The quest for excellence: A case study of academically high -achieving black males in a suburban high school

Lennox H Small, University of Pennsylvania


The purpose of this study is to identify the commonalities that exist among African American Male students who are thriving academically. Specific emphasis was placed on the African American Male students at Piscataway High School in Piscataway, New Jersey. The study entailed a qualitative analysis of eight high achieving African American males at Piscataway High School. While a growing body of literature explores the academic achievement gap that persists between African American and Caucasian and Asian students, the research presents very little data on the academic accomplishments of African American males who dispel the myth of underachievement and academic disengagement. The study also explored the MALES (Mentoring and Learning Equal Success) Program at Piscataway High School. This group consists of high achieving African American Male students and was the primary means of collecting data on this study. Data was collected via observations, surveys, and interviews. This study will provide insight into ways of addressing the achievement gap in Piscataway High School and other suburban school districts whose demographics mirror Piscataway. Teacher and student academic expectations, pedagogical approaches, the impact of mentoring, the role of the family, peer pressure, and school culture will all be brought to the forefront during this study. Upon completion, the study will address the following questions with greater clarity: What can we learn from these successful boys? If they feel they must live in two cultures, how have they navigated them? How have they acquired the upper-middle class habitus they need to succeed? What are the costs and benefits as they see it? What can their experiences tell us about how to help other kids succeed?

Subject Area

African Americans|School administration

Recommended Citation

Small, Lennox H, "The quest for excellence: A case study of academically high -achieving black males in a suburban high school" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3270871.