format described by the Department of Education to provide data on student reasons for terminating enrollment and actions taken by schools to keep students enrolled (Florida School Laws, 2006, pp. 141-142). Why Students Drop out of School Dropping out of school is a complex pr ocess that no single explanation can adequately account for the tota lity of the phenomena or the ex tent that it reaches into the fabric of American society. When student s voluntarily leave hi gh school it is doubtful that they realize the long-term affect this action will have on them, their family, society, and their futures. The repercussions from l eaving school are felt long after the decision is made and the student actually leaves. Th e decision to leave school is not made spontaneously and when students finally arrive at the point where they leave school they are ending a slow process of disengagement that accumulated over a period of time (Bridgeland, DiIulio, & Wulsin, 2008; Chri stle, Jolivette, & Ne lson, 2007; Gallagher, 2002; Goldschmidt & Wang, 1999; Lee & Burk am, 2003; Smyth & Haltam, 2001; Wolk, 2009). The beginning of the cumulative proce ss begins long before high school. It may start as early as the first grade (Lee & Burkam, 2003) or it may began by the 4th or 5th grades at the onset of content heavy course s where students must be able to comprehend what they read (Wolk, 2009). For those st udents who fail early and often, dropping out is almost certain. Many students have decided by the eight grade to leave school but they just mark time until they finally leave (W olk, 2009); however, most students dropout of school between the 10th and 12th grades in high school (Lee & Burkam, 2003). 42

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The literature documents vari ables that are be lieved responsible for children leaving school. Some are student/family cen tered while others point to structural components in schools as being responsible for students leaving school. These cover a wide range that include: academic failure, disc ipline problems, conflict with teachers or students, being pushed out, employment opportun ities, family responsib ilities (Stearns & Glennie, 2006); cultural conflicts between schools and family, racist teachers and administrators, lack of motivation, not bei ng committed or valuing education (Patterson, Hale, & Stressman, 2007); a lack of connection to the schoo l environment, a perception that school is boring, feeling unmotivated, overwhelmed by the academic challenges, missed too many classes, spent time with people were not interested in school, had too much freedom and not enough rules in their lives, and the impact of weight of real world events (Bridgeland, DiIulio, & Wulsin, 2008, p 4 ); the number of school suspensions and retentions, parental involvement, race a nd ethnicity, teacher ce rtification, student enrollment in a school, percentage of white students in the school, school type, and urbanicity (Carpenter & Ramirez, 2007); and being poor, minority, low income families status, single parent, less educated fam ilies (Children's Defense Fund 2005). Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson (2007), f ound that the achievement test scores, rate of grade retention, school attendance, o ccurrence of maladapted or un desirable student behaviors, school suspensions, poverty, and ethnic back ground impacted students dropping out of school. 43

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The risk factors for students dropping out of school fall into th ree categories: (a) social background (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, so cioeconomic status, family structure, in inner-city residence); (b) academic background (e.g., students abilities, test scores, school retention history); a nd (c) academic related behaviors (e.g., student engagement with school and school related activities, school grades, course completions and failures, truancy, school disciplines and expulsions). They point to cert ain characteristics of schools that play a role in de termining whether or not students stay in or dropout. They identify these as: (a) school structures, sc hool size and sector (i f the school is public, Catholic, private school or charter school); academic organization; and (c) their social organization (kind of relationships between st udents, teachers, and administrators) (Lee & Burkam, 2003, p. 354-355). Wolk (2009) states the reasons most st udents give for leaving school are: (a) boredom; (b) personal or family problems; (c ) inability to understand and do the work required; and (d) a waste of time. He believ es that learning and mo tivation are keys to students graduating as many of these students can perform academically but they are not connected in any meaningful ways to school (p. 30). Students enter high schools during their adolescent years where they are still trying to make sense of who they are and the world around them. The transition to high school can be one more problematic area for stud ents to attempt to fi gure out. In fact, for many students, entering high school is a cultura l shock as they try to adjust to this unfamiliar environment with its very different rituals and requirements. Not all students 44

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are successful making the adjustment and b ecome at risk of dropping out. Signs of adjustments issues can be recognized early. These are the students who do not develop meaningful relationships with adults or peers at school; th ey are not involved in school sponsored activities; they do not develop a sens e of belonging to the culture of the high school; or they can lose their sense of identity and motivation if they are enrolled in culturally diverse schools where they are unabl e to fit into the culture of the school. Students may also feel overwhelmed by th e perceived unfriendliness of this new environment and want to remove themselves to what is more familiar. Many students view school as a hostile unwelcoming sett ing when their unique needs are not met by teachers and school-based leaders. Those that experience isolation think that if they left school they would not be missed. Other stude nts believe that they are encouraged to leave and are subtly pushed out of school by school-based lead ers (Gallagher, 2002). Orfield, Losen, Wald & Swanson (2004), found that poverty, the level of racial segregation in a school, and the proportion of non-white st udents in the school were predictors of student failure. They noted that the growing racial re segregation of schools contributed to low graduation rates and becau se segregated minority schools are located in minority communities, nine out of ten inte nsely segregated minority schools also have concentrated poverty. Other factors that contri bute to student failure within these schools are: (a) low levels of peer academic comp etition; (b) few experienced or qualified teachers; (c) limited advanced course selectio ns; (d) greater number of student turnover during the school year; and (e) higher con centration of student s with health and 45

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emotional problems that are a result of poverty and their living in poverty conditions (Orfield, Losen, Wald & Swanson, 2004). Clark (2004) found that students who dr opped out of school: (1) felt alienated from schools; (2) believed that educators in school systems did not care about them; (3) believed that they had no adult in the school system they could turn to for help; (4) many did not participate in extracurricular activitie s; and (5) their weak bond toward school gave them a weak sense of belonging. She f ound that because educators made little effort to mainstream students who were alienated, st udents felt justified when they left the negative situation crea ted the educators. Some researchers noted that American male students dropping out of school fall into five categories: (a) behavioral; (b) so ciological; (c) political; (d) cultural; and (e) socioeconomic. Behavioral Explanations During the 1960s, dropping out was linke d to behavior and the dropouts were thought of as deviants because they displayed what was considered as deviant behavior. Many educators held this position believing that because they had success with a majority of the students they must be effective. These educators placed the blame for dropping out on the dropout who was seen as being dysfunc tional and having defic its as a result of personal, family or community related issues (Wehlege, 1989). The Development Transition Model, notes Jimerson, Anderson, & Whipple (2002), sees behavior as th e product of the students developmental history and the 46

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current circumstance. The students pres ent behavior can be explained through an understanding of: (a) the students early deve lopmental history; (b) the nature of the students experiences within the classroom; and (c) contemporaneous experiences outside a formal educational setting. The students rely on the experiences gained in each of these areas to interpret and res pond in future situations (Jimerson, Anderson, & Whipple, 2002). What is important here is that if th e students learn negative behavioral responses in early grades then these behavioral pa tterns can follow them throughout the academic careers or until they leave or are removed from school. Students who display disruptive behavior and discipline problems in school are more likely to drop out. The behavior of these students places them in an at risk category where their dropping out is seen as being caused by a f unction of their own behavior and bad decision making. These stude nts have histories of absenteeism, grade retention and are generally disengaged from school life. Young students in early grades may be considered at risk if they displa y such school behaviors as low grades, low educational expectations, suspen sions, early grade retentions and discipline problems. A special education placement in combination with the above behaviors also qualifies the student for the at risk category (Christl e, Jolivette, & Nels on, 2007; Goldschmidt & Wang, 1999). Behavioral explanation places th e responsibility for dropping out of school squarely on the student as a result of his own actions or behaviors. 47

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Theories that blame the victim avoid rec ognizing possible systemic causes of their dropping out. This is a safe position for the caretakers of the system because by blaming the victim, the system assumes no respons ibility or accountability for the dropout. Sociological Explanations Sociological explanations give the family (parents, family structure, family relations and financial status) and the students environment major roles of responsibility for his dropping out of school. The student is seen as a pr oduct of his environment. Students coming from families with poor relation s; a lack of parental involvement in his life; and being raised in a si ngle parent home are likely to drop out of school. Leaving school before completion has an impact on th e societal status of the student because school is seen as a way of achieving societal mobility. Students who drop out of school lack social supports and are unc onnected to valuable resources that could assist them to meet in their life goals. Often their connections with teachers, friends and positive peers are severed when they leave school because they are no longer able to benefit from relationships with those who can provide stability in thei r lives (Goldschmidt & Wang, 1999; Lee & Burkam, 2003). Dropouts also dropout other ways. An individuals education achievement influen ces their level of civic invol vement; high school graduates are twice as likely to vote as those with an eighth grade education or less (Wolk, 2009, p. 20). 48

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Political Explanations Districts are pressured to raise standardi zed test scores and keep dropout rates low but there is little emphasis for districts to ensure that studen ts graduate (Danielson, 2002). Although congress made graduation rate accountability a part of the No Child Left Behind legislation (NCLB), schools and distri cts are not being held accountable for the high dropout rates. NCLB has a testing ac countability provisions that is treated somewhat different from the acc ountability for gra duation rates. States are required to meet testing accountability targets and sanctions are spelled out for failing to meet the targets. As a result, states are moving to ward meeting the accountability targets. The same is not true for the graduation rate re quirements; because ther e are no sanctions or accountability, graduation rates continued to decline especially for American male students of African descent (UCLA, 2005). While some school districts and states use methods that inflate the numbers, others use different methods that are designed to depr ess the figures. There are advantages to both of these practices. Dist ricts may report high dr opout rates to obtain state or federal grants to help them addre ss the problem. Others may under-report their dropout figures as they dont wa nt the numbers to reflect on their competency, they dont want to look bad. They want to give th e impression that they have a model system (Kranick & Hargis, 1998). The method for calculating dropout rate s can have meaning for schools and school districts and a school can go to a large extent to hide its low figures. Schoenlein 49

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(2004) notes that school offici als in Chicago hold the record for fudging its dropout rate by claiming a dropout rate of 1.9 percent when it was actually 58 percen t. This seems to confirm that, at least in some instances, school-based leaders are unwilling to take ownership of the problem. They appear wil ling to cover up the extent of the problem instead of working toward finding solutions. Supposedly, George W. Bush, according to Walden & Kritsonis (2008), elevated education reform to the top of his dom estic priority during his 2000 presidential campaign when he appointed Rod Paige as secretary of education. In doing so, he referenced the alleged Texas Miracle that Paige had been credited with performing on the Houston Independent School District. The Texas Miracle claimed that Paige had reduced the high stakes test score gap between white and nonwhite st udents in the 1990s. An audit revealed that thous ands of students were not counted as dropouts who should have been counted. Students who should have been counted as dropouts were misplaced and other categories such as m oved or transferred. The result s of the audit revealed that instead of a 1.5 percent dropout rate, The Houston Independent School District was closer to 40 percent (p. 3). Cultural Explanations American male students of African descen t often have difficulty relating to school because the structure and culture of public schools tend to reflect White middle-class values and assumptions. These values and assumptions may not be aligned with American male students of African descent and their families. If the schools culture 50

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does not accept or respect that of the fam ily or student then the dropout rates will not change. Students are expected to conform to the school's requirement rather than the school being responsive to the needs of the st udents. Researchers have found that faculty often voiced one value but in practice, their actions were inconsistent with the value they stated. There is a relationship between school culture and student performance. It has been shown that the more collaborative and co llegial the school's culture the better the student performance, thus resulting in students who are more likely to stay in school (Patterson, Hale, & Stressman, 2007, p. 12). The Impact of Schools on Students Dropping Out Although some researchers focus on factors that point to the students as being responsible for their dropping out of school Lee and Burkam (2003) believe there are other explanations that focus on the schools that the children attend. They conclude that school structures, academic organization, and professional educators have responsibility for American male students of African de scent dropping out of school (Lee & Burkam, 2003). Kronick and Hargis (1998) posits that the student drop out should be viewed as a curriculum casualty rather than a form of se lf suicide or an in dividual casualty. By placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the school system, they argue that the responsibility and accountability of student failure rest with educators. They blame the structure of the curriculum on the childs failure. The implication is that if the curriculum 51

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is adjusted to fit the child then the child would be successf ul. What is not so obvious is that in order to make the necessary correc tions to the curriculum school-based leaders must be able to, not only recognize what is wrong, they must know what corrections are needed and they must be willing and skilled enough to make the necessary corrections (Kronis and Hargis, 1998). Danielson (2002) asserts that to ensu re success in reducing dropout rates, educators and school-based leaders must cha nge their attitudes toward American male students of African descent. She believes that educators beliefs in fluence their behavior toward these students. If educators believe that American male students of African descent are incapable of perfor ming at higher academic levels a nd they accept this belief as fact they will not make an effort towa rd providing a quality educational experience that will surely make a difference in the lives of those American male students of African descent they have the res ponsibility of educating. Patchen (2004) believes that positive rele vant classroom experiences are critical to a student's motivation and learning. He notes that the following factors have an impact on student success: (1) the educators motiva tion and skills; (2) the school's curriculum along with other aspects of the academic progr am; (3) the schools c limate; and (4) the various pressures exerted on the school fr om outside of the school. According to Patchen, schools are learning laboratories where students learn academically, socially, personally and morally on a continuous ba sis and given those dynamics students who attend those types of schools are ripe for learning. He further suggests, that when 52

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teachers and school-based leaders provide wa rm caring environments for students, the students should respond accordingly. Gordon, Gordon and Nembhard (1994) note th at discriminatory practices, within our nation's schools, target American male st udents of African descen t and the result is a negative impact upon their academ ic performances. These researchers cited studies that concluded that some teachers in the U.S. have few expectations of American male students of African descent in general and ev en lower expectations of those who are nonsubmissive and independent. The studies rev ealed that academic practices such as lower academic tracking and assignment of American male students of African descent to special education classes are pejorative and di scriminatory. According to the researchers, the implementation of school disciplinary polic ies demonstrates the disproportionate and negative impact these policies have had on these students op portunities to learn. They note that in response to these factors many Am erican male students of African descent: (1) develop negative attitudes toward their educational e xperiences; (2) experiences higher levels of conflict in school; (3) exhibits anti-authoritarian behavior; and (4) expresses attitudes which negatively affect their academic achievement. While these students may have a lower level of academic self-concept, these same students may not have a lower self-concept in other areas of their lives (Gordon, et. al, 1994). For these students, it appears that alt hough the school experience lowers their self concept, there are other areas of their lives that balance the negative school experiences. 53

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Dorn (1996) states that the dropout probl em as a byproduct of the dysfunction of school systems and extent of drop out problem is the result of timid public officials and school administrators not being wi lling to address the issue. He states that the real reason for the crisis lies with dysfunctional central bureaucracies, principa ls lifetime tenure and incompetence at all levels of the system. Dorn believes that education is the right of all citizens and the dropout rate is evidence that schools are fa iling to guarantee that certain students rights are protected (Dorn, 1996). Evidence suggests that school -based practices are res ponsible for the high dropout rate. In each of these practices, it appear s that the individual e ducation needs of the students are secondary to the sc hools issues. These practices s eem to elevate the system's needs above those of the students. Being tr eated impersonally and unfairly can leave a lasting impact on the impre ssionable minds of American male students of African descent. Many can easily see through the games played on them and their manner of reaction, while threateni ng to the system, offers them some degree of protection to their self concepts. Teachers and school-based administrators mu st be sensitive to the emotional and development needs of their American male st udents of African descent. White teachers must be aware of the potential impact that a negative presence can have on the psyche of American male students of African descen t (Ladson-Billings, 2000). They should be cognizant of the potential harm that it can have especially to those young Black male students in the early grades and make all possible efforts to create environments that are 54

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conducive to their learning. If teachers wo rk to provide the positive experiences for American male students of African descent as they began their school careers, these students will stay in schools longer. From my review of the lite rature relating to dropouts I found that the plethora of definitions of dropouts and the different met hods of calculating graduation rates did not produce a standard definition for either. The various definitions of the dropout involve many variables and consideration associated with the dropout and dr opping out of school. For this research I define dropout as a child under the age of 17 w ho no longer attends his school of record and as a result, he has b een removed from the schools roll and is no longer counted as an active student. Critical Race Theory Critical Race Theory (CRT) emerged in the mid 1970s with the work of Derrick Bell, Alan Freeman and Richard Delgado, le gal scholars who were concerned with the slow pace of racial reform on the nationa l scene in the U.S. (Decuir & Dixon 2004; Ladson-Billings 2000; Mutua 2006). Although De rrick Bell is considered the godfather of CRT, Kimberly Crenshaw is credited with coining the actual phrase Critical Race Theory in the late 1980s (Mutua, 2006). Critical Race Theory is an analysis, intervention and critique of traditional civil rights theory and Critical Legal Studies (CLS). The premise is that race and racism are integral to the American normal order and is the foundation of American institutional and community life (Mutua, 2006). 55

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CRT differs from CLS in that it has an activist aspect and the end goal is to bring change that would lead to social justice. The tenets of CRT are counter storytelling, permanency of racism, whiteness as property interest convergence and the critique of liberalism. Counter storytelling is a method of storytelling that cha llenges the validity of the accepted premises or myths held by the majority culture that perpetuate the status quo. It exposes and critiques normalized dialogue that perpetuates racial stereotypes. By challenging the discourse of the privileged ma jority, counter-storytelling gives voice to the marginalized group by including their personal stories/ narratives, other people's stories/narratives, and composite st ory narratives (DeCuir & Dixson, 2004). The permanency of racism tenet views r acism as a natural part of American society whether at a conscious or unconscious level. The raci st hierarchical structure, according to CRT, governs the political, econom ic and social domains of society. Critical race theorists believe that the histor y of race and racism in U.S. jurisprudence ratified the notion of Whiteness as property. Regarding interests convergence, civil rights were granted Blacks only in as much as they converge with the self interests of Whites and as long as they were not a major disr uption to normal white life. Regarding the critique of liberalism, CRT is critical of three basic notions em braced by liberal legal ideology. They are: (1) the notion of color b lindness; (2) neutrality of the law; and (3) incremental change (DeCuir & Dixson, 2004). Since Ladson-Billings and Tate intr oduced CRT to education in 1995 it has emerged as a powerful theoretical and analytic al framework within educational research 56

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(DeCuir & Dixson, 2004). Critic al race scholars are aware th at schools have both the potential to oppress and marginalize stude nts on the one hand, and to empower and emancipate them on the other. CRT is an accepted tool that assists educators to understand how race and racism impact upon ed ucational practices. CRT is a framework for examining how race and racism impact st ructures, processes and discourse within the context of teacher education while seeking to transform so ciety by identifying, analyzing and eliminating subtle and overt forms of racism in education (Smith, Yosso & Solrzano, 2007). CRT, in education, has five themes that form the basic perspectives, research methods and pedagogy. In the first theme, the centrality and intersectionality of race and racism recognizes that racism has played a central role in th e structuring of schools and the practices that go on within schools. Four dimensions are recognized within this theme: (1) micro and macro components; (2 ) institutional and individual forms; (3) conscious and unconscious elements; and (4) an accumulative impact on both the individual and the group. In the second theme, the challenge to dominant ideology certain assumptions are made that are the mainstay of the dominan t social and cultural thinking. The school system is challenged as part of the critique of societal inequity. The argument is offered that the traditional claims of objectivity a nd meritocracy are but camouflages of the self interests, power and priv ilege of dominant groups in the U.S. society. 57

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The third theme, the commitment to social justice espouses a social justice research agenda that leads to the elimin ation of racism, sexism and poverty while empowering under represented minority groups. In the theme, centrality of experiential knowledge because the lived experiences of students of color are generally marginali zed, if not completely eliminated from the educational discourse, CRT recognizes that th e experiential k nowledge of people of color is legitimate, appropriate and critical to understanding, analyzing, practicing and teaching about racial subordination. Lastly, in the interdiscip linary perspective, CRT is adamant about using an historical and contemporary context in analyz ing race and racism using interdisciplinary methods (Solrzano, Daniel & Yosso, 2001). Critical Race Theory scholars provide in sight for explaining, not only, how race can be a factor effecting the dropout rate of American males of African descent, but also, how and why these students are treated as they are in U.S. schools. CRT theorists posit that race makes a difference in this society and depending upon which side of the isle one sits, the journey can be difficult or smooth. According to the theory, it advocates that because racism is a permanent fixture in U.S. society and that whiteness is property right, there are implications for American males of African descent at all levels of society. Given the ordinariness of racism whites negatively impact these American citizens even though they may not consciously be aware of their racist behavior. 58

