In their own voices: African American students talk about rigorous course work with a focus on science





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This study examined what African American students at an urban high school communicated regarding taking rigorous courses. The Primary Research Question was How do African American students at an urban high school describe their decision making process of whether or not they take International Baccalaureate (IB) science courses? This was an exploratory case study using archival school records, a focus group interview, and a questionnaire to determine factors that affect enrollment in IB science courses. The participants included sophomores, juniors, and seniors from the same urban high school both male and female. There were seven participants, five participated in the focus group interview, six participated in the archival school record, and all seven completed the questionnaire. Four areas of concern emerged. One, Racial Issues, includes, stereotyping of African American students, racial jokes and cutting remarks, and the lack of understanding regarding the students' culture. Two, Adult Guidance, includes, knowing students' strengths and interests and the role of parents and school staff in the participants' life. Three, Structure of the Course, includes, presenting the material clearly, having clear consistent expectations of students, and answering students' questions. Four, Adequate Preparation for taking International Baccalaureate science courses, includes, appropriate mathematics and reading levels, prior knowledge, and prerequisite courses. The limited number of participants of this study does not allow for any generalizations.

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