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Perceptions of High School Teachers on Factors
Impacting African American Male Dropout

By: Soko Jeannot Zabalou

June 2, 2021

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Doctor of Education degree.

St. Thomas University
Miami Gardens, Florida

Approved:

__________________________

Katrina Pann, PhD, Associate Professor, St. Thomas University
Committee Chair

__________________________

Kennedy Maranga, PhD, Associate Professor, St. Thomas University
Committee Member

__________________________

Jose Perez, EdD, Adjunct Professor, St. Thomas University
Committee Member

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Copyright 2021 by Soko Jeannot Zabalou
All Rights Reserved

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I, Soko Jeannot Zabalou, understand that I am solely responsible for the content of this
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Perceptions of High School Teachers on Factors Impacting African American Male Dropout

Soko Jeannot Zabalou

I understand that U.S. Copyright Law protects this dissertation against unauthorized use. By
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By my signature below, I Soko Jeannot Zabalou assert that I have read the dissertation
publication manual, that my dissertation complies with the University’s published

dissertation standards and guidelines, and that I am solely responsible for any
discrepancies between my dissertation and the publication manual that may result in my
dissertation being returned by the library for failure to adhere to the published standards
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Dropout rates in high school are disproportionately high among African American male

students. It is not known what are the various factors that contribute to African American

male learners in Pennsylvania dropping out of high school, specifically as perceived by

their teachers. It is also unclear what key interventions may be helpful in preventing their

dropout. The purpose of this study was therefore to explore teacher perspectives on

factors and potential solutions for the high dropout cases among African American male

students in high school in Pennsylvania. A generic qualitative design guided the study, in

which fifteen teachers across CTE high schools in Pennsylvania were interviewed

individually. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings indicated that poor

academic performance and socioeconomic factors, lack of familial support, feelings of

exclusion from school, drug abuse and crime, boredom and negative attitudes,

absenteeism and truancy, and poor teacher-student relationships were the reasons for

student drop-out perceived by the teachers. In terms of potential solutions, teachers

identified increased efforts from teachers, support from administration, providing

financial support, teacher-parent collaboration, community support, teacher mentorships,

closely monitoring students and helping them, inclusive efforts, co-curricular activities,

and using less punitive disciplinary methods. It was concluded that resolving dropout

rates among African American male high school students requires combined efforts that

are focused on helping these students desire to stay in school while eliminating negative

influences that hinder their development.

Abstract

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Keywords: African American Male, dropout, dropout rates, teacher perspectives,

academic attainment, critical race theory, CTE School, High School in Pennsylvania,

Urban School

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My distinctive thanks go to my dissertation chair, Dr. Katrina Pann, Doctoral

Research Chair for accepting me as a student and working with me throughout the

dissertation process. You arrived at this doctoral program just when I needed you! I

would also like to thank my committee members, Dr. Kennedy Maranga, and Dr. Joe

Perez who were my first selection of the committee. You have provided me with

feedback throughout the process. Having you as part of this doctoral team was a wish

come true. You have provided me with knowledge and direction from the first year of

this dissertation and doctoral program and continued to do so throughout the entire

process. You all are truly the Saint Thomas University’s best!

I would also like to appreciate my friend, Dr. Chris Cappannelli, who was in my

cohort from the first day, displayed strong friendship over the doctoral years. You have

demonstrated thoughtfulness and encouragement for me in all aspects of this doctoral

journey. Without your support and involvement, I would have been lost in and

ambiguous on various issues pertaining to a couple of early classes in the program.

I also would like to thank the Lower Merion School District, Ardmore,

Pennsylvania for the financial support.

Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Toni Damon, Principal at Murrell Dobbins CTE,

Philadelphia, PA. and the Philadelphia School District for their support and

understanding throughout an amazing doctoral program and process.

