Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Christopher Robbins, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Sylvia Jones, PhD

Committee Member

Aaron Johnson, PhD

Committee Member

Paul Ramsey, PhD


The achievement of Black boys in public schools continues to be a major focus of concern for educators and researchers. Consequently, educators and researchers have looked to issues of engagement and identity as key variables relative to achievement. Numerous theories point to adverse environmental factors contributing to the achievement disparities affecting Black boys in schools, but limited research has sought to elevate the voices of Black boys to understand how they identify with schools, as well as the social factors that contribute to their social and academic identities. In this qualitative research, focus groups were used to engage with Black boys and suburban, female educators to understand how their experience within school and in their personal lives shape their engagement in shared educational spaces.

The purpose of the research sought to understand the role that school-based factors play in influencing the schooling experiences of Black boys in suburban high schools in the Midwest United States by listening to the voices of Black boys. Additionally, this research examined how teachers experienced their roles as educators of Black students by identifying the factors that contribute to their roles and experiences inside of the classroom. This study consisted of two participant groups: One participant group consisted of sixty-three Black boys, with the other consisted of ten White women educators. The findings of this research concluded that Black boys benefit, both academically and socially, when taught by teachers who are trained in cultural competencies who share a commitment to creating learning environments that lift up the voices, cultures, and identities of Black boys that are centered on anti-deficit expectations.

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