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Critical Race Theorists believe that action is essential to initiate improvements and because it is action oriented, it strongly sugge sts that some type of action is critical if changes are to be made that improve the quality of education provided to American students of African descent (Edwards & Schm idt, 2003). The specific actions needed to address the educational needs of these stude nts rest with the l eaders of our nations schools. Reyes and Capper point out that the manner that the school-based leader defines a problem determines if and how the problem will be addressed (Reyes & Capper, 1991). This is important in the sense that the school based leaders are the key to providing solutions to the problem of children dropping out of school. Scholars have recognized the need for re search that highlights social justice issues. Social justice has different meanings for different groups. Educational leaders, who support a social justice position, would advocate for children who experienced discrimination and social inequalities by being sensitive to and caring about their diverse needs (Gerstl-Pepin, Killeen, & Hasazi, 2006). The concept of Social justice espouses a social justice research agenda that leads to addressing and eliminating marginalizing underrepresented groups in schools. Theoharis (2008) uses an excellent metaphor of a silkscreen t-shirt and a t-shir t made of purple dyed thread when explaining the difference between a social justice leader and a highly regarded leader. He notes that just as dyed thread is woven to become the shirt, of social justice is w oven so deeply that it becomes the very fabric that makes up the social jus tice leader; there is no separation between the leader and the commitment to social justice. On the other hand, in the case of the silk59

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screened shirt it is possible to print pattern on the shirt but the fabric of the shirt remains unchanged. As with the silk-screen leaders, ce rtain reforms can be enacted, just as it is possible to silkscreen a design on a shirt; but th e difference is the to screen will always be on top of the shirt and never part of the fabric It can be scratched off or worn off and it never becomes a permanent part of the shirt. He notes that because social justice is ingrained within the fabric of the social justice leaders bein g, the world is seen through a social justice perspective. Social justice leadership is described as being a calling and not a position that one applies for. The passi on and commitment that makes up the social justice leaders greatest gifts also make thei r work significantly more difficult. (Theoharis, 2008, pg. 22). Chapter summary The literature follows the e volution of the term dropout from being seen as a social construction to being designated as a label for children who leave school for a variety of reasons. As a social construct, th e term connoted the schools responsibility for the socialization of the school aged child until graduation. When the child dropped out the school was seen as failing to meet its pr imary responsibility for educating all children. The term further evolved as the dropout rate s of American children of African descent increased during the period of fo rced desegregation in schools. Some of these childrens behaviors were seen as problematic in th e school systems who believed their removal from schools would make schools a safer place. Also, states passed legislation that raised academic requirements that made it more diffi cult for marginal students to graduate 60

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(Rumberger, 1987). The oneness of their dropping out became the providence for those who dropped out instead of the school syst em responsible for their education. Dropping out of school is a complex propos ition that is compounded by the lack of a standard definition of exactly what is a dropout. The literature review provides a myriad of definitions. Rumberger (1983) not es that factors that influence dropping out are themselves influenced by other factors. For instance, while neighborhood may be seen as a factor that impact dropout, a childs neighborhood may be influenced by the parents education, income, etc. While there is no single explanation for why children drop out of school, the literature points to behavioral, sociological, political and cultural ex planations that may account for reasons why children drop out of school. Despite the various definitions of social justice, a cri tical component is addressing and eliminating marginalization of students of color in the school setting. The social justice leader is a passionate visionary who leads through a sense of commitment. 61

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Chapter Three Methodology Introduction Chapter three describes the method used to collect and analyze the research data related to the school-bas ed leaders perceptions of high school dropouts. Next I give the rationale for my selecting th e research method and discuss my role as researcher. Afterward I discuss the case study method and related assumptions followed by the strengths and limitations of th e case study method. Next, I o ffer the data collection and data analysis procedures and end with a chapter summary. Purpose of the study This study described the perspectives of eight school-based leaders regarding American male students of African descent; why they drop out of high school; and the role these school-based leaders play in prev enting these students from dropping out of high school. Research Questions The questions that guided this research were: 1. What are school-based leaders perceptions of American male students of African descent and why they dr op out of high school? 62

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2. Are the school-based leaders aware of th e dropout rate of American male students of African descent? What efforts are being made to address these students dropping out of high school? 3. What role has school base leaders played in preventing American male students of African descent from dropping out of school? 4. What is needed to keep American male st udents of African des cent in school until graduation? Qualitative Research Qualitative researchers believe that individuals construct their reality as they interact with their so cial worlds. These researchers are interested in understanding the meaning people have constructed; how they make sense of their worlds; and the corresponding experiences they have (Merri am, 1998). According to Creswell (2007), a qualitative research method is considered when: (a) a problem or issue needs to be explored; (b) a complex, detailed understanding of an issue is desired; (c) the researchers goal is to empower the study participants by their sharing their stories, presenting information in their voices, and minimizing any power that may exist in the relationshi p between the researcher and the study participants; (d) the researcher elects to write in a flexible, literary lead style that is not limited by restrictions of formal academic structures of writing; (e) the problem or issue is studied in the same context or setting in which it is addressed by the study participants; (f) the researcher wishes to develop theories because existing theories are partial or do not adequately address the complexity of the issue being examined; and (g) quantitative measures and statistical analysis do not adequately capture the nature of the problem (Creswell, 2007, pp.4041). The qualitative approach was appropriate for th is study because it was my intent to gain a detailed understanding of the eight school-based leaders perspectives of American male 63

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students of African descent and their dropping out of school. Examine the issue from the perspectives of school-based le aders will empower them and allow them to tell their story in their own voice. The study was conducted within the context of a school selected from a district in a southeastern state. The data for the rese arch was collected from interviews and my reflective journal notes and produ ced a rich, thick description of their perspectives that will be presented in a flexible written st yle (Creswell, 2007, Janesick, 2004; Merriam, 1998). Merriam (1998) notes several key ph ilosophical assumptions that guides qualitative research and the qualitati ve researcher. According to her: the researcher should have an interest in understanding the meaning people have constructed; the researcher is the primary instrument for data collect ion and analysis; field work is involved as th e researcher must go to a setting to investigate the phenomena; qualitative research employs an indu ctive research strategy that builds abstractions, concepts, hypothe sis or theories rather than testing existing theories. She stated that an intensive understanding is gained from fieldwork in qualitative research that the re searcher uses to bu ild toward a theory (Merriam, 1998, pp. 6-8) 64

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Methodology In this qualitativ e research, the perspectives of eight school-based leaders regarding American male students of African descent and their dropping out of school are examined using the case study methodology. The literature is clear that case study has several connotations. It can be viewed as a methodology, type of design, an object of study, a product of inquiry, an intensive holistic de scription, a process of analysis or product of analysis. It is also defined as an intensive, holis tic description a nd analysis of a bounded phenomenon, program, institution, pers on, process or social unit that permits the researcher to gain an understanding of the phenomenon of interest from the prospective of the participants. This is referred to as insiders perspective the emic (Merriam, 1998). By examining a phenomenon as it exists in its natu ral occurring setting (Mason, & Bramble 1997) the researcher is able to obtain a detailed, in-depth understanding of a phenomenon and the nature of its meaning for the studys participants. What distinguishes the case study approach is that the researchers interest lies in the process rather than outcomes; the context rather than any one specific viable; and, discovery rather than confirma tion. It is described in te rms of the overall intent, to describe, to interpret, to evaluate some phe nomena, or to build theory (Merriam, 1998). Acknowledging the complexity of the case study, Creswell (2007) describes it as a methodology, a type of design in qualitative research, or an object of study, as well as the product of the inquiry. As a qualitative approach, he notes that the researcher examines a bounded system (a case) or multiple bounded systems (cases) over time, 65

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through detailed, in-depth data collection i nvolving multiple sources of information (observations, interviews, audi ovisual material, documents a nd reports), and reports any case description and case-based themes (p. 73). According to Patton (2002) notes that case study can either be a process of analysis or the product of analysis and there are instances where a case study can be both. As an analysis process, it represents a sp ecified manner in which data are collected, organized, and analyzed. When data are colle cted in comprehensive, systematic, and indepth manners for each case of interest the analysis process results in a product that is referred to as the case study (Patton, 2002, p. 447). To those ends, I see case study methodology as being perfectly suited to for my research. Strengths of the Case Study method Using the case study method advances the field of study and the knowledge base of a particular area under study. The data co llected and the subsequent analysis using case study gives a thick and rich descripti on of the data. A deeper understanding of meaning is gained through the case study approach that can improve practice; influence and informs policy; and have an impact on future research (Merriam, 1998). Limitations of the Case Study method The premise of the case study method is that any unit of i nvestigation that involves people can only be understood through the perspectives of those involved in the investigation. This view ensures that the ve ry nature of the phenomenon that is being researched is quite unique and not open to generalization beyond the study participants 66

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(Pring, 2000). Because the researcher is the primary instrument for collecting and analyzing data, there are certain inherent ch allenges related to the researcher being human. Mistakes can be made at all levels of the research; the researcher can miss opportunities for a variety of reasons; and th e personal biases of the researcher may interfere with the research at the design, data collection, and an alysis phase of the research (Merriam, 1998). The case study method can also lead to oversimplifying or exaggerating the data thus leading to errors in analysis. The inte grity, skills and training of the researcher can bias the data collecti on and subsequent analysis. In a ddition, Also issues of reliability and validity impact the case study method (Merriam, 1998). Mason and Bramble (1998) describes two ways that resear cher bias can affect the case study. First, in selecting a case to study the researcher could possibly bi as the outcomes by using a case in which the findings can fairly be predicted. Second, bias can be introduced into a study if the researcher lacks the ability to accurately obser ve or record the data. The impact of this could carry over to data collec tion, analysis and interpretation. The open ended nature of the case study causes this pa rticular problem (Mason & Bramble, 1997). Another very obvious issue in case study re lates to the volume of data that are generated by the interviews, observations, field notes, journal entries and artifacts collected by the researcher (Creswell, 2007, Janesick, 2004). Janesick notes that in taping and transcribing interviews, a one hour intervie w produces 21 typed, single spaced pages. 67

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My Role as Researcher My interest in the issue of American male student of African descent dropping out of school developed as I worked toward my Masters Degree in Education. My increasing awareness of the disproportionate state a nd national dropout figures for this group of students was the catalyst. I was also concerne d with what appeared to be the lack of coordinated effort to address th e problem at the district, state, and federal levels. As my reading on the subject increase d, I discovered that individuals and groups in some states and districts across the nation were making efforts toward a ddressing the problem but not at the level that a crisis of this proportion dese rves. On the national s cene, at the state and district levels, it seems to me that the probl em is way out in front of the educational policy makers and school school-based leaders as the dropout rate fo r American males of African descent continues to increase y early (Orfield, 2004; Dorn, 1996). School systems and school-based leaders were not aggressively working toward solving a problem that was devastating a segment of students at a disproportionate rate. My selecting this topic for my research project was a natural progression for me. I had found a timely, relevant problem that sparked my curiosity and I knew it would sustain my interest. I believed that an exam ination of the dropout rate of American males of African descent would add timely, relevant knowledge to the field of student dropout and dropout prevention. My init ial curiosity regarding the hi gh dropout rate of American male students of African descent, gave way to a genuine concern ove r the high rates that these students were dropping out of schools across the country. 68

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In my thinking about the problem several questions came to mind. I wanted to know if school-based leaders r ecognized this and were awar e of the rate these students and were dropping out of schools? Did the sc hool-based leaders believe they should be held accountable or responsible for these st udents and their dropping out of school? To what extent is their dropping out influenced by school based leaders? Are there programs in place, at schools, to prevent American male students from dropping out of school? These were some of the questions that infl uenced my decision to conduct a research project to explore. I believed that explori ng this important issue will provide valuable information and add knowledge to the fiel d regarding, dropouts, dropout prevention and school-based leaders perspectives of these students dropping out of school. As my focus on this problem narrowed, I felt obligated to explore the issue to gain a deeper understanding of the causes and factors that fueled the data. I spent time self reflecting and thinking about the many young Am erican males of African descent I had worked with through the years in various capacities in communities, institutions, probation, parole, and at the alternative school wi thin the Level 8 juven ile facility where I was the assistant principal for seven years. My thoughts were also of some of the young men I had personally known who had dropped out of school early in my youth. I knew that many of these boys had dropped out for reas ons not related to their lack of academic ability or their academic potential. There were other reasons that prevailed upon them to leave or forced them to leave some. Some of them were bored with school; some had behavioral problems that made their academic road difficult; some left because they had 69

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to face criminal sanctions; others found jobs and to them earning money to support themselves or their families became paramount; and there were those who did make the connection between obtaining a high school edu cation and its potential value to them to play an important role in their futures. One relevant factor then but not now is that jobs were plentiful and a dropout could earn e nough money to support himself and his family. School Information For this study, the cases were the perspect ives of eight school-based leaders in an urban high school located in a southeastern me tropolitan statistical area (SMA) of over a million people. In terms of overall populat ion, whites comprise seventy-eight percent; Americans of African descen t 17 percent; and Hispanics twenty three percent. The selected high school is located in a city in a southeastern state whose overall graduation rate for American students of African wa s about 57 percent for the 2005-2006 school year. The high school has a population of n early two thousand students. In the 20072008 school year, American students of Afri can descent made up nearly thirty-four percent of the population and American male students of African descent was the largest single group in the school. For the 20062007 school year, the gra duation rate for all students was close to seventy-se ven percent. In that same year, the graduation rate for American students of African descent was sixt y-four percent; a five percent increase over the previous year (No Child Left Behind School Public Accountability Reports). Despite the years where the dropout rate remained constant, it dropped one year and then increased slightly the next, the school districts overall dropout rate has declined 70

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over the past ten years. While the districts dropout rate for Ameri can students of African descent dropped 1.3 percentage points over the 2005-2006 and the 2006-2006 school years, the schools dropout ra te for that same group remained the same (less than one percent) (No Child Left Behind School Pub lic Accountability Reports). The school has not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the last four years and its grade dropped two points from the 2007-2008 to the 2008-2009 school years. In the past the school received recognition for excelle nce of is academic programs. Participant Selection Prior to beginning the study, I had to obt ain approval from the Universitys Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the sc hool district where th e school was located. As a strict condition for the districts approval of the research all of the participants had to volunteer to participate in the research. I met with th e principal and discussed the research and the districts requirements. I provided him with a wr itten summary of the research and the research questi ons that he presented at a faculty meeting. As a result of the appeal to the faculty for volunteers, nine school-based leaders originally volunteered to participate in this research, but one wit hdrew. The participants included members of the administrative team and guidance counselor s. All of the voluntee r participants were experienced educators who had worked in the school system twelve years or more. Several had thirty or more years of experience. All had serv ed in various capacities from teachers to administrators at other sc hools prior to their present assignment. 71

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Data Collection The relevance of the design and construction of the research question is critical to the research as they are the scaffolding for the investigation and the cornerstone for the analysis of the data. It is through the rese arch questions that the researcher finds out exactly what he/she wants to know (Anf ara, Brown, & Mangione, 2003, pg.31). Further, the researcher is cautioned to take care in developing research questions as these questions not only drive the research, they determine th e type of instrument the researcher uses, the data analysis techniques, and ultimately, the success or failure of the research (Onwuegbuzie & Leech, 2006). At the planning stage of the research, I decided to collect data to address the research questions via interviews with the par ticipants. The type of interview is important in that it can simplify data collection and th e subsequent data an alysis. Instead of conducting open ended interviews where the pa rticipants would have a free flowing discussion of their thoughts and perspectives I maintained a tighter focus where the participants responses were e licited using a fixed interview protocol that was posed to each of the participants. Using this method, I collected data, from th e eight participants that captured their perspectives of American male students of Afri can descent and their dropping out of school (Patton, 2002). The interv iew protocol I used to collect the data for this research data was developed with input from the research committee. 72

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The questions that guided this research were: 1. What are school-based leaders perceptions of American male students of African descent and why they dr op out of high school? 2. Are the school-based leaders aware of the dropout rate of American male students of African descent? What efforts are being made to address these students dropping out of high school? 3. What role has school base leaders played in preventing American male students of African descent from dropping out of school? 4. What is needed to keep American male st udents of African des cent in school until graduation? When I began the interviews, I intended to: (1) maintain an open minded stance that would not interfere with the flow of information from the participants during the interview; (2) be cognizant of my biases and try not to allow them to influence the participants responses; and (3) not interject my prior knowledge, thoughts, and feelings during the interviews in such a manner that would cause any of the participants to change, hesitate to answer, or reconsider any of their responses. I attempted to establish a positive rapport with each of the participants that permitted an open and relaxed atmosphere during the interview, by consta ntly reminding myself not to lead the participants responses in any direction becau se the quality of data collected depended on accurately capturing their thoughts through th e words recorded and later transcribed 73

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(Janesick, 2004). This train of thought was revealed in my August 18, 2009, reflective journal entry: August 18, 2009 .. At this time, I am aware of several things: number one the number of articles I have continued to increase. I made a decision to stop accumulating articles as of last Friday. Unless it is of tremendous importance, I am finished collecting articles. Number two, my research is important and it' s ahead of the curve I am way ahead of the curve. Number three: as I look around at soci ety I feel strongly that there is a connection between American male student of African descent dropping out of school and the majority is thinking and feelings about them. This is my gut feeling. I am aware of this and I will pause, think about it, and write about it openly as to recognize my bias and limits and is it may impact on my analysis. My plan for next month (September) is to get approval all of the IRB, meet with the principal of the proposed school and began collecting data. Dr. B. asked if I wanted him to attend the initial meeting with the principal to introduce the study. I agreed. As I think about the upcoming meeting with the principal mind purpose of the meeting will be: to create an atmosphere of trust with the principal and the school-based leaders; determine who I will interview for this study. This will be decided when I meet with the school's principal; create a schedule of the interviews with the school-based leaders; slow down, don't rush the information, probe but give the participant the chance to adequately answered the question; be sure to clarify as much as I can before ending the interview; if I don't understand the participants answer s, let them clarify and don't put words in their mouths; write my journal thoughts directly after the interviews although I'll take notes during the interviews. I am anxious but a serious anxiousness. I sent an e-mail to the committee informing them of the acceptance of my research proposal by the district. One of the concerns I have now is if the school-based leaders will volunteer to participate in the research Qualitative research seeks to capture th e richness of an experience using the words of the participant as th e database is the direct quot ations from the participant regarding their experiences, opinions, feelings and knowledge (Labuschagne, 2003). Data collected in case study research are extensive and are collected from a variety of sources. Data for this research was collected from interviews with the eight school-based 74

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leaders and from the research reflective journa l I maintained. The journal entries are part of the data that was analyzed for the researc h. The journal entries are written narratives of my personal reflections, observations, thoughts, impressions, feelings, and hunches regarding the interview, participants and any other issues that was observed before, during and after the interview. Janesick (1999) sees journal writing as a way to reflect by digging deeper into the beliefs and behaviors that are described in the journals. Journaling is also seen as a means of triangul ating data and pursuing interpretations and a type of member check of the individuals thinking that is done on paper (p. 513). She notes that journaling within qualitative research can achieve the following: (a) refine the understanding of the role of the researcher through reflection and writing, much like an artist might do; (b) refine the understanding of the response s of participants in the study, much like those of the physician or health-care worker; (c) use a journal as an interactive tool of communication between the researcher and participants in the study, as a type of interdisciplinar y triangulation of data; and (d) view journal writing as a type of connoisseurship by which individuals become connoisseurs of their own thinking and refl ection patterns, and indeed their own understanding of their work as qualitative researchers (p. 506). The reflective research journal can be a valu able tool to the qualitative researcher by: (a) providing a focus to the study; (b ) setting the groundwork for analysis and interpretation; (c) serving as a tool for revi siting notes and transcripts; (d) serving as a tool to awaken the researchers imagination; and (e) helping the researcher by keeping a written record of thei r thoughts, feelings, and facts (Janesick, 2004, p. 149). Each of the interviews was recorded on a udio tape and the recordings were later transcribed to ensure: (1) thorough and accurate data collection; (2) validity of the data 75

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collection process; and (3) that I have confiden ce in the database as being a true rendition of the what the participant said in the inte rview. Also, recording the interviews and knowing that the audio tapes would be transcribed allowed me freedom to pay attention to the participants responses instead of focusing on taking detailed notes during the interviews. When I later listened to the audio-recording of the interviews while simultaneously reading the transcripts, I wa s able to feel the data and I think my closeness added depth to the analysis as a result. Also, Fasick (1977) notes that by recording and transcribing the interviews rese archers are able to eliminate the faking of interviews and remove the possibility of a person saying they didnt say something when they actually did say it. Disputes can subse quently addressed after hearing the play back of the tape discussion as the intent can be argued instead of the actual words spoken (Fasick, 1977). This is an obvious protection fo r both the researcher and the participant. Interview Protocol An interview protocol was developed a nd used to collect data in one-to-one interviews with each of the eight participan ts to answer the research questions. The interviews were conducted with the participants in various locations in the school. The interviews were held in the principals o ffice, the principals conference room and the guidance counselors office over a four week period. The different settings were different in that the noise level varied between the settings. The principals office and the office of the guidance counselor were behind two entry doors while the entrance to the principals conference room was directly from a main hallway. Thus the student traffic 76