Acknowledgments

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First of all, I give praise, honor, and glory to God Almighty! Without his love and

my faith in him, I could not have accomplished this work or overcome any other obstacle

in life. To my children, Michael-Davis Soko Zabalou, Claire Helene-Kokoua Zabalou,

Deborah Josephine-Kokoua Zabalou, Jeremiah Tika-David Zabalou, my sister Marie-

Chantal Zabalou, my Pastor Patrick Zozoro, and my friend Mr. Yapi Achi Emmanuel,

who supported me before, during, and after this journey, making my learning experience

possible and providing motivational guidance as always. I also dedicate this work to my

best friend Ms. Linda Ross Zabalou who guided me in my English learning endeavor. A

very special thanks go to my brother Georges Made Zabalou, who brought me to

America for a better life, passed away on March 18th, 2021, and was not able to see me

attain this goal. Finally, yet importantly, I would like to thank my deceased father, Tika

David Zabalou, brother Jules Dago Zabalou, and to the most, my mother Joséphine

Kokoua Zabalou, who reminded me often of a strong will to adapt to and endure in life

no matter the circumstance or obstacle. You all have motivated me, and I am truly

grateful!

Dedication

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Copyright Acknowledgement Form ……………………………………………………………………. iii

St. Thomas University Library Release Form……………………………………………………….. iv

Dissertation Manual Acknowledgments Form…………………………………………………………v

Abstract …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. vi

Acknowledgments …………………………………………………………………………………………. viii

Dedication ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… ix

List of Tables………………………………………………………………………………………………….xvi

CHAPTER ONE. INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………………….1

Introduction to the Problem ……………………………………………………………………………..1

Background, Context, and Theoretical Framework……………………………………………….4

Background ……………………………………………………………………………………………….4

Context ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..7

Theoretical Framework ………………………………………………………………………………..8

Critical Race Theory ………………………………………………………………………………..8

Theory of Cultural Ecology ……………………………………………………………………….9

Statement of the Problem ………………………………………………………………………………. 10

Purpose of the Study …………………………………………………………………………………….. 11

Research Questions ………………………………………………………………………………………. 12

Rationale, Relevance, and Significance ……………………………………………………………. 12

Rationale ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 12

Relevance ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 13

Significance …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 13

Table of Contents

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Nature of the Study ………………………………………………………………………………………. 14

Definition of Terms ……………………………………………………………………………………… 15

Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations ……………………………………………………. 17

Assumptions ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 17

Limitations ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 17

Delimitations …………………………………………………………………………………………… 18

Chapter One Summary ………………………………………………………………………………….. 19

CHAPTER TWO. LITERATURE REVIEW ……………………………………………………….. 20

Introduction to the Literature Review ………………………………………………………………. 20

Theoretical Framework …………………………………………………………………………………. 23

Critical Race Theory …………………………………………………………………………………. 23

The Theory of Cultural Ecology ………………………………………………………………….. 26

Review of the Research Literature ………………………………………………………………….. 28

Historical Context of Dropout Among African American Males ………………………. 28

School Factors and Dropout: School-to-Prison Pipeline ………………………………….. 30

Societal and Family Factors Contributing to Dropout Rates …………………………….. 33

Impact of High School Dropout on the African American Community ………………. 35

Teacher Perceptions ………………………………………………………………………………….. 37

Socioeconomic Factors ……………………………………………………………………………… 40

Attitudes Towards School and Dropout ………………………………………………………… 42

Academic Factors and Dropout …………………………………………………………………… 45

Dropout Prevention …………………………………………………………………………………… 47

Increasing Morale Through Increased Engagement …………………………………….. 47

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Positive Racial Identity ………………………………………………………………………….. 48

Restorative Justice Over Zero-Tolerance Policies ……………………………………….. 49

Chapter Two Summary …………………………………………………………………………………. 51

Recurring Themes in the Literature ……………………………………………………………… 51

Gap in the Literature …………………………………………………………………………………. 53

CHAPTER THREE. METHODOLOGY …………………………………………………………….. 56

Introduction to Chapter Three ………………………………………………………………………… 56

Research Methodology …………………………………………………………………………………. 57

Research Design ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 58

Target Population, Sampling Method, and Related Procedures …………………………….. 60

Target Population……………………………………………………………………………………… 60

Sampling Method……………………………………………………………………………………… 61

Sample Size …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 62

Setting ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 62

Recruitment …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 62

Data Sources ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 63

Interview Protocol…………………………………………………………………………………….. 63

Demographic Questionnaire ……………………………………………………………………….. 64

Data Collection ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 65

Data Analysis Procedures ……………………………………………………………………………… 66

Trustworthiness …………………………………………………………………………………………… 68

Credibility……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 68

Transferability …………………………………………………………………………………………. 68

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Dependability ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 69

