How do the African American male students of the senior class (2009) of Rice High School, Harlem, New York describe the contributing factors leading to their educational successes?





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The graduation rate of African American males students in this country are declining rapidly. This qualitative case study addresses the decline in the graduation rate but also discusses the factors leading to the successes of a particular group of African American males students. The purpose of the research inquiry was to determine various factors that helped or hindered the academic progression of the six African American male participants. For the study, participants were on track and ready for their high school graduation. This in and of itself is a success for today's African American male high school student. The primary philosophies that framed this study were Ryan and Deci's (2006) theory of self-determination and Bronfenbrenner's (1979; 2005) bioecological model of human development. Data was derived from co-researchers' responses to a semi-structured interview, faculty interviews, personal observations and interactions. The following findings emerged as protective factors among the young men interviewed: satisfaction of needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness), opportunities for meaningful participation, strong connection with at least one adult and meaningful friendships. Additional common factors that emerged from the findings (interviews) as influential to the academic progression of the six African American males were categorized as; (a) personal attributes and perceptions, (b) relationships and external influences, and (c) institutional factors. The personal attributes of the participants included self-efficacy, endurance and resilience, and self-regulation. These attributes were framed within the central context of personal agency. The external factors that the participants discussed consisted of family messages about the value of education, role models, mentors and advocates and/or coaches in their participation in sports. The institutional factors were the care of teachers, high expectations and a school culture of excellence. Race and gender were also considered relative to the young men and their experience within the educational systems in American.

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