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in the hallway, the bells, and the announcem ents over the public address system was audible in the recordi ngs making it a distraction both dur ing the interviews and in the transcription of the audio-tapes. Data Analysis Data analysis focused on specific issues or themes that gave clues to understanding the complexity of the case. By identifying key issues within each case and then seeking common themes across the cases, th e analysis was rich in the context of the school-based leaders perspectives regarding American male students of African descent and their dropping out of school (Creswell, 2007; Janesick 20 04). Patton (2002) refers to inductive analysis as discovering patterns, themes, and categorie s in the data. He posits that findings emerge out of the data as a resu lt of the researchers into action with the data (p. 453). Janesick (2004) notes that the interpretation of the analysis makes case study and research useful and, much like Janesick (2004) I approached the data analysis with the notion that the answers to the questions would be found within the data. The participants exact meaning, what they really wanted to say would be found within the typed transcripts of the interviews (p.118). To come to an understanding of what each participant was saying required a reading and rereading of th e transcript. I was aware that rushing or making quick judgments wit hout a thorough review of the transcripts, would not allow me to really s ee what the participants were ac tually saying. As I read the transcripts, I consciously trie d to think about what I was thinking and feeling during the 77

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interview. I came to a realiza tion that each of the participan ts elicited different feelings and thoughts during each of the interviews. As I approached each interview, I wanted to explore and reach for the participants responses. I did not want to not interfere with what they were saying by injecting my thinking to lead them in a different direction than what they wanted to go. My overall intervie w strategy was to ask the question, listen to the response, and probe where I thought furthe r clarification was n eeded. What became interesting to me as I completed the inte rviews was the responses of the different individuals to the questions, the varying length of the in terviews, my impact on the participants (from my point of view), th e different level of passions, commitment and knowledge of the participants. After the interviews were completed I had them transcribed from the audio tapes. I received my transcription from the individu al who was an excellent typist, but when I read the transcriptions and listened to the audiotapes I realized the difference between typing and transcribing; this wa s a real awakening for me as a researcher. The typist had done a great job in putting the words on the pape r. However, I came to realize the schism between typing and transcribing an interview word for word. As I indicated in my November 15, journal entry: November 15, 2009 I find myself having to go back through the transcripts and make additions. I had not made my tr anscriber aware that the typing of the interviews had to be verbatim. In order to create a database that I am satisfied with, I need to go through each transcript word by word to make sure that the transcript reads as the tape does. This is taki ng a lot of time to go back through each transcript and make corrections and additions word by word. This is very tedious 78

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and time-consuming but at least I will be certain of the results. I respect [the transcribers] efforts to type the interviews. Transcribing interviews is nowhere near as easy as I envisioned. I understand how time consuming the process can be. The individual who transcribed the interv iews had made corrections to the words spoken in the interviews. They corrected the mistakes of diction, words, phrases, tense, and on occasions, the typist had summarized thoughts and made interpretations of what was stated by the interviewer and the interviewee. These corrections were very acceptable under normal conditions however; tr anscriptions must be word for word, syllable for syllable and utterance for utteran ce. I accepted the responsibility as I did not make it clear to the person who typed the transc riptions that the tran scriptions had to be word for word. The typist had indeed provi ded a service for me by putting the words on paper however I realized at that point that it was my responsibility to make the needed corrections. But I did not have a clue rega rding the time intensive nature of the task. My wanting to have an accurate data ba se required that I approach the data collection with the notion that the transcripts must be made accurate to the extent I could make them. My goal was to reflect as close a word for word rendition as I could. To accomplish that task I went through each audio-recording and matched it with the transcript word for word, syllable by syllabl e, and utterance by utterance to produce a database that reflected accurately the word s of the participants during each of the interviews. Completing this process took qui te a bit of time becau se of the stopping and starting, reading and rereading each of the transcripts ov er and over. One of the transcripts took me as long as th ree days to complete. Despite the time intensive nature of 79

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the task, I was determined to produce a database that was as true to the interview that I could render. In the end it was worth the effort as evidenced by the rush that I experienced when after reading the transcripts and listening to the tape and they matched almost perfectly. I do need to point out th at after I had completed my work with the transcripts and believed they were 100 percent correct, I later found that each subsequently time I listened to the tapes I al ways found minor correct ions. I would hear something that I had not noticed before or I found that I had left out some very minor words that I had not heard before. Because of this, I unable to ensure 100 percent accuracy of the transcriptions, I feel more comfortable guaranteeing accuracy somewhere between 96 percent and 98percent. After completing the transcripts, I began the process of making the transcripts manageable. I labeled the initial versi ons of the transcripts the unabridged version. This rendition included all of the utterances, double words, and word sounds that were spoken during the interview. An example of this unabridged version is as followed: Ans. .. we do that. um, II would like to see ch urches be given a bigger role in this society ofof ahworking withwith ahpotential drop outs and because I think they can make a big difference with youth. It s just one you better to get um there. You know but I think if you can get um there they can make them help a lot because they have a lot of people w ho care about them and they re ally wanna make an effort. Ah as far as thethe mostthe biggest th ingthe most effective thing that I think we can do inside the school is to develop those personal relationships. I think this the most important. Um we have an academic program in place. We have teachers who can teach. We have a curriculum. We have books. We have all of the supplies and equipment and technology that we need. I th ink that personal re lationship factor is the, is the biggest thing that we need to do a better job with and can be the most effective prevention t ool that we have. 80

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In the second round of working with the transcriptions I went back through each of the transcriptions and create d what I labeled the abridged version. This is where I took out all of the utterances, double words, and wo rd sounds, however, I attempted to be very careful not to change the mean ing or intent of the partic ipant. An example of the abridged version of the previous unabridged version is as follows: Ans. We do that. I would like to see churches be given a bigger role in this society of working with potential drop outs because I think they can make a big difference with youth. I think if you can ge t them there they can help them a lot because they have a lot of people who care about them and they really want to make an effort. The most effective thing that I think we can do inside the school is to develop those personal relationships. I think this the most important. We have an academic program in place. We have teachers who can teac h. We have a curriculum. We have books. We have all of the supplies and equipment and technology that we need. I think that personal relationship factor is th e, is the biggest thing that we need to do a better job with and can be the most effectiv e prevention tool that we have. For each of the transcriptions, I created other versions that centered on certain themes or areas of focus. One set of transc ripts contained only an swers to the questions; another version looked at the probes to each of the question; and still another contained the data chunks abstracted from the data. Each subsequent versi on I created required additional hours going through each of the transcri pts. This was not time wasted as each subsequent review of the transcripts allowed me to enhance my familiarity with the data and increased my ownership of and respect fo r the process. As I massaged (listened to the tapes and read the transcripts) the transcri pts I felt them almost come alive. Miles and Huberman (1994) point out that the transcri ptions alone do not capture the speakers facial expressions, explanatory gestures and to ne of voice (p. 51). I agree that this may 81

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be accurate for the casual reader of the transcriptions who was not involved in the interview process. However, as I read the unabridged versions of transcriptions and listened to the tape recordings the flavor of the interviews was robust and satisfying as it took me back and into the interviews a nd I captured the moment again and again. Chapter Summary This qualitative research uses case study to describe how school-based leaders perceive American males of African descent and why they drop out of school; their roles in dropout prevention and what efforts are bei ng made to challenge these students to stay in school. I presented my rationale for select ing this method and provided a discussion of qualitative research and the qualities needed by the qualitative resear cher. Case study as a methodology was explained followed by what were seen as the limits and strengths of the case study method. I outlined the data colle ction procedures and talked about how the data would be analyzed. 82

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Chapter Four Data Presentation Introduction This research described the perspectiv es of eight school-based leaders of American male students of African descent, why they drop out of their high school and their role in preventing these students from leaving school early unprepared for post high school life. An interview protocol was developed a nd used to collect data in one-to-one interviews with each of the eight participan ts to answer the research questions. The interviews were conducted with the participants in various locations in the school. The interviews were held in the principals office, the principals conference room and the guidance counselors office ove r a four week period. DataPresentation Research Question #1. What are school-b ased leaders perceptions of American male students of African descent and why they drop out of high school? The data revealed several themes from the eight participants responses that described and explained their perceptions of American male students of African descent and why they dropped out of their high school. The seven themes were related to: (1) the participants opinions and personal feelings toward the students; (2) student centered issues; (3) role models: these included athlet es, entertainers, and negative figures in the 83

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community); (4) family issues and concerns ; (5) peers; (6) community and societal concerns; and (7) School and edu cation/teacher related issues The participants provided a great deal of information regard ing their thoughts, perspectives, percepti on, feelings and impressions about American male students of African descent and their droppi ng out of school. Those data presented here resulted from reviewing each of the transcripts fo r themes that were representative the participants responses. As the themes are presented in the next section, it should be understood that no single statement adequate ly reflects the part icipants complete responses to the questions. These data are presented as examples of the participants thoughts, perspectives, feelings and impressions that were shared during the interviews. In the course of an interview, any of the participants may have made several related statements regarding an issue; however, to condense the responses for analysis, I looked for themes, or similarities that were repres entative of the partic ipants responses. The following examples illustrate the range of the participants perceptions. Participants Opinions and Personal Feelings toward the Students The first theme represents the participants own opinions, thoughts, and feelings as they relate to their perceptions of th e American male students of African descent dropping out of school, responses from the in terviews with Ms Adkins, Ms Avery, Mr. Iverson, and Mr. Onley are offered as examples: Ms Adkins I just I worry about them. I worry about our male students and the fact that many of them have records already, and they have its not for, like, petty little things either. I mean, they have records for major crimes that are going to follow them for the rest of their lives. 84

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They dont realize what thats going to do to their chances of being successful. Not to say that it would stop them, but for a lot of them it might because they dont have anybody in their corner really pushing them. Ms Avery I pretty much see them as every other student. I acquire knowledge from them of their lives and where they come from, in communiti es. I talk to every student, including African male students. I ask them about their life, I ask them about their history. I tend to know a little more about African-Americans. My husband is African-American, and so I live in their community and I live their churches, and I live with him in his life as well as mine, so thats where some of my perception of the African-American male community comes from, would be from him. But as far as the student population, I talk to them about it. Im not very shy. Mr. Iverson I think my general perception is in middl e school you have a better opportunity in, hopefully, affecting these students and pushing th em in a more positive direction. What I noticed when I came to high school, I had to change my whole mentality about dealing with students in general. In middle school, we tend to coddle, help them along, and give them numerous chances. I think to some extent that tends to hurt them, because by the time we get them in high school, a lot of th em have made the conscious decision that, either they want to stay, or they no longer find it useful for them to stay in high school. And the system is set up such that I dont think they get enough opportunities in high school, or I would say some of the assistance th at they need, or that they could have gotten in middle school. So I guess I can say Ive seen some of the errors in my ways when I was an AP in middle school. I think at that point if I had a been a little bit more strict, put a lot more requirements on them, as well as allowing them to learn to accept responsibility, when they came across the street, they would have a better idea of which direction to go. Ms Unger My perceptions of the American male of A frican descent is a strong individual, who if given opportunities, can be a great contributor to society. One, who if provided with the values from home, school, community, education and the church, if theyre provided and instilled those tools, one can be a great contributor, as I said, not only to education, the work force and other areas that they deem necessary and warranted. Mr. Onley When, youre dealing with young blacks, you have to love them, you have to scold them, you have to be their friend, but you have to gi ve them those things that theyre going to need later on when they are adults. But you can be compassionate, yet you have to be strong. To discipline a child in one breath and to hug them in the next, to realize that there is no such thing as perfection. That young black man has luggage, baggage that other people do not. They struggle in their own world. How can they then be successful in a totally opposite and different world thats ru le related, that is as rigid as rigid can be but you have to make tough decisions, where other ones are going to be easy. 85

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Student Centered Issues Similar themes that were student centered were found in all of the participants transcripts that, in some way, were connected to perceptions of the students personal characteristics, the students opinions or how the participants impacted the students at some level. Of the twenty data chunks code d in this category, nine were positive while eleven took a negative slant. The following perceptions represent the range of responses in this theme. Mr. Roberts Well, it's difficult to describe perceptions of a group that large without thinking of individuals. I think that my perception of that group would be that there is a great deal of variety. There's a great deal of difference between individuals within the group just like any other group. Most of the knowledge I ve acquired of male students of African descent were from my work as a school teacher and school administrator. Ive worked with kids from all backgrounds from all raci al and ethnic groups, from all kinds of families, from very poor to very wealthy fam ilies, and schools. And I don't think there is one characteristic that you can generally apply to every single member of that group. Ms Unger My perception of the American male of Afri can descent is a strong individual, who if given opportunities, can be a great contributor to society. One, who if provided with the values from home, school, community, education and the church, if theyre provided and instilled those tools, can be a great contributor to not only education, the work force but other areas that they deem necessary and warranted. Ms Underwood Its a mixed bucket because we have some of them that are very motivated to make something of their lives, and it seems that there are a greater number that just want to be what they perceive is expected of them by their local community, which is not always a favorable thing. They might think its not cool to be smart but cooler to be more thuggish. That perception makes them feel cooler. Mr. Irving American males of African descent probably have more obstacles to overcome, seemingly. It has been my experience from the schools that I have worked in that they have different needs. They have different exp ectations for themselves and we need to find different ways to approach the way were trying to educate them than weve done traditionally in the past. 86

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Role Models Through out the interviews th e participants seem to ha ve an awareness of the impact of role models on the students. The pa rticipants seemed to think that the issue of role models (or lack thereof) seemed to impact all areas of the students lives: Ms Avery Well, the people that these kids idolize are not always the best role models. I think that the kids they idolize that are the good role models need to be in the schools. They need to give back because, realistically, coming from a white female, theyre not going to listen to me because they dont feel that I came from their world. Sometimes you need to hear it from somebody else other than me. You can break down barriers with a kid, but when it comes to their life, someti mes they think that we dont understand. And some of them have told me that You dont understand us youre white. [I respond] Tell me what I dont understand. Ms Adkins My perception is, I think, a lot of our African-American males are falling too far behind the academic curve. A lot of them have no positive role models to look up too. The male role models they tend to emulate, because we live in such a me, now society, that some of those role models that they look up to are athletes and are music artists or who arent real positive to begin. They look at their lifestyles, they want that kind of lifestyle but they dont want to work for that kind of lif estyle. They want it just to, to be given to them. Mr. Roberts The rap artist, athletes theres a very small population of young black men who make a lot of money through athletics or through entertainment that I think kids look up to and I think possibly there is a resentment factor that exists from some longer standing establishment people. Other people in other raci al ethnic groups who resent other people that are not like them being successful. Family Issues and Concerns The participants perceptions that the st udents family impacts their dropping out is expressed in the following: Mr. Irving Some of the students that I see are being rai sed by either one parent or theyre being raised by a surrogate parent, like a grandmother or a grandfather. I even know a few students who are being raised by their older siblings 87

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Mr. Onley I tell this to parents that come out, quit beating yourself up. There is no question you love your child. And yes I, see your tears I, hear what you are saying you simply didnt have all the answers to all the questions And thats not your fault. Ms Underwood We have kids come to us with a mountain of personal issues. It could be that they are a single parent family. It could be that there are six kids and every one of them has different fathers, so theres no positive male role model at home. Whereas, you know, its not cool to stereotype, but you and I both know there are stereotypes that fit certain ethnic groups. And along with that come the expectations and everything else that goes with it. Is it b ecause the African American women dont care enough about themselves that they dont care that they have babies with numerous different men? And what happens because then the men arent there to help raise them and they dont have a positive role model. Ms Unger I have my own perception of what the real r eason, because I see a lot, poor parenting, lack of that male figure in the household. A lthough thats just a small part of it, but for some of the kids, I find, the role models that they have, even if they have a parent, some of the role models that these children look up to are questionable. Ms Adkins So many of their parents, they were young when they had them, and some of their parents are ill-equipped, because its almost like a cycle. They didnt have anybody in their lives to really push them so now; here they are tr ying to raise these children in a society where perception is everything. Peers Nearly all of the participants touched on the impact of the students peers at some point during the interview. Th eir collective perceptions recognize the influence of peers. Mr. Iverson Its not so easy to walk away. You know, th e peer pressure is such that sometimes you have to stand and fight. And so its hard for them, when they get into the high school setting to understand that the way to solve it is not to fight, or throw down, in the middle of the patio. You know, or, I have students that have, have gotten involved with the law, but this code of not stitch, snitchi ng puts them in a situation where they then become a victim. They would rather take the rap than to identify those individuals that actually took part in the incident. 88

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Ms Underwood Some of the African American males get a lot of pressure from their peers to dummy it down. Mr. Onley it was difficult for those students to break th at because there was th e reach in the peer pressure put upon them. But they would seek them out and they would want them to fail. I feel the same thing happens in schools wher e there are students that have already made their decision of the path of life theyre going to take, and they want people with them. And they seek them out and if they cant enlis t them with very little resistance, then their group grows. And if there is resistance, theres tremendous pressure. If you look at those groups when they travel, when theyre together, you have very tall students, and you have very small students, its almost like a recruiting process. I fear for many 9th graders coming in, because theyre still eligible for four years of school, where these other ones are 16 and 17 and they know its going to be di fficult for them to graduate. Its almost like theyre trying to perpetuate the problem. It s uncanny to look at the size differential. Community and Societal Concerns The theme related to the impact of societ al/community issues were expressed in the responses of most of the participants. Some comments that reflect their collective responses are: Mr. Roberts I know that theres a public perception that as a group those students that fit into that category perform less well, overall, as a group on standardized tests and in school than some other groups that you can pinpoint. But I think that's an individual thing that has to be looked at for individual students. People are born, or have been born mostly with at least prejudice, biases everybody has them I think to some extent, some more than others. I think that perception is perpetrated perhaps or exacerbated by pop culture somehow. I think there is a celebration of the gangster element in movies, music, and the media in general among young people. I think people re bel against authority, including my own generation. I think the rebellion that take s place now is the media rebellion is often associated with young black males. They are the most popular music people now and pop music is on radio stations and all that kind of thing. Mr. Iverson The other thing I think that I have noticed is we take them from apartment complexes, we take them from some of the living areas where they come from, and school for them is a safe haven. But what we dont always deal w ith is what happens when they go back. The 89

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transition from home to school and from school to home, because obviously when they get back home theyre dealing with some of th e very same issues, and its not so easy to turn the other cheek. Mr. Irving I believe that if you looked at them from a larger perspective, some people who call them at-risk, not necessarily a, term that I would use, but that is the term that is perceived. Males in general, probably would be considered at-risk in schools. Mr. Onley Theyre very hungry for knowledge. Really, esp ecially in kindergarten to second grade, I dont see a difference between that particular child and those who arbitrarily might be in his or her classroom. I think I start to see a change, however, when I get to the 5th and the 6th grade, where some of their characteristics, I think, have begun to change because of many of the environmental and cultural issu es that seem to overwhelm them. They still are thirsty for education, but they sometimes have so many conflicts spinning off from the environment. School and Education/Teacher Related Issues Examples that illustrate the participan ts thoughts about the impact of school or education are found in the following stat ements made by the participants: Ms Adkins We dont have enough positive male role mode ls in our school system, for one and we dont seem to be producing a lot of African-American male teachers. The ones that are going into college and are being successful, d ont want to major in education because of the money. We have to import them into the school, but theyre not here on a daily basis where the kids can, if they have a problem theres that man that they can go to and talk to. They have to wait until the next time theyre scheduled to come here to talk about something. Well, in that span of time, any num ber of things could have happened. Mr. Onley There is no, and I repeat there is no artic ulation between elementary to middle, and middle to high school that properly identifies students early on. What I mean by that is this. When a child completes K-5, they may have specific issues in disciple or reading or whatever. The county thinks they do a good job of articulating that but there is not a real bridge in my opinion where students can be, they can move forward from one type of a school environment to the next and what an elementary school might have been doing then the middle schools starts to do it. It is almost like you were elementary, now you are middle, no. Whole different set of things, so instead of trying to solve the problem you magnify the problem and it becomes worst for the child and every time that child sees 90