Confirmability …………………………………………………………………………………………. 70

Ethical Issues ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 70

Conflict of Interest Assessment …………………………………………………………………… 70

Position Statement ……………………………………………………………………………………. 71

Ethical Issues in the Study …………………………………………………………………………. 72

Chapter Three Summary ……………………………………………………………………………….. 73

CHAPTER FOUR. DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS ………………………………………. 76

Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 76

Description of the Sample ……………………………………………………………………………… 77

Summary of the Results ………………………………………………………………………………… 79

Research Question 1 …………………………………………………………………………………. 79

Research Question 2 …………………………………………………………………………………. 80

Detailed Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………. 81

Research Question 1 …………………………………………………………………………………. 81

Theme 1: Poor Academic Performance …………………………………………………….. 81

Theme 2: Socioeconomic Factors …………………………………………………………….. 83

Theme 3: Lack of Family Support ……………………………………………………………. 85

Theme 4: Feelings of Exclusion from School …………………………………………….. 85

Theme 5: Boredom and Negative Attitude Towards School …………………………. 86

Theme 6: Crime and Drug Abuse …………………………………………………………….. 87

Theme 7: Absenteeism and Truancy …………………………………………………………. 88

Theme 8: Poor Teacher–Student Relationships …………………………………………… 89

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Research Question 2 …………………………………………………………………………………. 90

Theme 1: Increased Teacher Effort to Understand and Help Students …………….. 90

Theme 2: Improving Support from School Administrators …………………………… 91

Theme 3: Provision of Financial Support ………………………………………………….. 92

Theme 4: Teacher–Parent Collaboration……………………………………………………. 93

Theme 5: Community Playing an Active Role ……………………………………………. 95

Theme 6: Closer Monitoring and Provision of Academic Assistance for Poorly

Performing Students ………………………………………………………………………………. 95

Theme 7: Teacher Mentorship …………………………………………………………………. 96

Theme 8: Focus on an Inclusive and Participatory School Environment …………. 97

Theme 9: Emphasis on Cocurricular Activities …………………………………………… 98

Theme 10: Implementation of Less Punitive Discipline Practices ………………….. 99

Chapter Four Summary …………………………………………………………………………………. 99

CHAPTER FIVE. CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSION ……………………………………. 102

Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 102

Summary and Discussion of the Results …………………………………………………………. 103

Research Question 1 ……………………………………………………………………………….. 103

Research Question 2 ……………………………………………………………………………….. 106

Discussion of the Results in Relation to the Literature ……………………………………… 108

Research Question 1 ……………………………………………………………………………….. 108

Research Question 2 ……………………………………………………………………………….. 110

Theoretical Framework ……………………………………………………………………………. 111

Limitations ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 113

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Implications of the Results for Practice ………………………………………………………….. 114

Recommendations for Further Research …………………………………………………………. 116

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………………… 117

Appendix A. IRB Approval Form …………………………………………………………………….. 119

Appendix B. Informed Consent Form ……………………………………………………………….. 120

Appendix C. Interview Protocol ……………………………………………………………………….. 126

REFERENCES ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 129

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Table 1. Themes, Categories, and Codes Identified for Research Question 1 ……………… 80

Table 2. Themes, Categories, and Codes Identified for Research Question 2 ……………… 82

List of Tables

1

Introduction to the Problem

Education is heralded as a key to future success and the way out of poverty for

many individuals. Education plays a vital role in determining individual wellbeing in the

future, both in terms of employment and the ability to interact with others. According to

Rumberger and Losen (2016), the existing system of education is characterized by high

school graduation attainment, which is a “stepping-stone in an individual’s professional

journey” (p. 24). Thomas et al. (2013) noted that graduating from high school or the

equivalent is a qualification requirement for obtaining jobs in high demand industries. It

is therefore crucial for the younger generation to receive a complete high school

education, to unlock the maximum life prospects.

