Exploring the Causes of Underachievement of African American Boys: A Qualitative Descriptive Case Study

Exploring the Causes of Underachievement of African American Boys: A Qualitative Descriptive Case Study

Author: 
Rosetta Brown
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
The qualitative descriptive case study explores the underachievement phenomenon of fourth-grade African American boys in New York City public elementary schools. Numerous studies have been conducted at the middle school through college levels. However, very little is known about the underachievement phenomenon of fourth-grade African American learners. To eradicate the underachievement syndrome, researchers, policymakers, educators, parents, and community leaders must understand the causes to remedy the problem. Unveiling the causes of the underachievement travesty along with research-based strategies and interventions have the potential to destroy the school-to-prison pipeline and pave the way for enriched educational experiences, which includes culturally responsive pedagogy for African American fourth-grade male learners. To unveil the causes of underachievement phenomenon, the researcher designed the following research question: What are the causes of underachievement of African American fourth grade boys in New York City public schools? The interviews conducted and presented the research inquiry to administrators, teachers, parents, and school counselors of the school communities. Based on the participants’ responses, the following causative themes and researched based strategies emerged: socio-economics, poor student/teacher relationships, lack of parental involvement, culture/race, lack of cultural pedagogy, lack of male role models, and lack of student motivation. With this information and the use of the research based strategies, African American fourth grade learners in New York City public elementary schools will have the opportunity to a quality education. As Smiley (2011, p.1) stated, African American boys are “too important to fail.”
Dedication: 
This study is dedicated not only to all the African American fourth-grade boys in New York City public schools but also to male learners throughout the nation and worldwide. The study is also dedicated to the many teachers, parents, administrators, counselors, support teams, school and custodial staff, community leaders, policymakers, and researchers who have the awesome opportunity to ensure that African American male learners have an enriched and dynamic educational experience. The learners will have greater opportunity to lead, teach, and support future generations to create a nation of learners with imaginable talents and gifts to serve all mankind. Just imagine what a world that could be. The study is especially dedicated to the memory of my father, the late Reverend Frank Brown Paige, whose love, guidance, and care help me to reach the end of this journey without giving up until I reach my goal. My father was always one of my greatest supporters in life and helped me to know that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” To my precious and beloved mother, Jane Brown Paige, I dedicate this study to you because of your kindness, determination, faithfulness, character, persistence, strength and long-suffering in raising me to become the person I am and to possess some of the traits that you modeled for me unselfishly throughout the years by leading by example. This dissertation is a special gift to you for all that you have done.
Acknowledgements: 
“It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men.” Fredrick Douglass I give God almighty all the honor, the praise and the glory for allowing me to complete this awesome doctoral journey from the inception to the end. God is truly good and worthy of all of my praises. A noteworthy acknowledgement is offered to my late husband, Edward Ennis who was one of my greatest supporters. I loved you so much because you always encouraged me. You also supported my efforts and my dreams to be all that I could be by helping me ignite my passion and love for education. I must acknowledge several members of my family who nurtured and cared for me throughout my formative years and served as excellent role models during their lifetime: Carrie Lee Brown, grandmother; Carrie Mae Jenkins, sister; Dorothy McDaniel, aunt; Frances Norwood, great-aunt; Amelia Watkins-Jordan, cousin; Hector and Elaine Graham, cousins; Esther Morrison, cousin; James and Queenie Pegram, cousins; Lela Johnson, godmother; Pastors Dewitt and Margaret Jordan; Katherine Sheridan, cousin; Delores Christian Smith, cousin; Christine Knocket-Steed, cousin. An acknowledgement is presented to my chairperson, Dr. Michelle Hill, who also served as committee member as well as stepped in to help me complete the final segments of this dissertation journey and encouraged me along the way. Dr. Michelle adjusted her schedule to assist and support my efforts during this difficult process. Dr.Hill also demonstrated commitment to ensure that I completed the dissertation journey. I was indeed fortunate to have her as a member of the dissertation team. I would also like to acknowledge Dr. Joy Taylor who served as committee member throughout the dissertation process. Dr. Taylor ensured that I always took a second look during this awesome journey. Dr. Taylor has been instrumental in helping me attain my dissertation goal. I must acknowledge Dr. Lisa Isbell who served in various roles during my enrollment at the University of Phoenix. Dr. Isbell served as my professor, chairperson, and committee member. Dr. Isbell challenged my thinking and encouraged me as well. Dr. Isbell also addressed numerous issues and resolved many problems. The journey was much easier as a result of her knowledge and guidance.