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more frustration, more heartache the more difficult it becomes for that child to see success. And then when they move from middl e to high school a lot of 15, 16 year old kids are already in middle school. Where the middle schools should be doing a better job of identifying those, of helping them and then when they get to us it is so difficult at that point because now its almost that their mindset is cemented. They didnt do it there how am I suppose to do it in a high school? What happe ns is this and Ive said this to my staff repeatedly, you might be a high school teacher but those kids cry, they bleed they do everything and what they need is love and understanding. Teachers have too many ears. They need to be deaf. Because profanity that is being said is like you and I drinking water. They sometimes dont even know they have dropped an F-bomb because its natural for them. So, you have teachers that wa nt every child to be exactly the same and view every child the same. Well, you cant. The participants were also asked how th ey acquired their knowledge of American males of African descent. A ll of the participants indicated that th eir personal knowledge of these students, to some degree, was base d in their working with them in the school system. In addition, all of the participants, except one, said thei r knowledge was based on personal experiences with these students that extended into their homes, family, churches, and neighborhood to some degree. Several of th e participants indicated they had lived in neighborhoods that were predominately Ameri cans of African descent or a mixture of races. Some had lived in these neighbors as a result of their familys socio-economic status. One of the participants indicated th at they had married an American of African decent, lives in that community and attends a church in that community as a result of the marriage. Another participan t said that he had visited the community and had gone to their churches only on special occasions when he had been invited. One participant revealed that her knowledge of these stude nts was limited to her school contacts as a guidance counselor. The following exchange illustrates this: 91

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Question How did you acquire your knowledge of these students, their lives, their histories, communities, etc.? Ms Underwood Through personal experience being a high school guidance counselor in an inner city school with a majority population that [is] African Americans, I see it everyday. Question Have you had the opportunity to go into their homes, their churches and their communities? Ms Underwood No. Question So your primary contact has been in school? Ms Underwood In school, absolutely. Research Question #2. Are the school-based leaders aw are of the dropout rate of American male students of Afri can descent? What efforts are being made to address these students dropping out of high school? The following responses demonstrate the range of the school-based leaders response to their being aware of th e dropout rate of these students: Mr. Iverson: Not at this point. We havent addressed that i ssue this year. At the end of last year, we got information from the district that [stated] when students come to your school in the 9th grade, you follow them from the 9th grade to the 12th grade, regardless of whether they stay at your school or they transfer to another school. Probe: If you had to gauge [the dropout rate] would you say its high, medium, or low? Mr. Iverson: I would say based on our population its high. Mr. Irving: The number? Probably not, I couldnt quote the number, no. Probe: If you generally, had to say, would you say that its low, medium, or high? Mr. Irving: Id probably go for medium at this point. But it might be leaning towards high, thats an outside possibility. Mr. Onley: That has been a real focal point. Matter of f act, I went to a meeting last week, where the region, the state is redefining what a true dropout is. And so, probably my word is a just 92

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little bit keener right now that someone elses. But [yes], I am very familiar with the dropout rate. Probe: Are you aware if its high, low, medium? Mr. Onley: I can only go with what I heard recently. Our dropout rate is right in the mean of the district. Which to me is extremely good, because we are not at risk students. So, to me [we] must be doing something right. If it was at the lower quartile, you know when I look at [this schools] dropout rate ve rsus other inner city at risk schools. We got [them] beat. Mr. Roberts: I'm aware that the dropout rate is high among that group compared to some other groups. I don't know the exact number at this point. Ms Adkins: I dont have any exact numbers in my school, I know nationwide its extremely high. Probe: If you had to characterize the dropout rate at your school, would you say its low, medium, or high? Ms Adkins: For my school, I would say low. Ms Avery: Yes, I am, and I cant tell you what it is right now, but we do look at it especially since our dropout rate as a whole is now tied to our school grade. Its becoming very, very important whether theyre African-America n or not, every dropout is becoming important. Ms Underwood: I cant give you what the numbers are. But I know its a social and academic concern. Ms Unger: I am. At this very moment, in terms of the pe rcentage, I definitely cant say above a ten. Im having to quote08school year, its defi nitely below 10% at this school. Because I must say the one thing we do is put forth ev ery effort we can possibly can to keep our youth. Not only the African American male the emphasis on [them] because thats who we lose thats the greatest population that tends Four themes were identified in the participants responses that were related to the efforts made to address American male stude nts of African descen t dropping out of high school. The themes were not unanimously found in the participants responses but are broad enough to be inclusive of their res ponses. The range of responses reflected a diversity of things among the school-based l eaders regarding the effo rts that were being 93

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made to address these boys dropping out of school. The themes found in the responses were: (1) direct administrative action; (2) specific dropout prevention programs; (3) improvements needed to address the problem ; (4) critiques of present practices. Direct Administrative Action In the theme direct administrative some of the participants said administration takes a proactive role by t alking about it quite a bit, id entifying potential dropouts, providing mentoring and counseling, meeting with them and their pare nts to talk about their options, and have them sign a behavi oral agreement when warranted. It was reported that one administrator created a me ntoring program for boys while another has a mentoring program for girls. Along with differe nt clubs to enhance self esteem and peer facilitation, they schedule motivational speaker s to talk with thes e youngsters to inspire them, and give them a sense of hope and the opportunity to see su ccessful individuals. One administrator is working toward s ecuring a bus to take students home who participate in the afterschool tutoring program. The admi nistration has created a policy that requires that students with attendance or discipline issues to automatically go through guidance before they register. All administ rators will be asked to work with students who are potential dropouts by meeting with them once a month, reviewing bad grades, building relationships and be ing there to assist them. One of the participants indicated that th e school targets at-ris k students in general and didnt know if the respons e to American males of African descent was any different. 94

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Another participant seems to think the emphasis is on the American male students of African descent because they are the ones who mostly drop out. Specific Dropout Prevention Programs; The participants responses in the theme, specific dropout prevention programs include: (1) disciplinary program s inclusive of In School Suspension (ISS), Out of School Suspension (OSS), and Alternative to Out of School Suspension (ATOSS); (2) A tutoring program in place that targets male students based on attendance, grades, and grade point average; (3) Gear Up Program is a grant that targets minority students and provides afterschool tutoring programs, community service, plus other things. This program and Project Shine are for all minority students; (4 ) Credit Recovery that allows students to make up credits at a quicker pace on line; (5) Impact Program is for children at-risk of not graduating and are a year behind. Th e students attend full time and are given a chance to make up their classes so that they can graduate on time with their class. According to the participant, Impact is not a dropout prevention program but is under the umbrella; (6) Educati onal Talent Search Program (CROP) that targets at-risk youth to help them become successful in completing high school; (7) [the st ate] Virtual; (8) The Extended Learning Program allows students to go to the Media Center for online classes and receive after school tuto ring in any subject; and (9) Under-age GED Program. One participant stated they are working on crea ting an afterschool a dult education program that would allow the students to make up classes they failed in the first semester. 95

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Improvements Needed to Address the Problem Some of the participants provided responses that made up the theme, improvements needed to address the problem It was stated that although administrators want to do something about the problem and in the past they came up with strategies; however, it was noted that they plans were not followed through because, things just got worn down as the year progressed. The participant conceded that its hard to maintain the momentum as there are so many issues go ing on that the focus goes elsewhere. It was commented that the right things need to be done and strong leadership is needed to make the system change. One participant i ndicated that the admini stration is not doing enough but they are doing what they can. It was the thinking of one of the participants that if more effort or focus was placed on the issue, more could be accomplished. Critique of present practices The theme, critique of present practices was reflected by the participants who indicated that there is talk a bout the issue but a plan of actio n is not developed to address the problem. It is believed by a participant that the decision makers do not listen to those in the trenches because they veto plans that require work on their part may have problems with the community because they dont want to upset parents. It was noted that the school systems will never change unless administ rators have a belief system that wants to make the changes. One comment was that it was not known if anything is being done to enhance students needs to connect to school. Still another said that they would like to say that something is being done but cant think of anythi ng specific. One participant 96

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expressed the thinking that not all of the administrators see dropouts or dealing with dropout prevention as being important. One be lieved that more could be done and the leadership needs to take an act ive role. Participants stated that the male group is run by a male administrator of African descent and th e female group is run by an American female of African descent on their own initiative. One of the participants indicated that they thought the biggest obstacle was getting the school to actually incorporate some of the programs that they thought would be more beneficial to the students. Research Question # 3. What role has sc hool-based leaders played in preventing American male students of African descent from dropping out of school? The school-based leaders believe that they play a significant role in identification of those students who are at-risk of dropping out of high school. All of the participants readily identified the procedures they used that identified those children coming from middle school and those who were in thei r school who were potential dropouts. The participants stated that the assi stant principals and guidance counselors review the records of every incoming middle school student, in the summer, focusing on their previous academic performance (that in cludes their test scores and GPA), their attendance, and discipline records. They noted that the past performance in middle school gives them a picture of whos less like ly to stick it out through four years of high school. It was stated that stude nts are considered part of a cohort when they enter the 9th grade and have four years to complete four years of school. When they see someone who doesnt potentially have that ab ility to finish in the time fram e, then they believe theyre 97

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looking at someone whos pot entially going to be a dropout. Some did point out, however, that they dont specifi cally target any one group of students but the majority of the over-aged population coming from the eight h grade that should have been in high school two years earlier are Ameri can males of African descent. One of the participants noted that they start programming from the middle school in November/December. The guidance counselor, assistant principal for curriculum and the assistant principal for stude nt affairs work as a team. They look at the over-aged report in summer to know whos coming from middle school because the middle school sends a lot of 15/16 year olds coming to the high school for the very first time from 8th grade; which means the child has been in 8th grade two years, if hes coming in here 16 years old and likely to turn 17 the same year and should already be in the 11th grade. It was stated that they look at attendance weekly, starting as soon as the year starts when theyre coming in from 8th grade. They review the li st of whos missing, and thats a first indicator for them that there may be potential issues. One of the participants revealed that by reviewing their grades, progr ess reports, and disciplinary histories at mid year, a determination can be made of interven tions needed before they may lose them. The assistant principal talks with the guidance counselor to see if there are circumstances in the childs family life that might lead to his dropping out of school. If there are mitigating circumstances and the lack of attendance is a short-term issue is different from a habitual period of attendance that that theyre not coming, skipping classes, disciplinary 98

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problems at school, thats when they become on the radar, so to speak, according to a participant. Participants reported that they look at their populations over-a ge report sometime in March, then we go back in August a nd look at the over-age reports, not looking specifically at the African American male but looking at everybody, but the American males of African descent are the ones mostly dropping out. The whole administration, guidance and in some cases teachers who refe r students but primarily the student affairs office are involved in this process according to some participants: Ms Underwood Probe: How does your school generally identify potential drop-outs? Ms Underwood: We look at their attendance, discipline records, and ability level. We look at if they skip classes, attend their classes, do they do their work or do they blow it off? Its pretty easy to identify them, but there are many factors that we look at. Probe: How is this done and by whom? Ms Underwood: Everybody, just by accessing school records. Probe: And when you say everybody who do you mean? Ms Underwood: They could be teachers, or the administrators or the guidance counselors. Ms Avery Probe: When you generally identify potent ial dropouts, how is this done, and by whom? Mr. Avery: There are some key indicators that we identify, one is attendance. We start looking at attendance rates and thats, again, not targeted specifically at any group. We look at grades, test scores and the student as a whole. AP talks with the guidance counselor to see if theres any issues that might have been going on at home that would not lead you to think that they might drop out. But attendance is the biggest factor, Mr. Iverson Probe: Who is involved in that process? Mr. Iverson: The whole administration, guidance and in some cases teachers who refer students but primarily the student affairs offi ce. They identify all students 16 years of age with a 1.75 GPA or below. The three areas we look at are: attendance, discipline, number of credits, and their grade point aver age and based on that, they meet with the parents prior to school and try to determine the best academic environment is for the child. 99

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Mr. Roberts Probe: How do you generally identify potential dropouts? Mr. Roberts: Assistant principals and guidance counselor s review the records of every incoming middle school student for their previous perform ance, attendance, and discipline record to see how theyve done in the past that gives th em a picture of whos less likely to stick it out through four years of high school In the summer they identify all stude nts 16 years of age with a 1.75 GPA or below. The following illustrates the invol vement of the staff in the process: Probe: When you say we look at it, what we you are talking about? Response: Guidance Counselor, Assistant Principa l of Curriculum and the Assistant Principal of Student Affairs work as a team. Probe: So you sit down twice a year and talk about this? Response: Its more than twice a year. They go in and look at that incoming group, at the beginning of the year without waiting. You need to have something in place. When those children come in at 16 and 17 years old and you meet with the kid or the parent, you need to have some kind of plan of action in place I insist that the kid come up with an educational plan of action because I need them to buy into it. Probe: so you do meet with the parents and the child? Response: Oh, you have to. Probe: Is this something you do; or is there a requirement? Response: This is based on this is me. The areas they look at are: attendance, discipline, number of credits, and their grade point average, based on t hose they meet with the parent s prior to school and try to determine the best academic environment for the child. One of the participants offered an exampl e of using one option with an American male of African descent: Response: Ill give you a good example of one of my students just recently. This child is 17 years old, therere really [ going to] turn 18, should be graduating with the class of 2010, but was barely in the 11th grade. Bright, extremely bright kid, but something happened where in the lo wer grade the kid was retained, so therefore, as a result of th at, this kid had to be almo st two years behind. Really bright but the interest didnt seem th ere because I knew he wasnt going to graduate with his class. So what I recommended his mother do, because his mother was really frustrated because she had taken the kid from one school to 100

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another. In fact, the kid had come to us from another high school not far from here. But [to] this kid it didnt make a di fference. And I try to tell parents taking him from one school sometimes just doesnt help, that change must come within because all of us should be providing the same thing, although we do know if different. But anyway, we still saw that he wasnt going to be ready to graduate with the class of 2010. So the mother had begun to take some other route that I felt that the child had expressed was not of interest to him which was going to cause her to really lose the kid. So I enc ouraged her to come back to the school to sit with me, the guidance counselor, the assistant principal and the student and then presented to her the other options wherein this child could go on and get his high school diploma, which is thr ough our underage, pre-GED high school diploma program where they actually get a state of [State] high school diploma. Research Question # 4. What is needed to keep Ameri can male students of African descent in school until graduation? The participants responses related to the research que stion, What is needed to keep American male students of African de scent in school until graduation? fell into themes that were: (1) school centered, (2) community centered, and (3) family centered. Because the theme school centered had a large number of responses, sub-themes were identified that impact the admi nistrators and the teachers. School Centered In the theme addressing what the school administration can do to prevent these students from dropping out of school, the school based leaders reported that the following is needed: more trained couns elors are needed to provide counseling for these students; mentoring programs; the visibility of minoritie s in positions of authority and the hiring of role models that reflect success. One part icipant noted: I think that the biggest one would be the early intervention, visibility of minorities in positions, of authority, or in 101

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charge and it doesnt necessarily mean, you know, every other school principal needs to be a minority.; the leveling of the playing field; expand dropout prevention programs; provide manpower to chase the kids down; cr eate positive way for kids to connect to school by providing attractive courses they ar e interested in; more vocational schools and vocational programs; year round programs for kids; dayt ime work for students that counts toward graduation; to teach kids to love themselves, give them the same chances and opportunities; change the pe rceptions tied to negative st ereotypes; smaller counselor case loads for a manageable student-to-counse lor ratio that would allow for innovation; put up an information tent at football games maybe give something away free; use money and food as incentives to get them involved with the school; program s that dont require a lot of money; and they need to go the route of sc ience technology. One participant said that money is pum ped into advanced placement and honors classes, and likewise money should be pumped into programs that address the needs of these kids as their reading and math skills ar e not on grade level. Another said that the administration should find another way to a ddress this, although it might mean working a couple more hours a day, they believed the benefit outweighs the amount of time that would be put into it. Another expressed that educators are needed who can truly meet the needs of todays children and teachers who teach these children should be those who really want to teach. These students need to know if youre nononsense and care about what happens to them, children can see through pretend; 102

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One participant believes that quite often legislation is drafte d and policy decisions made without input from those involved the in dealing with the stud ents on a day-to-day basis. They noted that a wealth of knowledge and information can be gained by just walking around and talking to th e teachers that deal with stud ents on a day-to-day basis. They have very good ideas, if you never ask them you never get the answer. People need to understand that all races can contribute to the discussion. They believe that if you want to know whats going on you need to come down to the real world, you need to get input from people to get differe nt peoples perspectives. They indicated the need to see what programs are working across the country by visiting other dist ricts and observing techniques and methods that r eally work with these childre n. Administrators should be brought in that have made a difference with this population and th en model what they have done, stated one participant, and added that they need to see what progressive districts are doing. It was indicated that the teachers need mo re intensive reading strategies and better reading programs; more cultural sensitivity training as white middle class teachers need to know how to be more sensitive to other cultu res, according to one of the participants. It is believed that a personal relationship is the biggest thing they need to do a better job and it can be the most effective prevention to ol that they have in working with these children. Teachers need to st and up and set an example, as students need to know if youre no-nonsense and care about what ha ppens to them, children can see through pretense, stated a participant. 103

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Community Centered The participants believes that community centered resources can prevent these students from dropping out of school. These in clude: churches having a larger role in providing after school study space, mentoring pr ograms, and tutoring sessions to assist potential dropouts. It was also expressed that the students need a place to go 24/7 to take online classes to catch-up on work, and to have access to the internet. The Boys Club or other community organization was recommended as a place they can go to sit and work. An advantage was also seen if the community, school, family and society mesh together to do something about the problem of these students dropping out of high school. Family Centered Most of the participants responses indicated that they believed family needs to provide more support for some of these childr en. They pointed out that some of the children have no support from a family who th emselves were not su ccessful in school. Some children dont have summer jobs and no ones home to make them read. The lack of parental involvement was expressed as a concern. More parental involvement was seen as being needed, and at least one partic ipant expresses that parents should be forced to participate with th eir childs school. The parents were not comfortable with school and they dont want to visit. Many pare nts have not earned a high school diploma and therefore see little value in th eir children achieving it. Also the parent may lack certain skills and is in need of help themselves, accord ing to a participant. A first step might be 104

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having a dialogue with them so they can tell us what were doing wrong, how we can help you. Critical Race Theory In this inquiry, the third theme of CRT, a commitment to social justice, is the theoretical frame that guides this study. Since Ladson-Billings and Tate introduced CRT to education in 1995 it has emerged as a powerful theoretical and an alytical framework within the educational research commun ity (DeCuir & Dixson, 2004). CRT is an accepted tool that assists educators to understand how race and racism impact upon educational practices and it is a framework for examining how race and racism impact structures, processes and discourse within th e context of teacher education while seeking to transform society by identifying, analyzing and eliminating subtle and overt forms of racism in education (Smith, Yosso & Solrzano, 2007). The end goal of this activist aspect of Critical Race Theory is to bring a bout change that leads to social justice. In this research, social justice refers to the extent the school-based leaders are working toward creating a school climate wher e all students receive equitable and fair treatment without regard for their race, sex, gender, or national orientation. According to critical race scholars, schools possess the potential to oppress and marginalize students on the one hand, and to em power and emancipate them on the other. These scholars note that race can be a factor a ffecting the dropout rate of American males of African descent and also, how and why thes e students are treated as they are in U.S. schools. Fine (1991) believes that seconda ry schools were never designed for low 105

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income and students of color (pg. 31). The st ructure and culture of public schools tend to reflect white middle-class values and assumpti ons that may not be synchronized with the values and assumptions of American male students of African descent and their families thus, these students often have difficulty re lating to school. Students are expected to conform to the school's requirement rather than the school being responsive to the needs of the students. A relationship exists betw een school culture and st udent performance, it was found that the more collaborative and co llegial the school's culture the better the student performance, thus resulting in students who are more likely to stay in school (Patterson, Hale, & Stressman, 2007, p. 12). According to Danielson (2002), educators and school-based leaders must change their attitudes toward American male students of African descent to ensure success in reducing dropout rates. She st ates that the beliefs of edu cators influence their behavior toward these students; thus, if educators beli eve that American male students of African descent are not capable of high academic perf ormance, they may make little or no effort toward providing a quality educ ational experience that make a difference in the lives of those American male students of African descent they have th e responsibility of educating. Gordon, Gordon and Nembhard (1994) found that the discriminatory practices within our nation's schools target Ameri can male students of African descent and negatively impact upon their academic performa nces. They referenced studies that showed that some teachers in the U.S. have few expectations of American male students 106