Unfortunately, the graduation rate in this country has slipped to a level that

threatens the well-being of our society (Murnane, 2013). According to Kena et al. (2015),

approximately 33% of all students in high school and almost 50% of all Blacks,

Hispanics and native Americans fail to graduate from high school. Education Week

(2017) reported that there are 8,306 dropouts daily, which results in more than three

million per year. This is a particular and longstanding problem among African American

males who graduate from high school at significantly lower rates than members of other

groups (Bell, 2014). Different regions have had different deviations in the graduation rate

across different communities. In Pennsylvania, where the proposed study took place,

there has been a significant difference of 17% in the graduation rates of African

American males versus their white counterparts (Pennsylvania Department of Education,

2016). The Nationwide statistical report in 2016 highlighted that the graduation rate

CHAPTER ONE. INTRODUCTION

2

among black Americans was 69%, 73% among Hispanics and 86% among the whites

(Snyder et al., 2016).

The differences in academic success and persistence between black males and

other students within the education system have been associated with a variety of factors,

including individual attitude towards education, socioeconomic factors, and the social

environment (Strayhorn, 2014). A student with a negative attitude towards education, for

example, is unable to take into consideration key elements which define educational

success, since they are unable to get inspiration from individuals who have been

successful in education (Bell, 2014). Poor students lack resources to compete with other

students hence impact on their decision to discontinue their education (Curran, 2016).

The majority of African American families are low-income earners, and many of them do

not prioritize education over other basic needs, which leads to higher dropout due to lack

of fees (Curran, 2016).

There have been significant efforts toward change in the education system. The

federal government is becoming highly engaged in addressing existing challenges in

education, in ensuring that all Americans receive a quality education and can build their

future (McFarland et al., 2017). The implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

legislation, for example, was strategic and aimed at combating the high level of drop out,

especially among the African American communities, due to different socioeconomic

factors and negative influence from the surroundings (Losen et al., 2016). The NCLB act

was put in place partially to improve teacher commitment to their duties, which include

better student engagement. Every state must raise the quality of education, which

includes the recruitment of highly qualified teachers. As part of NCLB requirements,

3

schools must establish clear learning standards, develop an annual assessment to measure

student progress, set a cut off level as well as report to the public the critical education

outcomes based on diverse categories (Bell, 2014).

However, despite the integration of these policies and legislation aimed at

monitoring education standards across the United States, the dropout rates have remained

high, especially among the African American male students. The national graduation rate

for black males is currently 59%, Latinos have a graduation rate of 65%, 80% for white

males, and the whites had an 80% national graduation rate (Harper, 2015). These

statistics highlight the need to understand the factors that are contributing to these gaps

between black males and other ethnicities. Understanding the factors that define these

differences is essential in building critical interventions (Strayhorn, 2014).

In understanding these differences, it is crucial to concentrate on the perceptions

of different stakeholders in education across different settings (Kena et al, 2015).

Teachers are particularly well placed to provide an understanding of these changes within

the education system. Teachers interact closely and often with students from different

social classes and thus can provide a comprehensive consideration of crucial factors in

school drop-out. Though there is existing information regarding factors that influence

school dropout, mostly quantitative in nature, there is less information available

regarding the perceptions of teachers on the dropout rate of African American male

students, and in particular from a qualitative point of view (Nardi, 2018; Terrill, 2018;

Wright, 2015).

The purpose of this qualitative study was therefore to explore the perceptions of

teachers on factors that contribute to the high school dropout rate of African American

4

males in one urban high school in Pennsylvania. Key interventions that may be

considered in creating a strong dropout prevention program for African American male

students in this school were also explored, from the teachers’ perspectives. Fifteen high

school teachers in Pennsylvania who have experience teaching African American male

high school students were interviewed to collect the data for this study. Specific research

questions addressed included the following.

