A major concern in the public schools is the low academic achievement of African American males. This mixed methods study examined the classroom experiences of African American male students in an alternative program. The dual purpose was to investigate the teachers' perceptions and their ability to provide best learning environments for these students as well as investigate the perceptions of parents whose sons are enrolled in the alternative school. To achieve the purpose of this study multiple sources of data such as Lake School student data, teacher and parent interviews, and classroom observations were used. Thirty-one participants were interviewed (18 teachers and 13 parents) using a semi-structured 10 question interview protocol. The researcher also conducted observations of the teachers' classrooms included in the interviews. The following 4 themes emerged from a thorough analysis of all data gathered in this study: student motivation, adaptable teaching strategies, communication, and parent partnership. Through semi-structured interviews, teachers expressed that this group of students are particularly challenging because of their lack of motivation in the classroom. Forty-five percent of the teacher respondents reported that the biggest challenge they face with this population is their lack of interest and motivation in the school experience. Further 44% of teacher respondents indicated that they have difficulty keeping these students engaged in the classroom. Low self-esteem was also a concern and 85% of the teacher respondents indicated that these students appear to have low self-esteem when encouraged to perform academically in the classroom. Thirty-eight percent mentioned that altering their teaching strategies assists in keeping these students engaged and further indicated that these students prefer more verbal and kinesthetic learning activities. Additionally teachers and parents expressed the need for the home school connection to gain increased success and knowledge regarding these students and their cultural nuances. Communication was expressed as a key concern; 76% of parent respondents as well as 88% of all teacher respondents indicated that the need for open communication is necessary for student achievement. Parents and teachers, however, differed in their feelings about the level of communication; 60% of the parents did not feel welcomed into the education process.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; African American young men -- Education (Secondary); Education, Secondary -- Evaluation; Education, Secondary -- Parent participation; Achievement motivation

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hiatt-Michael, Diana B.;