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of African descent in gene ral and even lower expecta tions of those who are nonsubmissive and independent. According to these researchers, the implementation of school disciplinary policies demonstrates the disproportionate and negative impact these policies have had on these students opportunitie s to learn. American male students of African descent respond to these policies by : (1) developing negative attitudes toward their educational experiences; (2) experiencing higher levels of conflict within school; (3) exhibiting anti-authoritarian behavior; and (4) expressing attit udes which negatively affect their academic achievement. While these students may have a lower level of academic self-concept, these same students ma y not have a lower self-concept in other areas of their lives (Gord on, et. al, 1994). According to Dorn (1996), the dropout problem as a byproduct of dysfunction of school systems and extent of drop out problem is the result of timid public officials and school administrators not being willing to address the issue. Dorn believes that educati on is the right of all citizens and the dropout rate is evidence that schools are failing to guarantee that certai n students rights are protected (Dorn, 1996). The school social justice aspect of the pers pectives of the school-based leaders is reflected in the participants statements regard ing their being aware of the impact of these boys race, race related or racial concerns. Ms Underwood Social conscious makes you recognize majority of those in jails are African-American men. Its a social issue, more than academics but we cant preach morality. Mr. Iverson I share with them the statistics regarding the numbers of black males in jail. 107

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I try to have them think of their futures b ecause most dont have a clue of their future. You have to keep beating and beating. We are making progress this year I try to make them aware of whats available to them and how their dress and braids can make an impression on people, pants hanging down below your waist. They need to learn the rules to better play the game and then when you get the position folk arent too concerned about the way you are dressed. ..I work with a couple of groups. .. I referred 10 students for the tutoring program Mr. Onley These boys have baggage that others do not. Their struggle, their world is different; different rules. ..These boys values are different. Administrators need to understand and send the same message. There needs to be an understanding that doesnt come from books People need to see things from the point of view of the Black boys and be willing tell their story. I try to get my teachers to see the human needs of Black children Teachers need to be sensitive to the childr en. ..They need to understand and not react to the language Ms Avery As a whole teachers are good with minority students. To say that all of our teachers are perfect, no. This is a Title I school and most children are Title I; Title I is low socioeconomic, racial make-up is one third black one third white and one third Hispanic We do have some teache rs who should not be in a Title I school. Kids dont listen to me as a white female, they dont feel I came fro m their world; Kids dont think I understand because of my race. I do not challenge them but understands their position; experiences in their life that led them to that statement. Once they get to know me, they start to trust. Their perceptions of me and my history does not allow them to see that I am much more aware of who they are and that I have knowledge of their world. Mr. Irving A counselors job is to be an advocate. Sometimes this becomes an ethical dilemma when with administration. Two sets of rules exist that govern the different schools. Affluent parents have the most power and weight. Mr. Roberts Worked with kids from all racial and ethnic backgrounds from very poor to very wealthy It [perception] comes from attitudes that people have developed over time. People are born with prejudice. Everybody has biases to some extent, some more than others. Perception exacerbated by pop culture. Possibly resentment from establishment people. [Majority] Resent other ethnic groups that are not like them being successful. There are teachers who say discouraging thin gs to children and are not encouraging and informally help kids make the decision to dropout, out of frustration. 108

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Ms Adkins Some are children are perceived as being th uggish and thugs because of their hair and dress. Child has to prove they are smart and capable of doing their work Children fight back when backed into a corner. Some teachers can be antagonistic If that child is getting suspended, theyre not getting the instruction, and they end up failing classes, and they get further, and further, and further behind and they If the teacher is not willing to work with them as if they were their child, they give up. They feel she doesnt care. There used to be a diversity workshop that the district used to do, not certain if they are still doing it I talk to students about others perceptions of them to get them to take more challenging classes. I encourage them but she was more involved when she was in the classroom. I stayed with my kids all the time and I would call parents and let them know when something was not going awry, but in this role I dont see them all the time. When she sees it in the classroom she fo llows up with them, we address it then. Ms Unger We dont listen to youth enough We need to dialogue with dropouts to find out whats motivating them to leave Kids say they are sick of the school setting and want out Schools dont meet the needs of the 21st century kid Kids bore easily with ditto and note taking from overhead projector Studies are needed that track black males from K thru 12 The climate in the school the attitudes of some teachers, attitudes of administrators need to be worked on. Need diversity training More faculty that reflect student population is needed Teachers are needed who refl ect the student population Need strong discipline, creative leadersh ip, people coming in who will create programs Summary The data for the research was collected via audio recording and the tapes were transcribed. I presented the part icipants responses to the research questions using their own words and thoughts as a frame. The upcom ing chapter will provid e an analysis of the data and discuss the relevance of the st udy and its impact on educational leadership. 109

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Chapter Five Conclusion and Recommendations Introduction Chapter five provides an overview of th e research; gives an interpretation and summary of the findings relate d to the research questions; discusses the recommendations and implications for social change and ends with my reflections and recommendations for future research. Purpose of the Study This study described the perspectives of eight school-based leaders regarding American male students of African descent; why they drop out of high school; and the role these school-based leaders play in prev enting these students from dropping out of high school. Overview of the Research Across the country, thousands of students are leaving schools everyday. At this rate, more than a million students will not gra duate with their cohort on time. The impact of these children leaving school transcends just them and their families as their dropping out cost the nations economy billions of dolla rs over their lifetimes. If the numbers of students leaving our nations sc hools is not addressed over the next decade, it is estimated that 12 million students will eventually drop out at a cost of one trillion dollars to the 110

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nations economy (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2008) The issue of students dropping of school is a crisis that must be addressed. The dropout problem is complex and the extent of the problem is not completely understood because of the lack of a nationwid e consensus definition of dropout. There is little standardization regardi ng the definition of a dropout be cause states are allowed to define dropouts and dropout rates as they see fit. Because of mini mum federal and state oversight, it is difficult to compare and cont rast dropout rates and da ta accuracy between states. Literature relating to defining school dropouts varies and because the term is not consistently defined, it was difficult to mon itor and conduct research on the subject in a systematic manner. The absence of a cons ensus regarding the best method of reporting dropout data has hampered efforts to standa rdize a definition of the dropout (Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2007; Orfield, Losen & Wald, 2004; Rumberger, 1987; Samuels 2007). For this study, I defined a dropout as a child under the age of 17 who, because he no longer attends his school of record, was removed from the schools roll and is no longer counted as an active student. When children leave school that decision was not spontaneous but the end result of a slow process of disengagement that began long before high school, for some even as early as the first grade. By the eighth grade, many students have already made the decision to leave school and are just marking time until they actually leave which is many times between the 10th and 10th grades in high school (Bridgeland, DiIulio, & Wulsin, 111

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2008; Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2007; Gallagher, 2002; Goldschmidt & Wang, 1999; Lee & Burkam, 2003; Smyth & Haltam, 2001; Wolk, 2009). Why Students Dropout Children leave school for a variety of r easons that are: (a) behavioral; (b) sociological; (c) political; (d) cultural; and (e) socioeconom ic (Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2007; Goldschmidt & Wang, 1999; Jimerson, Anderson, & Whipple, 2002; Kranick & Hargis, 1998; Lee & Burkam 2003; Patterson, Hale, & Stressman, 2007; UCLA, 2005; Walden & Kritsonis, 2008; Wehlege, 1989) Other factors are student/family centered while st ill others are rela ted to the structural components of schools. As most students ente r high school they are in thei r adolescent years when they are still trying to make sense of themse lves and the world around them. For many, entering high school can be cultural shock and they have to figure out this foreign world with very different sets of rules. Many st udents are unsuccessful in navigating the high school terrain and become at risk of dropping out. There are indicators that identify when students are at-risk of dropping out that in clude their: (1) having issues developing meaningful relationships with adults or peers at school; (2) lacking involvement in school sponsored activities; (3) not developing a sens e of belonging to the culture of the high school; (4) losing their sense of identity and mo tivation if they are enrolled in culturally diverse schools where they are unable to f it into the culture of the school; (5) having attendance, discipline and performance issues in school; (6) low levels of peer academic competition; (7) schools having few experienced or qualified teacher s; (8) schools having 112

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limited advanced course selections; (9) povert y level and the level of school racial segregation, and the proporti on of non-white students in the school; and (9) attending schools with higher concentra tion of students with hea lth and emotional problems (Bridgeland, DiIulio, & Wulsin, 2008; Carpen ter & Ramirez, 2007; Children's Defense Fund 2005; Clark, 2004; Lee & Burkam, 2003; Orfield, Losen, Patterson, Hale, & Stressman, 2007; Stearns & Glennie, 2006; Wald & Swanson, 2004; Wolk (2009) Dropping out of school has serious conseque nces not only for the student and his family; society pays a price when these chil dren prematurely leave school unprepared to meet the obstacles that lie ahead. When th ese students leaving school early they forfeit many of the opportunities they would have ha d had they stayed and graduated. Their marketability in the job market is diminished which impacts their ability to adequately provide for a family. Their opportunity to ma ke a positive statement in their community and any chance for post-secondary education all but vanishes when students dropout of high school before completion (Darling-Ha mmond, 2000; Jimerson, Egeland, Sroufe, & Carlson, 2000; Rumberger, 1983). Domestically, students dropping out of schools cost state and local governments billions of dollars in public assistance, unemployment benefits, and emergency medical treatment. When dropouts commit crimes and engage in criminal activity, tax dollars pay for their apprehension, prosecution, conviction an d subsequent incarceration (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2008; UCLA: The Civ il Rights Project, 2005; Weis, Farrar, & Petrie, 1989). 113

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The United States is a world leader in pr ison incarcerations a nd American male of African descent, many of whom are high school dropouts, disproportionately fill the prison populations (Carroll, 2008). Comprising six percen t of the U.S. population, American males of African descent account for 70 percent of th e total prison population (Nealy, 2008). Fifty-two percent of all Amer ican males of African descent in their thirties, with prison records, have also droppe d out of school at some point in their lives (Orfield). Certain student cohorts are overrepresented in the dropout statistics which seem to suggest that, nationwide, school districts are not educating all of Americas children. One such student cohort, American males of African descent lead the statistics as a majority of these students dropping out instead of completing high school. In comparison to that of their white peers, the dropout rate of American male students of African descent is significantly higher and the graduation rate much lower. Reducing the number of these students who dropout, seem to present an evas ive challenge for school districts that are responsible for ensuring that all st udents receive a quality education. In 2002, the states in the southern region wh ich is made up of We st Virginia, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Flor ida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Virginia had the lowest graduation rates in the country and Florida had the lowest graduation rate (38.3 percent) for American male students of African descent in the southern region. Floridas dropout rate of American male stude nts of African descent is disproportionately 114

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high in relation to the overal l student population. While more American male students of African descent attend schools in Florida than any other state, their graduation rate is lower than the national average (UCLA, 2005). In the 2003-2004 school year, Florida had an enrollment of 320,962 American male students of African descent. In that same year, the graduation rate for American male students of African was 31 percent; the gradua tion rate for White male students was 54 percent, a gap of 23 percent. Data reveal that American ma le students of African descent enrolled in Florida, New York and Georgia public schools are twi ce as likely not to graduate with their class. Researchers found a high correlation between racial and socialeconomical segregated schools and very lo w graduation rates (Holzman, 2006; The Schott Foundation, 2008). Researchers have linked poor academic and social performance of American male students of African descent to lack of role models, low self-esteem, hopelessness, productivity dysfunction, and low expectations by the school, communities, and society at large. Despite the discussions that have occurred among educators, researchers, and community leaders regarding th e poor performances and failure s of these students, little meaningful efforts have been made toward a ddressing the core issues at a point where it would do the most good (Bailey & Paisley, 2004). Because a majority of the nations teacher s are white, it is almost certain that American male student of African descent will experience a dominance of white teachers during the course of their academic careers, yet little is known about the effectiveness of 115

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these white teachers teaching these students in the public school setting. Most white teachers are themselves products of school s systems with their own backgrounds and have not had an educational history that was racially diverse. However, background alone fails to adequately prepar e middle-class educators to work with children of color. Additional training is needed for these teache rs to cope with the misconceptions that often exist within their cultura l context. Middle-class white teachers may be ineffective working with American male students of Af rican descent as they may not understand the behavior and banter that is normal for these children and they may misinterpret it for what they perceive as hostil ity and aggression and they ma y act/react to these children based on these misinterpreted perceptions. E ducators handicap their school systems as a result of what little they know about Ameri can students of African descents development and socialization (Cooper, 2003; Frankenberg, 2006; Ladson-Billings, 2000; Murrell, 1994; Stearns & Glennie, 2006). Despite district pressures to raise standa rdized test scores and keep the dropout rates low to ensure that st udents graduate, there is evidence that suggests that schoolbased practices are responsible for the high dropout rate. In schools systems across the nation, a disproportionate number of American male students of African descent are expelled, suspended, and placed in special educational programs in numbers greater than their white peers (Foster, 1995). The practices of tracking, overcrowded classrooms, mislabeling of minority students, and high expulsion rates have added to the disproportionate dropout rate of minority students (Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2007; 116

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McKenzie & Scheurick, 2004; Weis et al., 1989). The political, economic, and sociological factors exist within schools are responsible for schools failing to promote and educate students (Murrell, 1994). School-based leaders determine the schools agenda in terms of programs, policy decisions, school climate, and who goes and w ho stays. In presenting the school-based leaders perspectives regarding American male students of African descent and their dropping out of their school, this research examined an important issue that impacts these students and society in general. To that end, this research provided an understanding of the perspectives of eight school-based lead ers regarding American male students of African descent and their dropping out of school. In describing how school-based leaders perceived American male students of African descent and their dropping out of their high school and the role they play in dr opout prevention, this research presented the voices of school-based leaders re garding this critical issue. Giving voice to the schoolbased leaders not only allowed them to shar e their perspectives of American male students of African descent and their dropping out of school, they were able to tell the story of the efforts they made to addr ess dropout prevention in their own words. Critical Race Theory: Theoretical Framework Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the theore tical frame that guided this qualitative study. Critical Race Theory scholars provide insight for explaining, not only, how race can be a factor effecting the dropout rate of American males of African descent, but also, how and why these students are treated as they are in U.S. schools. In this inquiry, I 117

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focused on the third theme of CRT, a commitment to social justice, to describe how key school-based leaders perceived American ma le students of African descent; why they dropped out of their high schoo l; their schools role in dropout prevention; and what they are doing to challenge these students from exiting school early and unprepared for life without a high school education. Using the so cial justice theme I describe the schoolbased leaders beliefs about American male students of Af rican descent; what reasons they believe are responsible for their dropping out of their school and what efforts have they made to prevent these chil dren dropping out of their school. Interpretation and Summa ry of the Findings The study found that the perspectives of the eight school-based leaders were influenced by their past histories with these students; their personal and acquired knowledge of these students, their families, and their communities; and their personal commitment to work with them. Their previous history with these students seems to have the greatest impact on their present level of support for these students. The analysis found that seven themes emerged from the eight participants responses that described their pe rspectives of American male student of African descent. These were related to: (1) the participants opinions and personal feelings toward the students; (2) student centere d issues; (3) role models: these included athletes, entertainers, and negative figur es in the community); (4) family issues and concerns; (5) peers; (6) community and soci etal concerns; and (7) School and education/teacher related issues 118

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School-based leaders, as a whole, were unable to articulate th e drop-out rate of the American males of African descent at thei r school as they were largely uniformed of the actual dropout rate. Four themes identi fied related to the efforts the school-based leaders made to prevent this cohort of students from dropping out of high school. These were: (1) direct administrative action; (2) specific dropout prevention programs; (3) improvements needed to address the problem ; (4) critiques of present practices. The school based leaders reported that the process they have in place to identify those students who are at risk of dropping out of school is the most significant role they play in drop-out prevention. Although several of the school-based leaders took it upon themselves to develop and maintain specific programs for at-risk students, there was no centrally controlled program or one sp ecified school-based leader who had the responsibility of coordinating a school-wide drop-out prev ention program for American male students of African descent. The study found that the participants re sponses, regarding what they thought necessary to keep American male students of African descent in school until graduation, fell within the following themes: (1) school centered, (2) community centered, and (3) family centered. The research questions that guided this st udy allowed me to present the voices of the school-based leaders regard ing their perspectives of w hy American male students of African descent drop out of school. The leaders presented their knowledge about these 119

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students, what efforts were made addre ssing these students dropping out of school, and their thoughts regardi ng drop out prevention. Research Question #1. What are school-b ased leaders perceptions of American male students of African descent and why they drop out of high school? Seven themes emerged from the eight par ticipants responses that described and explained their perceptions of American male students of African descent and why they dropped out of their high school. The seven th emes were related to: (1) the participants opinions and personal feelings toward the stude nts; (2) student centered issues; (3) role models: these included athletes, entertainers and negative figures in the community); (4) family issues and concerns; (5) peers; (6 ) community and societal concerns; and (7) School and education/teach er related issues Participants opinions and personal feelings toward the students The degree that the school-based leader s were willing to express their personal opinions and feelings about these students ranged from Ms. Adkins worry to Mr. Onleys believing that strong emotions like l ove, compassionate and discipline are appropriate when describing their perspectives. Mr. Iverson believed that he should have been stricter in dealing w ith these young men when he wo rked with them in middle school. Ms Avery perception regarding these students comes from her talking to them, living in their communities and attending their churches. She adds that her being married to an American male of African descent adds to her perspective that she considers to be adequate. The perspectives of the school-b ased leaders demonstrate they see these 120

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students differently to some degree. While they did not have a consensus, their perspectives reflected, at least to some degr ee, that they had given some thought to these students. Student Centered Issues Of the twenty data chunks coded in this category, nine were positive while eleven took a negative slant. Mr. R oberts thought of the students as individuals with a great deal of variety, and believed they we re just like any other group of students. He noted that he has worked with a wide variety of ra cial and socioeconomic groups. Ms Unger recognizes the strength and poten tial of the American male st udent of African descent to be a contributor to society if given th e opportunities and values from home, school, community, education and the church. Ms U nderwood sees some of these students as being motivated but believes more are will ing to accept the negative stereo type that believes the community expects of them. Mr. Irving sees them as having a different set of needs, more obstacles to over come, and the system needs to come up with different ways to educate them than the traditional approaches. In this category, some of the participants expressed concer ns regarding the students having a mountain of personal issues, their looking for something free, their criminal reco rds and their having baggage that other students do not have. Role Models Role models seemed to be the categor y that the participants had consensus regarding the potential to impact their dropp ing out of school. Ms Avery noted that the 121

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people that these kids idolize are not always the best role models. Ms Adkins believed the students were falling behind academically due to the lack of positive role models to look up to. Mr. Roberts said the students look up to the rap artist, entertainers, and athletes who make a lot of money. Family Issues and Concerns All of the participants also seemed to have a consensus regarding the impact of the family on the student dropping out of school. All but Mr. Onley be lieved that either the single parent family, being reared by surrogate parents or older siblings, poor parenting, lack of father figure in the home young age of the parents assigned the parents primary responsibility for the students dr opping out of school. Ms Underwood insisted that mothers having multiple children with mu ltiple fathers, with no positive male in the home, was a factor in these students dropping out of school. Mr. Onley saw it differently. He stated he would tell parents ...quit beat ing yourself up There is no question you love your child. And yes I, see your tears I, hear what you are saying you simply didnt have all the answers to all the questi ons, and thats not your fault. Peers Nearly all of the participants also touc hed on the influence of the students peers at some point during the interview. Their collective perceptions recognize the influence of peers. Mr. Iverson saw peer pressure as being responsible for fights having youth take the rap for some they did not do rather th an snitch. Ms Underwood believed that student peer pressure made some stude nts dummy down instead of excelling 122

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academically. Mr. Onley indicated that peer pressure was a difficult force for students to break. Community and Societal Concerns Community and societal concer ns were expressed in the responses of most of the participants. Mr. Roberts recognized a public percepti on of these students that stereotyped them as performing below average as a group. Mr. Iverson saw school as a safe haven from the environment from which they came. He believes that the lessons learned in the environment sometimes conflict with appropriate school behavior. Mr. Irving noted that many students are generally perceived to be at risk. I believe that if you looked at them from a larger perspective, some people who call them at-risk, not necessari ly a, term that I would use, but that is the term that is pe rceived. Males in gene ral, probably would be considered at-risk in schools. Mr. Onley perspective is that theyre very hungry for knowledge and thirsty for education, but the environmental conflicts impact upon these students. School and Education/Teacher Related Issues The impact of school and education/teacher related issues were recognized in a variety of comments. Ms Adkins perception was that there is a lack of positive role models that are American male of African descent in the school system. Mr. Onley points to the lack of articulation between elem entary to middle, and middle to high school that properly identifies students ear ly on as being a real problem. 123