1. What are teachers’ perceptions regarding factors that influence African

American male students to drop out of high school, in an urban career and

technical education school in Pennsylvania?

2. What are the critical interventions that teachers believe could be used to

address school dropout among African American male high school students?

Background, Context, and Theoretical Framework

The proposed qualitative study explored the perceptions of teachers on factors

that contribute to the high school dropout rate of African American males in one urban

high school in Pennsylvania. Key interventions that may be considered in creating a

strong dropout prevention program for African American male students in this school

were also explored, from the teachers’ perspectives.

Background

African Americans have long had significant challenges in their pursuit of quality

education, which was initially based on racial profiling. In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court

racially segregated the public facilities in the Plessy vs. Fergusson case. In this case, the

court ruled that segregation of blacks and white in the use of public facilities was legal as

long as the facilities for both whites and blacks were equal. This ruling followed another

5

landmark court decision in 1857, which asserted that slaves, whether free or not, could

not be regarded as citizens. The 1896 decision barred blacks from sharing the same buses,

schools and other public facilities under the Jim Crow’s laws, where the separate but

equal doctrine stood for six decades until the Brown vs. Board of education case, which




QUALITATIVE EXPLORATORY CASE STUDY ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND CURRICULUM FACTORS ON AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE SCHOOL DROPOUTS

By

Zenovia Braham

Copyright XXXX

A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment

of Requirements for the Degree

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

With Specialization in Curriculum and Instruction

University of Phoenix

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ABSTRACT

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DEDICATION

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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TABLE OF CONTENT

