What can School Administrators do to Improve the Math Performance of Black Males?

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Virginia Tech


School administrators are charged with guiding, overseeing, and ensuring the successful education of all students. They use myriad techniques to this end, though not all students share in the success. For example, Black male students are more likely to underperform than are other groups of students, which places their academic and economic survival at risk (Kirsch, Braun, Yamamoto, and Sum, 2007). The focus of this study was on Black male student performance in Algebra 1.

Algebra 1 plays a pivotal role in academic success and is a leading indicator of a students likelihood of success in advanced mathematics courses (Wang and Goldschmidt, 2003). Failure to learn and understand the content in Algebra 1 results in limitations on further mathematical opportunities in the short-term, which, in turn, reduces prospects for continued education beyond secondary school.

The purpose of this study was to examine and identify specific school leadership practices that influence and improve the Algebra 1 performance of Black male students. Interviews with principals, lead math teachers, and school counselors provided qualitative data related to school-level leadership practices. Additionally, I conducted document reviews of school newsletters, parent letters, robocall messages, lesson plans, and websites. Analyses of the interviews and documents revealed six themes: (a) effective instructional leadership, (b) culture of collaboration, (c) facilitation and scheduling, (d) parental involvement, (e) intervention and remediation, and (f) resources. This study has implications and applications for the practices of school leaders, mathematics teaching and learning, and programs to support Black male students.



Algebra 1, Black male students, school leaders