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All of the participants indi cated that their personal know ledge of these students, to some degree, was based in their working with them in the school sy stem. In addition, all of the participants, except one, said thei r knowledge was based on personal experiences with these students that exte nded into their homes, family, churches, and neighborhood to some degree. Several of the participants i ndicated they had lived in neighborhoods that were predominately Americans of African desc ent or a mixture of races. Some had lived in these neighbors as a result of their familys socio-economic status. One of the participants indicated that they had married an American of African decent, lives in that community and attends a church in that commun ity as a result of the marriage. Another participant said that he had visited the comm unity and had gone to their churches only on special occasions when he had been invited. One participan t revealed that her knowledge of these students was limited to her school contacts as a guidance counselor. The following exchange illustrates this: Question How did you acquire your knowledge of these students, their lives, their histories, communities, etc.? Ms Underwood Through personal experience being a high school guidance counselor in an inner city school with a majority population that [is] African Americans, I see it everyday. Probe; Have you had the opportunity to go into their homes, their churches and their communities? Ms Underwood No. Probe: So your primary contact has been in school? Ms Underwood In school, absolutely. The perspectives of the school-based lead ers are reflected in their individual backgrounds and the experiences they have ha d with American male students of African 124

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descent. Six of the participants indicated th at they live or have lived in neighbors with Americans of African descent. Seven have had some involvement in the communities of these students. All of the participants have worked with these students. The participants have worked in various capacities in the educ ational system and one indicated he worked in a Department of Juvenile Justice facility. Only one of the participants experiences Figure 5.1 How Perspectives of School Based-Leaders Were Gained Lived in neighborhood: Mr. Irving Mr. Onley Ms Adkins Ms Unger Ms Avery Mr. Iverson Community experience Mr. Irving Mr. Onley Ms Adkins Ms Unger Ms Avery Mr. Iverson Mr. Roberts Work Experience Mr. Irving Mr. Onley Ms Adkins Ms Unger Ms Avery Mr. Iverson Mr. Roberts Ms. Underwood are limited to the work place. Ms Underwood said her experiences are limited to school. Research Question #2. Are the school-based leaders aw are of the dropout rate of American male students of Afri can descent? What efforts are being made to address these students dropping out of high school? None of the school based leaders knew th e exact dropout figure for their school. When answering the specific question Are you aware of th e dropout rate of American males of African descent in your sch ool? They responded as follows: Mr. Iverson: Not at this point Probe: If you had to gauge [the dropout rate] would you say its high, medium, or low? Mr. Iverson: I would say based on our population its high. 125

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Mr. Irving: The number? Probably not I couldnt quote the number, no. Probe: If you generally, had to say, would you say that its low, medium, or high? Mr. Irving: Id probably go for medium at this point. But it might be leaning towards high, thats an outside possibility. Mr. Onley: That has been a real focal point. Matter of fact, I went to a meeting last week, where the region, the state is redefining what a true dropout is. And so, probably my word is a just little bit keener right now that someone elses. But [yes], I am very familiar with the dropout rate. Probe: Are you aware if its high, low, medium? Mr. Onley: I can only go with what I heard recen tly. Our dropout rate is right in the mean of the district. Which to me is extremely good, because we are not at risk students. So, to me we must be doing something right. If it was at the lower quartile, you know when I look at [school] dropout rate versus other inner city at risk schools. We got them beat. Mr. Roberts: I'm aware that the dropout rate is high among that group compared to some other groups. I don't know the exact number at this point. Ms Adkins: I dont have any exact numbers in my school, I know nationwide its extremely high. Probe: If you had to characterize the dropout rate at your school, would you say its low, medium, or high? Ms Adkins: For my school, I would say low. Ms Avery: Yes, I am, and I cant tell you what it is right now but we do look at it especially since our dropout rate as a whol e is now tied to our school grade. Its becoming very, very important whether theyre African-American or not, every dropout is becoming important. Ms Underwood: I cant give you what the numbers are. But I know its a social and academic concern. Ms Unger: I am. At this very moment, in term s of the percentage, I definitely cant say above a ten. Im having to quote08-09 school year, its definitely below 10% at this school. Because I must say the one thing we do is put forth every effort we can possibly can to keep our youth. Not only the African American male, the emphasis on [them] because thats who we loose thats the greatest population that tends 126

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Figure 5.2 Knowledge of their Schools Dropout Rate High Mr. Iverson (guessed) Medium Mr. Irving (guessed) Low Ms Adkins (guessed) Not Known Mr. Iverson Mr. Roberts Ms Adkins Ms Avery Ms Underwood Mr. Irving guessed that the dropout rate was medium leaning toward high. Mr. Mr. Onley: stated he was familiar with the dropout rate because he was recently at a meeting where the region, the state was rede fining dropouts and this schools dropout rate is at the mean of the district. Several of the school-based leaders indicated they were aware of the dropout rate and even noted that they did talk about it as a group. It seems that their discussions of the dropout rate did not include the specific figures for the American males of African descent. Four themes were identified in the participants responses that were related to the efforts made to address American male stude nts of African descen t dropping out of high school. The themes were not found in all of the participants responses but are broad enough to be inclusive in a majority of th eir responses. The themes found in the responses were: (1) direct administrative action; (2) specific dropout prevention programs; (3) improvements needed to addres s the problem; (4) cr itiques of present practices. 127

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Direct administrative action The administration was seen as taking a pr oactive role by talking about it quite a bit; identifying potenti al dropouts, providing mentoring and counseling; meeting with them and their parents to ta lk about their options; and ha ving them sign a behavioral agreement when warranted. Two of the administrators created mentoring programs, one for boys and the other for girls. Different clubs were created to enhance self esteem and peer facilitation, they scheduled motivational speakers to talk with students to inspire them, give them a sense of hope and the opportunity to see successful individuals. One administrator is working toward securing a bus to take students hom e who participate in the afterschool tutoring program The administration has created a policy that requires that students with attendance or discipline issues to automatically go through guidance before they register. The principal said that all administrators will be asked to work with students who are potential dr opouts by meeting with them once a month, reviewing bad grades, building relationships a nd being there to assist them. A participant pointed out that the school targets at-ris k students in general and didnt know if the response to American ma les of African descent was any different. Another participant seems to think the emphasis is on the American male students of African descent because they are the ones who mostly drop out. Several of these school-based administrators are involved in personal efforts to address students dropping out of school. The administrators have taken it upon themselves to create mentoring programs that address boy and girl. One of the 128

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administrators indicated at risk youth were targeted and not necessa rily American male students of African the descent, another i ndicated that the progr ams benefited these specific youth because they were mostly the ones who dropped out. Specific dropout prevention programs ; The participants stated that specific dropout prevention programs include: (1) disciplinary programs inclusive of In School Suspension (ISS), Out of School Suspension (OSS), and Alternative to Out of School Suspension (ATOSS); (2) A tutoring program in place that targets male students based on attendance, grades, and grade point average; (3) Gear Up Program is a grant that target s minority students and provide afterschool tutoring programs, community service, plus ot her things. This program and Project Shine are for all minority students; (4) Credit Recove ry that allows student s to make up credits at a quicker pace on line; (5) Impact Program is for children at-risk of not graduating and are a year behind. The students attend full time and are given a chance to make up their classes so that they can graduate on time with their class. According to the participant, Impact is not a dropout prevention program but is under the umbre lla; (6) Educational Talent Search Program (CROP) that targets at-risk youth to help them become successful in completing high school; (7) [State] Vi rtual; (8) The Extende d Learning Program allows students to go to the Media Center for online classes and receive after school tutoring in any subject; and (9) Under-age GED Program. One participant stated they are working on creating an afterschool adult education program th at would allow the students to make up classes they failed in the first semester. 129

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Improvements needed to address the problem That school-based leaders have not followed through with plans to address dropouts was seen as an area of concern. A participant said that they wanted to do something about the problem and strategies are developed, however, there was no follow through. The reason given was they just got worn down as the year progressed because it was hard to maintain the momentum due to the many issues going on that the focus shifted elsewhere. It was commented that the right things need to be done and strong leadership is needed to make the system change. One participant indicated that the administration is not doing enough but they are doing what they could. Critique of present practices The participant responses were open in the critique of present practices to address these students dropping out of school It was stated that they talk about the issue but a plan of action is not developed to address th e problem. One participant noted that the decision makers do not listen to those in th e trenches because they veto plans that require work on their part may have probl ems with the community because they dont want to upset parents. One participant said that the school systems will never change unless administrators have a belief system that wants to make the changes. It was expressed that not all of the school-based leaders r ecognized the importance of addressing dropouts or dealing wi th dropout prevention. One believed that more could be done and the leadership needs to take more of an active role. One comment was that it was not known if anything is being done to e nhance students needs to connect to school. 130

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Still another said that they would like to sa y that something is be ing done but cant think of anything specific. Participants stated that a male at-risk group is run by a male administrator of African descen t and a female at-risk group is run by an American female of African descent on their own initiative. One of the participants indicated that they thought the biggest obstacle was getting the school to actually incorporate some of the programs that they thought would be more beneficial to the students. The data reveal that the school-based leaders are not aware of the actual dropout rates of the Americans of African descent in that school. When they were asked to guess the rates they provided different answers. Th ey indicated that they talk about the dropout rates; however, they seem to be doing so w ithout actual numbers that indicate the extent of the problem. They also appear to be a lack of consensus is regard ing the extent of the school-based leaders efforts to address th ese students dropping out of school. They recognize the efforts of certain individuals but they dont agree that the problem is being addressed as a team. The noted that they talked about the problem but nothing was done to address it as a unit. One participant indicated that the ad ministrators would be required this year to work with a certain number of students on a regular basis as a means of keeping students in school. Research Question # 3. What role has sc hool-based leaders played in preventing American male students of African descent from dropping out of school? The school based leaders believe that the most significant role they play in prevention is the process they have in place to identify those students who are at-risk of 131

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dropping out of high school. All of the participants seemed to be aware and capable of identifying the procedures they used that id entified those students coming from middle school and those in their school who were at-risk and potential dropouts. The participants stated that th e assistant principals and gui dance counselors review the records of every incoming middle school st udent, in the summer, focusing on their previous academic performance (that incl udes their test scores and GPA), their attendance, and discipline reco rds. It was pointed out that they dont specifically target any one group of students but the majority of the over-aged populat ion coming from the eighth grade that should have been in high school two years earlier are American males of African descent. The areas that look at are: attendance, discipline, number of credits, and grade point average. They believe that th ese factors provide insight into the potential of a student becoming a dropout. Research Question # 4. What is needed to keep Ameri can male students of African descent in school until graduation? The participants identified three themes in addressing what is needed to keep American male students of African descent in school until graduation. These themes were: (1) school centered, (2) community centered, and (3) family centered. School Centered The participants suggested that school administrators can do the following to prevent these students from dropping out of school: increase the number of trained counselors to provide counseling for these st udents; ; have smaller counselor case loads 132

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for a manageable student-to-c ounselor ratio that would a llow for innovation; increase mentoring programs in the school; increase the vi sibility of minority males in positions of authority; hire more minorities as role models that reflect success; programs that provide early intervention with families to level the playing field; expand dropout prevention programs; provide manpower to chase the kids down who arent in school; create positive ways for students to connect to school by pr oviding attractive courses that interest them; create more vocational schools and vocational programs; institute year round programs for students; daytime work programs for stude nts that allow them to make money and earn credits that counts toward graduation; teach students to love themselves and give them the same chances and opportunities that are available for other students; change the educators perceptions that are tied to nega tive stereotypes of these children; put up information tents at football games and give something away free in order to increase participation; use money and food as incentives to get them invol ved with the school; institute programs that dont re quire a lot of money; and scho ols need to go the route of science technology. One participant pointed out that schools pump money into advanced placement and honors classes, and they believe that m oney should be pumped into programs that address the needs of at-risk students as th eir reading and math skills are not on grade level. Another participant added that th e administration should find another way to address students dropping out even if it might mean their working a couple more hours a day if the benefit outweighs the amount of time they would be put into it. Another 133

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expressed that educators are needed who can tr uly meet the needs of todays children and teachers who teach these children should be those who really want to teach. These students need to know if youre no-nonsense and care about what happens to them, children can see th rough pretend. The participants stated that teachers need more intensive reading strategies and better reading programs. Also; more cultural sensitivity training is needed for teachers as white middle class teachers need to know how to be more sensitive to other cultures. It is believed that teaching developing a personal relationship with th ese students is the biggest thing they need to do a better job. This relationship can be the most effective prevention tool that they have in working with these children. It is believed that teachers need to stand up and set an example, as st udents need to know if youre no-nonsense and care about what happens to them, children can see through pretend. Community Centered The participants believes that community centered resources can prevent these students from dropping out of school. These in clude: churches having a larger role in providing after school study space, mentoring pr ograms, and tutoring sessions to assist potential dropouts. It was also expressed that the students need a place to go 24/7 to take online classes to catch-up on work, and to have access to the internet. The Boys Club or other community organization was recommended as a place they can go to sit and work. An advantage was also seen if the community, school, family and society mesh together to do something about the problem. 134

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Family Centered The participants saw family support as being essential but some of these children have no support from a family who themse lves may not have experienced success in school. In the summer, some children dont ha ve summer jobs and theres no ones home to make them read. More parental involvement with the student in school is needed and at least one participan t expresses that recommendation th at parents should be forced to participate with their childs school. It was noted that some parents were uncomfortable with school and they dont want to visit. This may be because some parents have not completed high school and therefore see litt le value in their children completing high school. It was also pointed out that the parent may lack certain skills and is in need of help themselves, according to a participant. A first step might be having a dialogue with them so they can tell us what we re doing wrong, how we can help you. Recommendations for Social Change In this inquiry, the third theme of CRT, a commitment to social justice, is the theoretical frame that guides this study. For this research, I defined social justice as the extent to which the school-based leaders are working toward creating a school climate where all students receive equitable and fair treatment without regard for their race, sex, gender, or national orientation. The school-based leaders atti tude is a factor in the success or failure of American male students of African des cent in the school setting. Th e discriminatory practices 135

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within our nation's schools target Ameri can male students of African descent and negatively impact upon their academic performances. Gordon, et, al (1994) referenced studies th at showed that some teachers in the U.S. have few expectations of American male students of African descent in general and even lower expectations of those who are nonsubmissive and independent. According to these researchers, the implementation of sc hool disciplinary policies demonstrates the disproportionate and negative impact thes e policies have had on these students opportunities to learn. American male students of African descent respond to these policies by: (1) developing nega tive attitudes toward their educational experiences; (2) experiencing higher levels of conflict with in school; (3) exhib iting anti-authoritarian behavior; and (4) expressi ng attitudes which negatively affect their academic achievement. While these students may have a lower level of academic self-concept, these same students may not have a lower se lf-concept in other areas of their lives (Gordon, et. al, 1994). According to Dorn (1996), the dropout problem as a byproduct of dysfunction of school systems and extent of dr op out problem is the result of timid public officials and school administrators not being willing to address the issue. Dorn believes that education is the right of all citizens and the dropout rate is evidence that schools are failing to guarantee that certain stude nts rights are protected (Dorn, 1996). The social justice aspect of the perspectiv es of the school-based leaders is reflected in the participants statements regarding th eir being aware of the impact of these boys race, race related or racial concerns. Ms Avery believes th at as a whole, teachers are 136

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good with minority students, but then she a dded to say that all of our teachers are perfect, no and that there are some teach ers who should not be in Title I schools, indicates to me that the issues some teach ers are with some students may be based on race. She notes that the school is Title I wh ich has a percentage of low socio-economic students. She also noted that the racial make-up is one th ird black, one third white and one third Hispanic. Being a white female, causes students to ques tion her understanding of them and their world, but once the student gets to know her then they start to trust her. It appears that her perceptions allow her to address the issue of race because of her understanding and knowledge of these students and who they are. Ms Underwood believes that her social co nscious allows her to recognize the relevance of the numbers of Americans of African descent who are incarcerated. Her position that this is a social issue, more th an academics, and that they we cant preach morality seem to take her off the hook of ha ving a responsibility to deal with social issues with these students. It appears that her willingness to take her self out of the equation allows her to see the problem from the safe vantage point of an outsider. Mr. Iverson shares the jail st atistics with these student s and involves himself with trying to get them to vision their futures consis tently and said that he has made progress. He also stated that he has talked with them regarding the consequences of the way they looked and presented themselves when they apply for jobs. He focuses on their hairstyle and dress. He works with a couple of groups and has referred 10 students for the tutoring program. 137

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Mr. Onley recognizes that these boys are different because of the baggage and their unique struggles in the world and they have different rules and values. He is of the opinion that the administration needs to have and understanding of these boys and send a consistent message. He believes people n eed to understand these boys point of view and be willing to tell their story. He works with the teachers to see the human side of these boys and be sensitive to the world as they see it and not over react to the boys language. Mr. Irving, Hispanic male, sees his position as being an advocate for the students. This sometimes puts him at odds w ith the administration as he sees the job responsibilities of the positions as presenting wh at he refers to as an ethical dilemma. He sees the administrations responsibility to advocate for the school and his responsibility to advocate for the students as being at the center of the dilemma. He also believes that there are two sets of rules that ex ist in the school. He notes that the affluent parents have the most power and weight. Mr. Roberts noted that he has worked w ith students from all racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds successfully. He stated that peoples perceptions come from attitudes that people have developed ove r a period of time. He recognizes that people are born with prejudices and everyone ha s biases, to some extent, but some more than others. He stated that some of the perception that the majority of population has developed about American male students of Af rican descent comes from pop-culture. He also notes that there may be some resent ment from established people regarding the 138

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success of ethnic groups. He also indicated that teachers may say some discouraging things to students that are not encourag ing; and students may drop out frustrated. Ms Adkins recognizes that some childr en are perceived by teachers as being thuggish and thugs because of th eir hairstyle and their manner of dress. She talks to students about others perceptions of them a nd because of the hair and dress American male students of African descent have to prove that they are smart and capable of completing their work. She noted that some teachers can be antagonistic which causes the students to fight back when backed into a corner and the end result is that the child is suspended which means that he is not getti ng the instruction he needs and he winds up failing the class and getting further and furthe r behind. She added that if the teacher is not willing to work with the American male students of African descent as though he was her child, the child gives up because he f eels the teacher does not care about him. She believes that the climate in the school the attitudes of some teachers and of some administrators need to be worked on. Reportedly, diversity tr aining is needed, and she added that the district offered diversity workshops, at one time, to address some of the issues. She is uncerta in if these workshops are currently being offered. According to Ms Unger she takes a proactiv e role in working with these students and talks with them and encourages them to take challenging classes. Ms Unger thinks that we dont listen to use enough, and we need to dialogue with dropouts to find out whats motivating them to leave. 139

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The school-based leaders responses varie d. Most recognized that the American male students of African descent did have probl ems in the school setting. Several of the participants indicated that their dress and ha irstyles was an issue for others. Often the student had to prove that he was smart and cap able of satisfactory academic performance. It seemed that how the students were perceive d by other is an issue more so that the student themselves. In recommending that th e staff needs diversity training leads me to believe that staff dealing with these boys may be an issue. Mr. Onley seems to echo this when he talked about his working with the teachers to see these boys as they are with their unique set of issues. Most of the part icipants seem to address these boys from a social justice perspective in that they were proactive and demonstrat ed their working with these in a fair and consistent manner. This is not to say that any of the participants were not, but in certain participants their advocacy for social jus tice came across very strong in the interviews. Teachers and school-based administrators mu st be sensitive to the emotional and development needs of their American male st udents of African descent. White teachers must be aware of the potential impact that a negative presence can have on the psyche of American male students of African descen t (Ladson-Billings, 2000). They should be cognizant of the potential harm that it can have especially to those young Black male students in the early grades and make all possible efforts to create environments that are conducive to their learning. If teachers wo rk to provide the positive experiences for 140

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American male students of African descent as they began their school careers, these students will stay in schools longer. Recommendations The school-based leaders at the high school like their counter parts across the country, are charged with the responsibility of educating all of th e children with their preview. And like their counter parts, nationwide, they feel they are working toward that end. This research allowed me to enter th eir school and intervie w eight of the school based leaders to describe thei r perspectives American male students of African descent, why they drop out of their high school and th eir role in preventing these students from leaving school early unprepared for post high school life. The inte rviews produced data that gave me valuable insight into their pe rspectives, thoughts and the efforts they made and are making to address this very critical pr oblem. As a result of my research there are several recommendation that I am making that I hope will add to the work they are doing. The data revealed that only one of th e school based leaders knew the schools dropout rate of the American male students of African descent. One of the protocol questions asked about their bei ng aware of their dropout rate. Each said they were aware but each had a different answer. When I asked them to make a guess about the dropout rate, their answers varied. Wh ile one of the participants o ffered to get it to me because she did not want to give a wrong figure, no one gave an actual figur e. One participant indicated that he had gone to a meeting and knew that the dropout rate was above the medium for the district. I viewed this as a corr ect answer. They indica ted that they talked 141