EXLORATORY CASE STUDY ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND CURRIUCLUM FACTORS ON AFRICAN AMERICAN SCHOOL DROPOUTS 1
Chapter One 12
Background of the Problem 14
Problem Statement 15
Purpose of the Study 16
Population and sample 16
Significance of the Study 16
Nature of the Study 17
Research Questions 1
Framework. 2
Definition of Terms. 3
Traditional school: The Florida Department of Education (2013) defined a traditional school as any public school that offers a conventional education and adheres to the state department of education policies. 4
Assumptions 4
Limitations 4
Delimitations 5
Chapter Summary 5
Chapter 2 Literature Review 7
Title Searches and Documentation 7
Historical Content 8
Historical Background of Dropouts 9
The Price of Dropping Out 14
Causes of Student Dropouts 16
Individual-level Factors 17
Causes of Student Dropouts 19
Individual-level. 19
Institutional-level Factors 24
Student Engagement Factors 25
Recommended Interventions to Address Dropouts. 30
Methodological Review 34
Summary 35
Chapter 3 Research Methodology. 38
The material gleaned is usually in the form of written data, recorded information, or oral recordings. People tend to recall or retell their experiences differently from one study subject to the next. The researcher depends on the subject’s honesty and truthfulness when describing their life experiences while interviewing with them. The subjects of my study will be ten African American male students who dropped out of school in North Florida before completing a high school diploma. A qualitative inductive analysis method will be used to collect information on each participant’s experiences and viewpoints. At the same time, that impacted their decision to drop out of the program in high school. These students’ experiences will provide insight into the elements that impacted their decision, such as the school’s environment, teachers, and other students’ opinions. 38
Research Method and Design Appropriateness 38
Research Questions 39
Population and Sample 40
Informed Consent and Reliability 41
All documents will be kept secure in the lockable file cabinet. Participants will be selected from a list of suggestions compiled by students at the Seagrove Academy (pseudonym) dropout program (Wang, 2014). Participants will be informed of the time and place of each interview session and the study’s overall goal before participating. Among the standards that were followed were: 42
1. Evaluating the research to determine whether it was ethically acceptable. 42
2. Removing risks to participants. 42
3. Obtaining written consent from each participant. 42
4. Allowing participants to withdraw from the study at any time. 42
5. Ensuring that participants were not placed in any danger. 42
After five years, all of the information and data collected during this study will be shredded and destroyed. 42
Throughout the study, which will adhere closely to ethical norms, each participant will be treated with decency and respect. Participants will not be subjected to any mental or physical risks at any time throughout the research process. Throughout the whole data collection process, all IRB criteria were followed to the letter. Participants will be allowed to withdraw from the study if they feel uncomfortable or hesitant about participating in the data collection process. Participants will be informed that they may be withdrawn from the study if they feel any pain, and any issues that arise will be dealt with promptly and efficiently (Zamawe, 2015).The participants in this study will never be forced to participate in the research or provide any personal information that they do not want to share. 42
Instrumentation 43
The initial data collection technique will be semi-structured interview questions, which will be used to obtain information on the increase in African American male dropout rate in my descriptive qualitative research. The objective is to develop a set of ten interview questions and obtain approval from the committee before implementing the protocol and attach it as an appendix. 43
Credibility and transferability 44
The information will be gathered via 30- to 60-minute in-person interviews. The data will be captured precisely as the person said it, and it may include grammatical mistakes or slang phrases. During the second interview, the participants will be invited to go over their answers from the first interview and make any necessary modifications or edits to the material that had been recorded. Participants will be asked to do the third interview to verify that the information they provided was accurately transcribed and a genuine reflection of their thoughts, emotions, and views. The interviews will be conducted to gather as much information as possible regarding the participant’s school experiences that led to their choice to drop out. 46
In my qualitative exploratoy case study on causes of increased male dropout rates, open and closed questionnaires will be used to prepare questions for participants to take on what has caused the increase in dropout rate among African Americans. Only sixteen-year-old participants will take part in the questionnaires as they will provide reliable and valid answers throughout the study; there will be a ratio of 3:1 for boys and girls respectively to take part in the survey. 46
Finally, I plan to survey to gather information from the surrounding schools. To contact thousands of potential participants, surveys must be used. This guarantees that the sample from which findings are drawn is more accurate. People are more honest in their answers to surveys because of the anonymity of the process. To get reliable data, you must encourage your participants to be as candid as possible with their responses. 46
Data analysis 46
Summary 47
References 48
Appendix 54
Appendix A 54
Appendix B 54
Three (3) month follow-up: 56
Final contact (prior to start of next school year): 56
Appendix c 57





Chapter One

African American males in the United States face many obstacles in their pursuit of a high school diploma. This is according to the research by Jackson (2018) indicating that most African American males usually fail to complete their education because of several issues like substance abuse, addictions, or even financial distress . During the 2014-2015 academic year it is evident that a significant proportion of African American males failed to graduate from high school in north Florida compared to European American boys, who graduated at a lower rate (Florida Department of Education [FDOE], 2013).

According to the Florida Department of Education, the dropout rate for African American males in north Florida was 34.1 per cent in 2012-2013, higher than the dropout rate for European American males in the same region (FDOE, 2013). It is nevertheless critical to address the many factors that lead African American males to drop out of public school, even though the dropout rate in north Florida is somewhat lower than the national average. Despite attempts to lower the dropout rate among African American males in north Florida, the percentage increases.

Based on data from the Florida Department of Education (2013), the high dropout rate among African American males will be attributed to various behavioral issues, suspensions, low grades, and absenteeism. Despite fierce debate about the methodology used to calculate the dropout rate in north Florida, the number of students dropping out continues to rise (Canfield et al., 2016). Every year, the representation by the education department suggests that an increasing number of African American males fail to complete their high school education (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). Graduation rates in Florida will be calculated by estimating the number of students who will enroll in high school as freshmen and the number of diplomas given after four years (Education Information & Accountability Services Data Report [EIASDR], 2012). In this sense, the estimations put forth by Jackson (2020) establishes that the limited graduation tendencies amongst many male African Americans is characteristic of social, financial, and behavioral elements.

