Practices and Procedures that Influence African-American Males to Drop Out from Public School

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Virginia Tech


The African-American male national on-time graduation rate data are evidence that systemic changes must occur to address the academic failure they experience. A significant gap in achievement exists when compared to the on-time graduation rate of their White male peers. It is possible that some students do not graduate on-time due to retention that may occur after they have entered the ninth grade.

The African-American male students in this study failed to graduate on-time because they did not persist to successfully complete their twelfth grade year; instead, they dropped out. While factors associated with societal issues and familial dynamics contribute to this problem, factors associated with public school practices and procedures are the focus of this study.

The educational records of 125 African-American male high school dropouts were analyzed to identify school factors that may explain why they did not persist to graduate. These students dropped out from an urban school division in Virginia during the 2009 and 2010 school years.  A mixed methods approach was used to answer the research questions posed in this study. The conceptual framework, a road map for the study, proposes discipline sanctions, curriculum programming, instructional experiences and school relationships as factors for review.

Quantitative research methods were used to analyze longitudinal data and qualitative methods were used to analyze survey data on student perception of teacher relationships. Findings from the study will enable school principals, counselors and teachers to make informed instructional decisions that may prevent African-American males from dropping out of one urban school division in Virginia. While not generalizable to all school settings, strategies associated with discipline sanctions, curriculum programming, instructional experiences and school relationships are provided.



African-American male, curriculum programming, discipline sanctions, dropout, instructional experiences, student-teacher relationship