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about the dropout rate. I think that not just th e school based leaders, but the entire school family should know what the dropout rates are for all categories of students. Knowing the dropout rate can be a beginning point for ac tion for the administration team to address this problem. The data showed that several of the school-based leaders have taken it upon themselves to start programs to work with at -risk children. The prin cipal indicated that a program should begin where teachers who apply for performance pay and the school based-leaders will be required to work with eight at-risk students which should greatly expand the number of students that will have frequently contact with some adult. In Chapter 4 the participants recommendations for the type of services they think are needed are listed. The recommendations were made for the school, community and family. The recommendation that I believe is ap propriate at this point is for the school to take the lead to convene repr esentatives from each of those areas plus the courts, social services and churches and plan to comprehe nsively address the dropout rate of American males of African descent. Implications for Practice Bailey and Paisley (2004) found that a lthough educators, researchers, and community leaders have discussed the poor pe rformances and failures of these students, with a few exceptions, little meaningful effo rts have been made toward addressing the core issues at a point where it would do the most good (Bailey & Paisley, 2004). The schoolbased leaders, in this research, re vealed they are conc erned about the dropout 142

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rates of American male students of African descent and want to do something about it. They said that they have talked about it. But have not followed through by planning, developing specific strategies to address the issue as a team. One reason given was as the school progresses, its difficult to maintain a momentum and because of the many issues going on, the focus shifted elsewhere. If the sc hool-based leaders are to expect success in addressing the dropout problem in their school, they must show a willingness or ability to take initiatives toward finding solutions to ensure the success of any school program (Kammoun, 1991). Setting specific times for the team to meet to strategize and assign responsibility for implementation would allow them to advance beyond the talking stage. Many students decide by the eight grade to leave school but they just mark time until they finally leave (Wolk, 2009); which is between the 10th and 12th grades in high school (Lee & Burkam, 2003). Structural components in schools are seen being responsible for students leaving school (S tearns & Glennie, 2006; Hale, & Stressman, 2007; Bridgeland, DiIulio, & Wulsin, 2008; Ca rpenter & Ramirez, 2007; and Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson (2007). This research found that the sc hool-based leaders identify similar factors that put children at risk of leaving school early. They agree that attendance, grade point average, number of credits earned, discipline history and their feeling connected to the school are indicators of a students success or failure in school. Some of the participants said that funds could be found for programs for honors and gifted children, then why not find funds a nd create programs for the at-risk student? It seems that the team approach works well and there were comment s regarding new staff 143

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that were hired and possibly new ideas are forthcoming. I think that the school, the community, the at-risk, the potential at-risk and the dropout would benefit from a team effort to plan programs, with the i ndividuals assigned the responsibility of implementation of the strategies. Reeves (2006) found student failure can be reversed when school-based leaders plan for success through: (1) early, frequent and decisive intervention; (2) personal connection with struggling stude nts: (3) proactive parental connections; (4) personal and electronic tutoring; (5) managing student choices with deci sive curriculum interventions; and (6) in-school assistance (Reeves, 2006). Implications for Training Political, economic, and sociological f actors within schools are responsible for schools failing to promote and educate students because educators handicap their school systems as a result of what little they know about American students of African descents development and socialization. Without additional training to cope with the misconceptions that often exists within their cultural context, middle-class wh ite teachers may be ine ffective working with American male students of African des cent (Ladson-Billings 2000; Murrell, 1994; Stearns & Glennie, 2006). White teachers need to understand what is normal behavior for these children as most have not ha d a racially diverse educational history (Frankenberg, 2006). It was reported that th e school district had offered diversity training for educators in the past Given the recognition of the nature of inherent bias in 144

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individuals in general; some teachers having issues dealing with the hair, dress and language of American males of African des cent; and that some re lation concerns with these students, more of this type of training is needed. Danielson (2002) believes th at educators must change their attitudes toward American male students of African descent as their beliefs influence their behavior toward these students. If educators believe that Americ an male students of African descent are incapable of perfor ming at higher academic levels a nd they accept this belief as fact they will not make an effort towa rd providing a quality educational experience that will surely make a difference in the lives of those American male students of African descent they have the responsibility of educa ting. If teachers work to provide the positive experiences for American male students of African descent as they began their school careers, these students will stay. Recommendation for future study This research described the perspectives eight school-based l eaders of American male students of African descent, why they drop out of their high school, their role in dropout prevention, and what efforts were made to prevent these st udents from leaving school early unprepared for post high school life. The school di strict required that only volunteers could participat e in the study. Of the initial list of individuals that I preferred, only nine volunteered and of the nine one person declined after they found out the interview would be audio-recorded. While the interviews provided rich descriptions from the eight volunteer participants I can only imagine how much the data would have been 145

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enhanced if the study had incl uded all of the school-based leaders who are involved in any aspect of dropout prevention in the school The eight perspect ives reflected the perceptions of eight very di fferent and unique individuals with differences spanned the spectrum of age, ethnicity, experiences, and sex. In the future, a similar study that can controls for the participants would add to the knowledge in terms of an examination of the perspectives of different groups. The researcher could answer the question if the race or sex of the school based leader had an imp act on the dropout rate of American males of African descent. Epilogue This research examined the perspectives of eight school-based leaders regarding American males of African descent; thes e students dropping out of school; and what efforts the school-based leaders made to pr event these students from dropping out of school. At the onset of the research I was excited about the resear ch topic and my hope was to produce findings that would assist th e efforts to prevent American male students of African descent from dropping out of school unprepared to meet the demands a life without a high school education. The focus of this research was to examine what I believed to be an important problem from th e perspectives of school-based leaders who are in a position to initiate solutions and pr event these students from dropping out of high school.. The research design involved in my interviewing school based leaders using a fixed protocol. Data for the analysis was colle cted from the transcripts of the interviews 146

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and the reflective journal I maintained. In retrospect, I believ e the design of this qualitative study was adequate, however, one issue I encountered had an impact on both the collection of data and the subsequent analysis. As a condition for granting approval of the study, the school distri ct required that I only use volunteer participants for the study. In the planning stage, I met with th e principal and identif ied fifteen potential people that appeared to have had some role in working with at risk st udents in the school. Because of the volunteer restriction, only nine people originally volunteered to participate in the study. Later, as the interview was about to start, one person withdrew their participation when they learned the intervie w would be audio-reco rded; this left the remaining eight study participants. It is my belie f that if all fifteen in dividuals, that were originally identified, had participated in the study, the additional data sources would have enriched the analysis and findings. The ninth volunteer, who decided not to participate, had been recommended by severa l individuals because of th is persons extensive work with at-risk populations in th e school. The individual did no t offer other any reason for not wanting to participate and I respected that decision to not anticipate. I can not help but think that the knowledge this person po ssessed would have added to the research database. I believe that by the school district s restriction of my using only volunteers for this study not only restricted the number of pot ential participants that could have been available, it also impacted amount of data th at could have been collected from each of the potential participants. 147

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Although this research took on a complex topic in examining the perspectives of the eight school-based leaders regarding Amer ican males of African descent, the data collected in the interviews and from the re flective journal allowed me to gain insights into their perspectives of these students. Th e school-based leaders themselves were very forthright with their responses and in seve ral cases, their passion and commitment to working with these young men were clearly discer nible. At the onset of each interview I ensured the participants comp lete anonymity and I was will ing to go to any length to insure that with each of the participants. Being aware of the potential for researcher bias in qualitative research, I wanted to limit my biases to the extent that I coul d. When I began the interviews, my intent was to: (1) maintain an open minded stance where I would not interfere with the flow of information from the participan ts during the interview; (2) be cognizant of my biases and try not to allow them to influence the part icipants responses; and (3) not interject my prior knowledge, thoughts, and feelings duri ng the interviews in such a manner that would cause any of the participants to change hesitate to answer, or reconsider any of their responses: I approached the interviews continually re minding myself that I did not know this person. I was careful to listen to the part icipants words and when I had questions, I would explore them with the participants to check out the accuracy of my questions. My thinking was of the importance of the accur acy of the participants responses to the questions and my follow-up probes. I placed value on the individual and the individuals 148

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point of view. As I conducted the intervie ws, I encouraged participant responses by giving them time to answer th e questions and the follow-up pr obes. The interviews were approached with my realizing that there were no right or wrong answers when the participants talked about thei r own perspectives and I must respect their opinions without arguing or debating their perspectives. Through the years, it has been critical fo r me to work toward knowing myself and recognizing my own hot button issues through guided experien tial training that expanded my knowledge, skills, and ability to ad dress these interpersonal issues. In my training as a social worker a nd with the training offered by th e state of Virginia, I spent years working on my personal growth. Much of this training invol ved my addressing my biases as they influenced my interactions with people. I have received training as a family counselor, mediator, and supervisor. As a result of the years of training I received, I am aware of my biases and how they impact me and my decision-making processes. During the course of the interviews, I wa s aware of an instance that my bias would have impacted my responses had I not co nsciously address the is sue. It occurred when one of the participants began maki ng judgments about the students and their mothers having a lot of babies by a lot of different men. I permitted the participant to discuss her thoughts while not injecting my thoughts or making value judgments about her statements. 149

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At the end of the interviews, I was overall pleased with the data that I obtained and my October 2, 2009, reflective jour nal entry made note of the following observations: all of the participants were very different. They were different in who they were, their backgrounds, their degrees of unders tanding, their histories with this group of students and they were different in how they absorbed and regurgitated information about the students. I seemed to be taken by the differences of the individual participants as they related their percepti ons of the students and their droppi ng out of their school. As I analyzed the transcripts I came to understand th at these differences may the difference in time so the participants perspectives of thes e American male students of African descent. For several of the participants my notes in the reflective journal referred to them as being, passionate, very concerned about these students, very knowledgeable and compassionate. In several of the participants then appeared to be a very strong sense of social justice in dea ling with these young men. As a result of my completing this resear ch, my respect for qualitative research and the process of conducting a quali tative research study was greatly enhanced. I think that my willingness to ensure the accuracy of the da tabase (the accuracy of the transcriptions) permitted me to accurately capture the words of the participants thus, impacting the data analysis. The knowledge that I gained for the process of transcribing audio-tapes was invaluable. As a by-product, I developed a fa scination of the difference between ordinary spoken conversation and the tran scription of ordinary conve rsation. The difference is 150

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remarkable and as a result, my verbal, listening, and transcription skil ls were increased as a result of this research. Because of my own life experiences I am aware that climbing lifes mountain, as an American male of African descent, is a steep, difficult, tre acherous, complex, and sometimes deadly proposition. One reason fo r this reality is that the myriad of consequences and sanctions that I, and ot hers like me, face are simply not availed on others in this society. CRT indicates that those same fact ors that exist in society are responsible for the high dropout rates of American males of African descent in schools. Researchers (Lee & Burkam, 2003; Danielson, 2002) indicated that the high rate of American male students of African descent dropping out of school can be explained by looking at factors within schools. It does matter how these children are seen in schools. This research has shown me that there are passionate, compassionate, and caring schoolbased leaders whose perspectiv es of American male stude nts of African descent are directly related to their, knowledge, experience, and histories with these students 151

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References Anafara, V., Brown, K. & Mangione, T. (2002) Qualitative analysis on stage: making the research process more public. Educational Researcher 31, 7, 28-38. Alliance for Excellent Education (2008). The high cost of high school dropout. (June, 2008). Retrieved October 15, 2008, from www.all4ed.org Bailey, D., & Paisley, P. (2004). Developi ng and nurturing excellence in African American male adolescents. Journal of Counseling and Development, 82, 10-17. Barnes, A. (1992). Retention of African-American males in high school: A study of African-American high school dropouts, African-American male seniors and White male seniors. Lantham, Maryland: University Press of America, Inc. Barzee, S. (2008). The school experiences and achievement of Black males: The voice of the students Unpublished doctoral dissertat ion, Andrews University, MI. Bridgeland, J., DiIulio J. & Wulsin, S. (2008). Engaged for success: Service learning as a tool for high school dropout prevention. A report by Civic Enterprises in association with Peter D. Hart Asso ciates for the National Conference on Citizenship, April 2008. Bridgeland, J., Dilulio, J. & Balfanz, R. (2009). On the frontlines of schools: Perspectives of teachers and principals on the high school dropout problem A report by Civic Enterprises in association with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the AT&T Foundation and the Americas Promise Alliance, June 2009. 152

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Bridgeland, J., Dilulio, J. & Balfanz, R. (2009). The high school dropout problem: Perspectives of teachers and pr incipals. Condensed report from On the frontlines of schools: Perspectives of teachers and principals on the high school dropout problem A report by Civic Enterprises in associ ation with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the AT&T Foundation and the Americas Promise Alliance, June 2009. Brown, J. (2003). In their own words: A phenomenological investigation of lived experiences of selected African American male early school leavers in Washington, DC. Unpublished doctoral dissert ation, Morgan State University, Md. Carpenter, D. & Ramirez, A. (2007). More than one gap: Dropout rate gaps between and among Black, Hispanic, and White students. Journal of Advanced Academics 19, 1, p. 32-64. Carroll, T. (2008). Educati on beats incarceration. Education Week, March 26, 2008. Caton, M. (2005). Reconnecting to the educational pi peline: Black males perspectives. (Doctoral dissertation, New York University, 2005). Dissertation Abstracts International, 66/02, 419. Children's Defense Fund (2005). The State of America's Children, 2005. Christle, C., Jolivette, K. & Nelson, C. ( 2007). School characteris tics related to high school dropout rates. Remedial and Special Education, 28, 325-339. 153

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Clark, P. (2004). Students views on connecting with school. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Indiana University, Indianapolis. Cooper, P. (2003). Effective white teacher s of black children: Teaching within a community. Journal of Teacher Education 54, 5, 413-427. Creswell, J (2007). Qualitative inquiry and resear ch design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousands Oaks: Ca. Crowder, K., & South, S. (2003). Neighbor distress and school dropout: The variable significance of community concept. Social Science Research 32, 659-698. Danielson, C., (2002). Enhancing Student Achievement: A Framework for School Improvement. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Alexander, Va. Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). New standards and old inequalities: School reform and the education of African-American students. The Journal of Negro Education 69, 4, p. 263-287. Davis, J. (2006). Research at the margin: Mapping masculinity and mobility of AfricanAmerican high school dropouts. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 19, 3, 289-304. DeCuir, J. & Dixson, A. (2004). "So when it comes out, they aren't that surprised that it is there": Using critical race theory as the tool of analysis of race and racism in education. Educational Researcher 33, 26-31. 154

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Dorn, S. (1996). Creating the dropout: An instituti onal and social history of school failure. Praeger. Westport: Conn. Edwards, P. & Schmidt, P. (2003). Critical Race Theory: Recognizing the elephant and taking action. Reading Research Quarterly, 41, 3, 404-415. Florida School Laws (2006). Florida Department of E ducation and LexisNexis. Fasick, F. (1977). Some uses of on transcribed ta pe recordings in survey research. Public Opinion Quarterly, 41, 4, 549-552. Foster, H. (1995). Educators and non-educator s perceptions of Black males: A survey. Journal of African American Men, 1, 2, 37. Fine, M. (1991), Framing Dropouts: Notes on th e politics of an Urban public high school. Albany: State University of New York Press. Frankenberg, E. (2006). The Segregation of American Teachers. Cambridge, MA.: The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. Gallagher, C. (2002). Stories from the strays : What dropouts can teach us about school. American Secondary Education, 30, 3, p. 36-60. Gerstl-Pepin, C., Killeen, K. & Hasazi, S. (2006). Utilizing an ethic of care in leadership preparation: Uncovering the co mplexity of colorblind social justice. Journal of Educational Administration 44, 3, 250-263. Ghee, K. (1990). The psychological importance of self-determination and labeling: Black versus African. Journal of Black psychology 17, 1, 75-93. 155

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Goldschmidt, P., Wang, J. (1999). When can schools affect dropout behavior? A longitudinal multilevel analysis. American Educational Research Journal 36, 4, 715-738. Gordon, E., Gordon, E., & Nembhard, J. (1994) Social science L iterature concerning African American men. The Journal of Negro Education 63, 508-531. Gubrium, J. & Holstein, J. (2001) Editors Handbook of Interview Research. Thousand Oaks California: Sage. Halcomb, E., & Dawson, P. (2006). Is verbatim transcription of interview data always necessary? Applied Nursing Research 19, 38-42. Holzman, M. (2006 ). Public Education and Black Male Students: The 2006 State Report Card. School Educational Inequity Inde x Cambridge, MA; The Schott Foundation for Public Education. James-Brown, F. (1995). The Black male crisis in the classroom: A qualitative study of the educational experiences of Black male students as perceived by the students themselves, their teachers, and parents (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University, 1995). Dissertation Abstracts International, 56, 6, 2109. Janesick, V. (1999). A journal about Journal writing as a qua litative research technique: history, issues, and reflections, Qualitative Inquiry 1999, 5, 4, 506. Janesick, V. (2004). Stretching exercises for qualitative researchers (2nd Ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 156

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Jimerson, S., Egeland, B., Sroufe, & Carlson, B. (2000). A perspective longitudinal study of high school dropout: Examining multiple predictors across development. Journal of School Psychology, 38, 6, 525-549. Jimerson, S., Anderson, G., & Whipple, A. (200 2). Winning the battle and losing the war: Explaining the relation between grade re tention and dropping out of high school. Psychology in the Schools 34, 4, 441-457. Kammoun, B. (1991). High school dropout programs: Elements for success. NASSP Bulletin, 75, 9. Kranick, R. & Hargis, C. (1998). Dropouts: Who Drops Out and Why? and The Development Action (2nd ed.) Springfield, Il: Charles C. Thomas Publication, LTD. Lacy, D. (1993). Dropouts: Who drops out and why? And the development action (2nd Ed.). Springfield, Il: Charles C. Thomas Publication, LTD. Ladson-Billings, G. (2000). Fi ghting for our lives: prepari ng teachers to teach AfricanAmerican students. Journal of Teacher Education 2000, 51, 206-214. Ladson-Billings, G. & Tate, W. (1995). Toward a critical race theory of education. Teachers College Record, 97, 1, 47-68. Labuschagne, A (2003). Qualitative Resear ch Airy fairy or fundamental? The Qualitative Report 8, 1, 100-103. Lee, V. & Burkam, D. (2003). Dropping out of high school: The role of school organization and structure. American Educational Research Journal, 40 353-393. 157

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Lewis, G. (1982). An analysis of interviews with urban Black males who dropped out of high school (Pennsylvania). (Doctoral dissertation, Temple University, 1983). Dissertation Abstracts International, 44, 1, 98. Mason, E., & Bramble, W. (1997). Research in education and behavioral sciences: Concepts and methods. Madison, WI.: Brown & Benchmark. Merriam, S. (1998). Qualitative research and case st udy applications in education. San Francisco, Ca: Josie-Bass Inc. Miles, M., & Huberman, M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage. McKinsey and Company, Social Sector Office (2009). The economic impact of the achievement gap in American schools. Retrieved from www.mckinsey.com/clientservices/socialsector. April 9, 2009. McKenzie, K. & Scheurich, J. (2004). Equity traps: A useful c onstruct for preparing principals to lead schools that are successful with racially diverse students. Educational Administration Quarterly, 40, 601. Murrell, Jr., P. (1994). In the search of re sponsive teaching for African-American males: An investigation of students expe riences of middle school mathematics curriculum. The Journal of Negro Education 63, 4, 556-569. Mutua, A. (2006). The rise, development and futu re directions of crit ical race theory and related scholarship. University of De nver Law Review, 84, Den. U. L. Rev. 329. 158

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National Education Association (NEA) 2006: Reducing the nation's dropout rate A fact sheet. Retrieved November 17, 2006 from http:www.nea.org/presscenter/actionplanfacts.html National Governors Association Center for Be st Practices, The Nati onal Conference of State Legislatures, The Council of Chie fs State School Officers, The National Association of State boards of Edu cation (2008). Accelerating the agenda: Actions to improve America's high schools, 2008. Nealy, M. (2008). Black men left out and locked up. Diverse: Issues in higher education, 2008, 24, 26, p 20-22. No Child Left Behind School Public Account ability Reports (2010). Florida Department of Education. Orfield, G. (Ed). (2004). Dropouts in America : Confronting the gr aduation rate crisis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Orfield, G., Losen, D., Wal d, J. & Swanson, C. (2004). Losing our future: How minority youth are being left behind by the graduation rate crisis. Cambridge, MA: The Civil Rights Projects at Ha rvard University: Contributors: Advocates for Children of New York, The Civ il Society Institute. Onwuegbuzie, A. & Leech, N. (2006). Linking re search questions to mixed methods data analysis procedures. The Qualitative Report 11, 474-498. Patchen, M. (2004). Making Our School More Effective: What Matters and What Works. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publishers, LTD. 159