When Ogbu (2013) examined the grades of African American and European American students, he discovered a significant achievement gap between the two groups of students. The gap in graduation rates between African American males and other ethnic groups continues, even though districts use various methods to calculate the dropout rate. According to Whitaker (2017), dropouts earn less money and are more likely to depend on government assistance than workers with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. For instance, lack of high school graduation will increase one’s chances of being arrested or otherwise in problems with the law (Jackson, 2020).

According to Whitaker’s research, high school graduation is required for 75% African Americans incarcerated. According to available statistics, African American males account for the majority of individuals receiving public assistance and imprisoned (Whitaker, 2017). As a result of African American males failing to finish high school, the communities in which they live have fewer productive members, and the overall workforce decreases (Campbell, 2015). African American male high school students must be better retained if educators and lawmakers work together to create programs to help them stay in school. The high dropout rate among African American male students is quite disturbing especially in a society that lays emphasis upon the education of all children. In this sense, it is quite clear that education should be the priority in improving standards of living in the society as well as attaining the necessary professional achievements (Jackson, 2020).

Dropout rates among African American males in Florida’s educational institutions have consistently remained high for various years. According to the Florida Department of Education (2013), a student who withdraws from school without transferring to another school, or in preference of home schooling program, or an adult education program is considered to be a dropout. As of 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that the status dropout rate for those between the ages of 16 and 24 who haven’t graduated from high school is about 1 in 5. It doesn’t matter what language is used; a dropout is defined as anybody who does not complete high school or an educational program that could result in a high school diploma.

For this reason, African American male will be less likely than white men to finish high school. They will face a variety of difficulties and risks in the future, including lower-paying jobs and imprisonment. For African American males to remain in school, it may be essential to meet their educational needs in public schools (Ziefle, 2018).


Background of the Problem

   Male students who leave high school experience difficulties such as violence in their community, creating a hostile environment for both males and females (Barquissau, 2018). Education is a fundamental resource; without it, young people experience a lesser awareness, leading to poverty (Ziefle, 2018). Male high school dropouts sometimes regret their decision when there are no economic supports for high school dropouts (Camper, 2019).   

According to Canfield et al. (2016), Homestead, Florida, has recently experienced a steep increase in high school dropouts. Canfield et al. reported results from insufficient environmental supports and low academic achievement among African American male students. Ziefle (2018) showed 34.1% of African American male student’s drop out. Studying the reason why African American males drop out of school will close the gap of school dropouts. With evidence and measurements to what interventions to implement may bring constructive insight into the problem of African American male high school dropouts in Miami Dade County (Canfield et al., 2016). 

The issue of school dropouts amongst African American males is becoming a problem to most American societies especially in Florida, considering the rising cases of incarceration. Through the research there will be implicit assessment of the critical reasons that usually influence the increasing school dropout rates among students. It is the understanding of many scholars that individuals dropping out before achieving high school diploma are subject to face challenging life experiences such as the lack of employment, substance abuse, and social misunderstanding (Canfield et al., 2016). By this, most high school dropouts are either influenced by business opportunities, issues of substance abuse, the lack of financial support, or else, peer influence. However, main reason for dropping out of high school is student engagement, which negatively influences students’ education.

Particularly, environmental factors play an integral role by influencing the dropout rates amongst most of the African American Males in Florida. For instance, most of the participants did indeed term that their education was of no priority to them because of the influencing social and economic factors. Gaining the necessary education in the US will always require individuals to facilitate implicit stability especially from a financial point. In essence, the study seeks to establish the various reasons and mechanisms that drive the increasing dropout rates among African American male students. Most of the needs identifiable to being the facilitators of the increasing dropout rates should be addressed by educators to ensure improved education and instruction performances. Likewise, African Americans are considerably in pursuit of better education and life standards, hence the rising dropout rates in Florida represents the notion that the African American male students are often prioritizing upon other social, financial, or family issues.


