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Title: Eye of the Beholder: Educator Perceptions of Factors Influencing the Academic Outcomes of Minority Male Students
Authors: Braxton, Trayvon
Advisors: Pithers, Lisa
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: Over the last several decades, significant academic and policy attention has focused on the racial achievement gap that exists within the U.S. education system. Traditionally the “achievement gap” has referred to the disparities in the academic performance and attainment of minority students and their White and Asian peers. However, in recent years increasing attention and research has shifted towards observed disparities in the degree of college preparation between minority and non-minority students alongside that of the achievement gap. The student population that has garnered particular attention in relation to these phenomena is minority males, given their general status among the bottom of practically all achievement indicators relative to their peers of other races and genders. Therefore, although extensive research and policy efforts have been made to address the disparities amongst minority male students and their peers, these disparities continue to persist, begging the question of why. One potential explanation to this question is that, given the extent of the academic literature around this topic, minority student underachievement persists in part because educators are not directing appropriate attention to those factors that have been identified as most important in relation to minority achievement, particularly in the context of minority male achievement. In order to evaluate this “hypothesis,” I conducted a survey of teachers, administrators, and fellows from the New York City Department of Education’s Expanded Success Initiative, a city-wide initiative specifically targeted at improving the college readiness and achievement outcomes of Black and Latino young men. Participants were asked their perceptions of the importance of various factors, derived from the academic literature, which have been found to impact the educational outcomes of minority male students. The average ranking of these factors were then compared across the three respondent groups of teachers, administrators, and fellows, in order to evaluate whether those factors found to be most important and predictive of minority male outcomes by the academic literature were reflected in the average rankings of respondents. These finding were then used to evaluate whether or not ESI educators are placing adequate attention on those areas most relevant to promoting improved minority male achievement. While acknowledging the inability of my study to garner representative conclusions, given its small sample size, based on the data I obtained it was found that results were mixed, with group rankings and perceptions aligning with the academic literature in regards to some factors, while diverging from it in regards to others. I therefore recommend further investigation into this topic, in order to augment the findings from this study, as well as the potential implementation of initiatives to address divergences amongst the academic literature and educators.
Extent: 128 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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