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Patterson, J., Hale, D. & Stressman, M. ( 2007). Cultural contradictions and school leaving: A case study of an urban high school. The High School Journal, Dec. 2007/Jan. 2008, p 1-15. Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative and Evaluation Methods (3rd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Pottinger, D. (1997). Dropping out of high school among Af rican-Americans in Benton Harbor, Michigan: A study of its economic implications. Andrews University. Published dissertation. Ref Works 9804053. Pring, R. (2000). Philosophy of educational research (2nd ed.). New York: Continuum. Redditt, C. (2005). The lived experiences of African-American male dropouts: A phenomenological investigation Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Capella University, Minn. Reeves, D. (2006). Leading to change: Preventing 1,000 failures. Educational Leadership 64, 3, 88-89. Reyes, P. & Capper, C. (1991). Urban Principals : A critical perspective on the context of Minority student dropout. Educational Administration Quarterly 27, 4, 530-557. Roderick, M. (1993). The path to dropping out: Ev idence for intervention. Westport, CT: Auburn House. Rumberger, R. (1983). Droppi ng out of high school: The influence of race, sex, and family background. American Educational Research Journal 20, 2, 199-220. 160

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Rumberger, R. (1987). High School Dropouts: A Review of Issues and Evidence. Review of Educational Research 57, 2, 101-121. Samuels, C. (2007). Lack of research, data hurts dropout efforts, experts say. Education Week, 2007, May 9, p.8. Samuels, C. (2008). Fla. School distri ct sued over low graduation rates. Education Week, 2008, March 26, p. 8. Satchel, J. (2006). Lawrence Countys dropouts percepti on of why they chose to become early leavers. An unpublished doctoral dissertati on, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama. Schargel, F. (2004). Who drops out and why. In Smink, J., & Schargel, F. P., (Eds) (2004). Helping students graduate: A strategic approach to dropout prevention New York: Eye On Education. Schoenlein, J. (2004). Working on that old dropout rate. Principal Leadership (High School Ed.), 4, 7, 14-18. Simpson, H. (2005). Critical incidents relating to high school dropout of identified young adult Black males (The University of Texas at Austin, Texas). Dissertation Abstract In ternational, 65, 10, 3647. Smith, W., Yosso, T. & Solrzano, D. (2007) Racial primes and Black misandry or historically White campuses: Toward cri tical race accountability in educational administration. Educational Administration Quarterly. vol. 43, 5, 559-585. 161

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Smyth, J. & Haltam, R. (2001). Voiced research as a sociology for understanding dropping out of school. British Jour nal of Sociology of Education, 22, 3, 401415. Solrzano, D. & Yosso, T. (2001). From raci al stereotyping and deficit and discourse. Multicultural Education, Fall 2001. Sprinthall, R., Schmutte, G., & Sirois, L. (1991). Understanding e ducational research. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall. Spurrier, A. (2005). Narrative inquiry of the experi ences of disconnection of AfricanAmerican males who fail to graduate at a typical suburban high school. (Kent State University, Ohio). Dissertat ion Abstracts Inte rnational, 66, 7, 2459. Stearns, E. & Glennie, E. (2006). When and w hy dropouts leave high school. Youth & Society, 38, 29. Swanson, C. (2004) Graduate Rates Real Kids, Real Numbers: The Urban Institute Education Policy Center. Retrieved 11/17/2006 from the www.urban.org Swanson, C. (2008). Cities in crisis: A special analytic report on high school graduation. Editorial Projects in Education and Res earch Center, April 1, 2008. Retrieved from http://ccf.sfsu.edu/pubs_akom on 8/13/2008. Swanson, C. (2009). Cities in Crisis 2009: Closing the Grad uation Gap Educational and economic conditions in Americas largest cities. Editorial Projects in Education, Inc. Research Center. April, 2009. Bethesda, MD. 162

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The Educational Trust Foundation (2005). Gaining traction, gaining ground: How some high schools accelerate learni ng for struggling students. Washington, D.C. Retrieved October 10, 2007 from www.edtrust.org. The Schott Foundation (2008). Given half a chance: The Schott 50 state report on public education and Black Males. The Schott Foundation for Public Education. Cambridge, Ma. Theoharis, G. (2008). Woven in deeply: Identi ty and leadership of urban social justice principals. Education and Urban Society 41, 3, 3-25. UCLA (2005). The Civil Rights Project. Research confronting the graduation rate crisis in the South. Retrieved June 29, 2007 from http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.ed u/research/dropouts/ dropouts_south05.php Walden, L. & Kritsonis, W. (2008). The impact of the correlation between The No Child Left Behind Acts high stakes testing and the high dropout rates of minority students. Doctoral Forum National Journa l for Publishing and Mentoring Doctoral Student Research, 5, 1, p. 1-6. Weis, L., Farrar, E., & Petrie, H. (eds.) (1989). Dropouts from School: Issues, Dilemmas, and solutions. NY: State University of New York. Wehlage, G. (1989). Dropping out: Can schools be expected to prevent it? In Weis, L., Farrar, E., & Petrie, H. (eds.) (1989). Dropouts from School: Issues, Dilemmas, and solutions. NY: State University of New York. 163

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White-Johnson, A. (1996). Narrated percepti ons of schooling among African-American male dropouts at Maxima High School: A case study (State University of New York at Buffalo, New York). Dissertation Abstract Intern ational, 57/09, 3886, Mar. 1997. Wolk, R. (2009). Why were still At Risk: The legacy of five faulty assumptions. Education Week, 28, 29, 36-30. 164

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Appendices 165

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Appendix A Sample of an Interview Transcription Transcription Mr. Roberts Researcher This is the initial interview for my dissertation research. I am meeting with the [School Based-Leader] who is being c oded [MR. ROBERTS]. Weve reviewed the consent to participate in the research form He understands the pur pose of the research, the study procedures and hes been given a c opy of the districts approval and he has signed the consent form saying that he agrees. Do you have any questions regarding the consent form at this point? MR. ROBERTS No Researcher Thank you very much. Okay. We are beginning the interview. The first question is, What are your perceptions of American male students of African descent and how did you acquire your knowledge of these students their lives, histories, communities, churches etc. MR. ROBERTS Well it's difficult to describe perceptions of a group that large without thinking of individuals I think that my perception of that group as a total group would be that there is a great deal of variety, there's a great deal of difference between individuals within the group just like any other group. Most of the knowledge Ive acquired of male students of African descent were from my work as a school teacher and school administrator. Ive worked with kids from all backgrounds from all racial and ethnic groups from all kinds of families, from very poor to very wealthy families, and schools and I don't think there is one characteristic that you can generally apply to every single member of that group. I think that they vary as individuals just like any other group. I know that theres a public perception that as a group those st udents that fit into that category perform less well, overall, as a group on standardiz ed tests and in school than some other groups that you can pinpoint. I think that's an individual thing that has to be looked at for individual students. Researcher Where do you think that perception cam e from, when people talk about that group, what you think that perception came from? MR. ROBERTS Oh, I think it comes from a lot of things, it comes from the media, it comes from attitudes that people have developed over time, I mean, people are born, or have been born mostly with at least prejudice, biases everybody has them I think to some extent, some more than oth ers. I think that perception is perpetrated perhaps or exacerbated by pop culture some how I think there is a celebration of the, the gangster element in movies, and music, and the media in general among young 166

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people and I think there is kind of like young people at all times rebel against authority including my own generation I th ink that the rebellion that takes place now are the media rebellion anyway is often associated with young black males. They are the most popular music people no w and pop music is on radio stations and all that kind of thing. The rap artist a nd so forth, athletes theres a very small population of young black men who make a lot of money through athletics or through entertainment that I think kids l ook up to and I think possibly there is a resentment factor that exist from some lo nger standing, uh, establishment people. Other people in other racial ethnic groups who resent other people that are not like them being successful. Researcher Okay, you say that you go back from your teaching days to your administration days, about how many years ha ve you been associatedor worked with these young men? MR. ROBERTS -31 years. Researcher Have you attended any of thei r churches, community functions? MR. ROBERTS Yes, we go at least once, maybe twice, three times a year to a backto-school activity that take place in some of the local community churches, I've been doing that since I was at [names a sch ool] 20 years ago. We've also attended some things, that weve been to some events we've been invited to by organizations, because as [names his position] we get invited to a lot of things and I try to attend those but I don't I don't attend regularly any churches on Sunday morning other than my own. Researcher Okay. Are you aware of the drop out rate of American males of African descent in your school? MR. ROBERTS Oh I'm aware that the dropout rate is high among that group compared to some other groups. I don' t know the exact number at this point. Researcher How do you generally id entify potential dropouts? MR. ROBERTS We looked every student who comes in here from a middle school, and analyze their previous performance, analyze their attendance, look at their discipline records [to] see how theyve done in the past and we identify them that way. We look at attendance, discipline, a nd academic performance that gives you certainly a picture of a kid who's less likely to stick it out through four years of high school and maybe another four years. Researcher Alright, who does that? Who is assigned to that? 167

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MR. ROBERTS Actually, the person who does th e most of it is the assistant principle of curriculum and the guidance couns elors. But we all take part in that. Our student affairs office has three assistan t principals they take a look at kids coming in from the middle school. So rea lly every member in the administration to a varying degree and the guidance counselors. Researcher Okay. What are your thoughts regard ing the dropout rate of these young students? MR. ROBERTS Well its too high. Obviously, its tragic that so many of them that are going to be dropouts I think have at least and now own minds if they haven't consciously made that decision they've almost given up by the time they get to high school. If their grades haven't been where th ey need to be, particularly kids who for not reading, on grade level by the time they get to high sc hool, they have an almost fatalistic, defeatist attitude already, you know. School is already the enemy. And theyre embarrassed in the classroom when called upon to read, if they can't read well and they really have a negative attitude about school before they get to high school. Researcher -Any thoughts on, if they have such a negative attitude, why do they continue? Why do they come to high school? MR. ROBERTS Well, there are those who come to high school just because that's what they've always done, going to school is what you do. Others do it for the social aspect of it. I mean there are kids who come to be with their friends, and hang out. Researcher Do you think the dropout their dropout rate warrants special attention? MR. ROBERTS -Oh yeah, absolutely, ab solutely. I think so. Researcher Alright, so, what? MR. ROBERTS Well, I think early intervention I think there are a lot of things you can do, I think, possibly one of th e most I don't want to use the word effective, because I don't have any data to back this up, but I think one of the best things you can do, I guess, is.. the best way I can say that, is to work with kids oneon-one, to try to develop an individual relationship with the teacher, and individual relationship with a guidance counselor, ad ministrator someone who can make the child believe that they care about them. I think kids respond a whole lot better to adults in a school setting or anywhere really, if they feel like th e adults care about them as people and as human beings and want them to be successful rather than just, okay, this is just a kid sitting in my classroom and I've got to do with them, you know. 168

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Researcher You indicated that the APC, gui dance, and just about everybody in administration, at some point, they will review the records and they find these kids that's potential dropouts MR. ROBERTS um uh. Researcher What do they do is to get these kids coming in, some of them don't want to be here and they are holding on by faith, what do they do when they identify these children? MR. ROBERTSWell, a number of things, one thing that we try to do is to do the student interested in being a part of someth ing one campus, whether it's an athletic team, whether it's a music group, whet her it's ROTC, whether it's a club or organization, something they can be a part of that they can get a sense of belonging to and then, once that relationship is estab lished with that group, then they have a group that they're kind of accountable to for their for their p erformance, for that behavior. They have people that they ca n either, support or that they can head down and I think it helps, any person, I think to have an extern al governor on their behavior that somebodys going to say someth ing to em, some peer or person that's depending on them to say Hey, you're not helping out here, You're not being part of the team, You're not pulling you weight and I think, uh, just like in a family, uh, they can support a person but they can also make a person perform better out of aout of a sense of obligation. Researcher You've given some very detailed thoughts. Have you shared your thoughts or concerns regarding these dr opouts with anyone outside the school in the district office. If so, who and how? MR. ROBERTS -Yeah, we talk about those things. I actually have spoken with the general director for secondary education in charge of curriculum, with my area director, who has been a principal that's been very successful. Those conversations happen pretty frequently with lots of people. Researcher Okay. How do they respond to that? MR. ROBERTS Well, I think everybody recogniz es the problem a whole lot more than they believe they have the answer, we all struggle with many problems in school, but I think that's on e that that we haven't, the education profession, and locally and nationally, we haven't quite gotten our hands on it yet. Researcher Alright, youre saying th at your schools administ ration, theyre responsible for, their role primarily is to identify these youngsters. What other role do they play in dropout prevention? 169

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MR. ROBERTS Well, mentoring and counseling, of individual students, certainly. We have a couple of people who sponsor, a group, one of our assistant principals has a group of young men that she's identified, as being on the precipice of dropping out and brings in people from the community to sit down and talk with them to try to inspire them, to give them a sense that there is hope in their education, and to try to get them to understand why it's so import ant for them to take advantage of the education they can get as long as, you kn ow, while they're young and can do that. Uh, while the district provides opportunities for adults that didn't take advantage when they were younger.. Researcher Um hm.. MR. ROBERTS Life comes a whole lot easier for those people did, so we try to, her group is really reaching out to ki ds who are on the very brink. Researcher And that's the assistan t principal of curriculum? MR. ROBERTS No, that's the assistant, one of the assistant principals of student affairs [names the AP]. And another thing th at we're doing this year, uh, we have a number of teaches here in our IB program and our traditional program who applied for district performance pay and one of the things that we stipulated this year that if you want to apply for distri ct performance pay were going to ask you to take. we have a list that we have deve loped of potential dropouts, but theyre potential dropouts because their academic performance is so low. Not because of discipline or attendance, that's another se t of issue. these teachers are going to individually take these kids, to meet with them once a month, review their grades, ask them how they're doing, ask them how they can help, just, again, be an adult that they can have a relationship with and they can be answerable to that can help them get through some of the things. And so if you multiply eight kids times 40 adults that's a pretty sizable group we can work. Researcher So they are asked to work with eight kids? MR. ROBERTS Each person works with eight kids. Each of our administrators are going to do that as well. Researcher Now, are those programs written down what [the AP] is doing and this program that you're talking about them getting th ose eight kids. Is that written or is that something that's in the works right now. MR. ROBERTS Well, [the AP] started her group last year. She has some things written down. I don't know if she has a full articulated plan written down. But I have seen what shes doing with it. Bu t what Ive just described with the eight kids is not in writing yet. 170

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Researcher Okay. MR. ROBERTS We are working on getting that in the hands of those teachers, over the next two weeks, because of the two weeks, two weeks from now is the deadline for them to apply for that and I want them to know what theyre getting into. ResearcherThis is not one of my questions he re but you sparked a question when you were talking about the, uh, masters level t eachers. Do you have any many here in [names the school] High School? MR. ROBERTS Oh yeah, I dont know how many but its quite a few.. Researcher Okay re they making a difference in the sense of working with these kids or are they primarily focusing on the academic enhancement of the regular program in school? MR. ROBERTS Well, I think theyre focusing on the academics and the influence of all students. Researcher Okay. MR. ROBERTS I mean, let me say this about that so that you will understand. The kids that are in the really high programs the IB Programs, those kids are kind of separate. I mean, they aretheyre in separa te classes academica lly. They arent, in class with non-IB kids other than elective classes. All of there academic classes are separated. Now, there is no distinction after that though. I mean every kid is the same. We have regular and honors classes, we have AP classes and so forth. But I have teachers who teach regular classes work just as hard as the teachers who teach the AP Classes. So you know Researcher Theyre getting it both ways MR. ROBERTS Yeah. 171

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Appendix B Interview Protocol for Principals/Assistant Principals Date _________________ Position _________________ Code #___________ 1. What are your perceptions of American ma le students of African descent? And how did you did you acquire your knowledge of thes e students, their lives, histories, communities, churches, etc.? 2. Are you aware of the dropout rate of Ameri can male students of African descent in your school? When do you generally identify potential dropouts? How is this done and by whom? What are your thoughts regard ing the dropout rate of these students? 3. Do you think their dropout rate warrants sp ecial attention? If so what? Have you shared your concern/thoughts with others in or outside the school, district office? If so, who and how? 4. What role does the administration play in dropout prevention for American male students of African descent? In what ways have these programs or other supports are offered these students? Have these efforts been successful? 5. Are there rules, procedures or barriers that push these students out of school? 6. What resources do you think you need to prev ent these students from dropping out of your school? 172

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Appendix C Interview Protocol for School-Based Leaders Date _________________ Position _________________ Code #___________ 1. What are your perceptions of American ma le students of African descent? And how did you did you acquire your knowledge of thes e students, their lives, histories, communities, churches, etc.? 2. Are you aware of the dropout rate of Ameri can male students of African descent in your school? When does your school genera lly identify potential dropouts? How is this done and by whom? What are your thoughts regarding the dropout rate of these students? 3. Do you think their dropout rate warrants sp ecial attention? If so what? Have you shared your concern/thoughts with others in or outside the school ? If so, who and how? 4. What role does your schools administrati on play in dropout prevention for American male students of African descent? How are these programs or other supports offered these students? Have these efforts been successful? 5. Are there rules, procedures or barriers that push these students out of school? 6. What resources do you think you need to prev ent these students from dropping out of your school? 173

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Appendix D Field Notes Form for Interviews with Principals/Assistant Principals Date __________________ Position __________________ Code #_____________ 1. What are your perceptions of American male stud ents of African descen t? And how did you did you acquire your knowledge of these students, thei r lives, histories, communi ties, churches, etc.? 2. Are you aware of the dropout rate of American male students of African descent in your school? When do you generally identify potential dropouts? How is this done and by whom? What are your thoughts regarding the dropout rate of these students? 3. Do you think their dropout rate warrants special attention? If so what? Have you shared your concerns/thoughts with others in or outside the school, district of fice? If so, who and how? 174

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Appendix D (cont.) Field Notes Form for Interviews with Principals/Assistant Principals Date __________________ Position __________________ Code #_____________ 4. What role does the administra tion play in dropout prevention for American male students of African descent? In what ways have these programs or other supports offered to these students? Have these efforts been successful? 5. Are there rules, procedures or barriers that push these students out of school? 6. What resources do you think yo u need to prevent these students from dropping out of your school? 175

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Appendix E Field Notes Form for Interviews with School-Based Leaders Date __________________ Position __________________ Code #_____________ 1. What are your perceptions of American male st udents of African des cent? And how did you acquire your knowledge of these students, their lives, histories, communities, churches, etc. 2. Are you aware of the dropout rate of American ma le students of African descent in your school? When does your school generally identify potential dropouts? How is this done and by whom? What are your thoughts regarding the dropout rate of these students? 3. Do you think their dropout rate warrants special attention? If so what? Have you shared your concern/thoughts with others in or outs ide the school? If so, who and how? 176

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Appendix E (cont.) Field Notes Form for Interviews Protocol for School-Based Leaders Date __________________ Position __________________ Code #_____________ 4. What role does your schools administration play in dropout prevention for American male students of African descent? How are these programs or other supports offered to these students? Have these efforts been successful? 5. Are there rules, procedures or barriers that push these students out of school? 6. What resources do you think yo u need to prevent these students from dropping out of your school? 177

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178 About the Author John J, Brown, Jr. received a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Johnson C. Smith University in 1972; a Masters De gree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1979; and a Masters Degree in Education from the University of South Florida in 2003. He worked for the State of Virginia from 1972 to 1996 in various positions in Juvenile Courts as a superv isor and Field Instructor fo r Masters level social work students. He as worked as an Agency Mana gement Analysis and Strategic Planner with the Virginia Department of Youth and Family Services. He worked for seven years as an Assistant Principal at an alternative school within a 350 bed level 8 juveni le facility .He was acting Prin cipal of the school for five months. He as worked as a teaching assistant at USF and has co-authored and article on retaining teachers and has made paper presen tations at professional association meetings.


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A case study of school based leaders' perspectives of high school dropouts
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ABSTRACT: School districts are failing to educate all of America's children. Dropout statistics reveal that almost 7,000 students leave our nation's schools everyday. At this rate 1.2 million students will not graduate on time with their prospective classes. The majority of American male students of African descent are dropping out instead of completing high school. When compared to that of their white peers, the dropout rate of American male students of African descent is significantly higher and the graduation rate much lower. This research examines high school dropouts from the perspectives of school-based leaders in a high school located in a city in a large southern school district. Structured interviews, transcribed with member-checks, were conducted with eight school-based leaders. The data in this qualitative study were used to examine their perspectives of American male students of African descent dropping out of their high school. The researcher maintained a reflective research journal to enhance the data analysis. The study found that the perspectives of the eight school-based leaders were influenced by their past histories with these students; their personal and acquired knowledge of these students, their families, and their communities. They were largely uniformed of the dropout rate and their previous history with these students had an impact on their present level of support to these students.
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