Fulfilling the promise: Black parents' experiences in supporting their children's mathematics education

Carol Kelley, University of Pennsylvania


The Brown v. Board of Education (1954) ruling has benefited Blacks in many ways. Ironically, the promise of equal educational opportunities and outcomes for Black children today as a result of their attending integrated, public school settings seems to be a promise left unfulfilled. In comparing mathematics scores by race/ethnicity, we see that Black students have consistently scored lower than their non-Black cohorts, even 50 years after Brown v. BOE (NCES, 2003). In the past few years, several researchers have conducted studies on the achievement gap found within suburban communities (Ferguson, 2002b; Ogbu, 2003b). However, none of their research has focused on the nature of Black parents' experience in helping their children reach levels of proficiency in mathematics. Because of the importance of mathematics education to future educational and economic success (Adelman, 1999) and the seminal role of parental involvement in the education of their children, examination of this phenomenon—the nature of Black parents' experiences in supporting their children mathematics education—is the purpose of this study. Using ethnographic methods, I collected and coded the data for this study by using thematic analysis to develop an integrated framework of the isolated themes. Results suggest that the parents in this study provided their children with basic resources necessary in supporting their children's mathematics education (Gordon, 2004b). According to the literature on developing children's academic ability, resources available to the parents in this study were insufficient to help their children reach proficiency levels in mathematics (Gordon, 2001a). Given the importance of mathematics to their children's future, recommendations are outlined in this paper intended to help families attain greater access to certain forms of educational-relevant capital to best support their children's mathematics education (Gordon, 2001a).

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Elementary education|African Americans|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Kelley, Carol, "Fulfilling the promise: Black parents' experiences in supporting their children's mathematics education" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3168030.