Practices that are in place at a diverse school where African American students have increased achievement
African American students are disproportionately underachieving in public elementary schools (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). School staff and school leaders need to understand why an achievement gap still exists between the White and the African American students on their campuses (Kafele, 2009; Noguera, 2003; Denbo, 2002; Ferguson, 2001). A few schools have made a significant difference in school achievement for students of color and researchers and educators need to identify what these schools are doing differently to promote student success, especially for African American students (Chenoweth, 2009; Carter, 2000; Reyes, Scribner, & Scribner, 1999). The purpose of this study was to identify the practices that are in place at a diverse school where African American students have increased achievement. The study took a holistic look at one diverse elementary school in order to highlight the practices that assisted in the school’s success with African American students and their achievement.
The research questions for this study are:
- What practices are in place at a diverse school where African American students have increased achievement?
- What policies are in place at a diverse school where African American students have increased achievement? The framework for the study is based on Samuel Casey Carter’s Study of 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools. The methodology for this study used qualitative research guidelines, was ethnographic in nature, and used a single-case study approach. The data was gathered through observations, interviews, focus groups, and analysis of documental data. The findings for effective practices include: Supportive Leadership, Implementing Change, Staff Development, Distributive Leadership, Departmentalization, School-Wide Programs, Student Resources, Teacher Resources, Communication, and Planning and Teaming. The findings for effective policies include: Open Door Policy, Student Placement, Site-Based Decision Making Committee, Parent-Teacher Organization, and Grading. The conclusions are that policies and practices must be in place for schools to run effectively and increase achievement. The specific practices and policies that appear to support African American students may be beneficial to campuses with similar backgrounds or demographics. Schools that embrace practices and policies, such as these are in a better position to enhance the achievement for all African American students.