Problem Statement

According to the latest qualitative figures provided by Freeman (2015), black male students in Northern Florida’s public schools have a high dropout rate and poor academic performance. Through this research assessment, the researcher explores into the various issues that often influence the provision of education in Florida thus determine factors that promote the rising drop-out rates among male African Americans. According to the Florida Department of Education, 34, 1 per cent of African American males enrolled in high school programs in 2016-2017 dropped out, compared to 30 per cent of white males. African American males are more likely than other boys to drop out of school due to discriminatory practices that lead them to get disengaged from school and have a negative opinion of the educational system, according to research ((Williams, 2015).

Black male students who are suspended or expelled often demonstrate a lack of interest in their academics, develop hostility toward authorities, and feel like outsiders in their communities ((Williams, 2015). Several reasons may be contributing to the high dropout rate among African American male students, including those listed above. All efforts to decrease the dropout rate among African American males in the United States, including the No Child Left behind Act of 2001, educational reforms, rigorous curriculum, and highly qualified teachers, have been unsuccessful have had minimal effects in reducing dropout rates. By examining the educational experiences of local African American males, this kind of research will aid in the resolution of the local dropout problem.


Purpose of the Study

The research study seeks to establish an implicit understanding about the reasons behind the rising cases of high school dropouts amongst male African Americans. The researcher lays emphasis upon high school students from south Florida. Through the research analysis, there is implicit investigation of the impactful elements in the school environment, such as rules and procedures, which affect the decision by African American boys in North Florida to drop out of school (Lewis, 2018). According to the study’s findings, teachers, educational stakeholders, and community leaders may utilize the findings to help create programs to decrease the dropout rate among African American male students, according to the researchers. The researcher will apply mixed research methods to explore into the specific factors that often influence the rising rates of school dropouts in south Florida.



Population and sample

Specifically, the researcher centers the research study upon qualitative elements with a specific population sample involving various high school students. Through focus groups, observation and semi structure interview, the researcher is able to facilitate the collection of data and information regarding the issues influencing school dropouts. The educators who will be interviewed were randomly selected to limit on biasness and to ensure that the data/information is valid. Men who did not complete high school will be the participants of this study, which will be carried out in the boys and girls center. In this study, the educators who work at Boys and Girls club learning center will be taken into consideration.


Significance of the Study

Schools across the nation are dealing with the issue of school dropout especially with the rising number of school dropouts each year (Canfield et al., 2016). The high school dropout rate in the United States has garnered considerable media attention in recent years (Branson, 2014). According to the reasons presented through the study by Branson (2014) why African American males do not complete high school. A lot of this study’s results will be helpful to educators and district officials who oversee creating methods and curricula. With this information, school authorities in Florida may be able to create preventive programs that would enable the decrease of the ever increasing high school dropout rate among African American males (Apprey, 2014).

To help educators comprehend how students are at the risk of dropping out, particularly African American boys, it is important to develop proper understanding of the school environment. By laying emphasis upon emerging dropout trends, educators are able to introduce instructional curriculums to support important societal changes. This would enable instructors to create more effective programs for these students (Mengo, 2016). This study’s results may also be used to identify African American male students who exhibit signs of dropping out in the present.

The study’s findings will be shared with educators in South Florida to increase awareness about the dropout problem among African American males (Huang, 2014). Additionally, it will offer insight into the African American male student’s school experience to instructors, educational administrators. This research may help develop efforts to reduce the number of students who drop out of school with curriculum and instruction being tailored to suit the specific student needs.


Nature of the Study

This qualitative exploratory case study will engage African American male students enrolled in a public high school in south Florida but dropped out before earning a high school diploma (Galster, 2016). The research study involved the use of observation, focus group and interview questions to critique determine the correlation of the various factors influencing the increasing rates of school drop outs in North Florida among African American males. It was determined that purposive sampling would select 10 African American males who entered a public-school program in the ninth grade but did not finish their high school education. Personal interviews (will be conducted during private meetings) and telephone interviews (will be conducted with people who could not be questioned in person) through this nature this is how data will be collected. Participant convenience will be considered when arranging the interviews. The participants consent will be granted to have their interviews recorded (Holland, 2020). The study attempted to explain the phenomenon of high school dropouts by analyzing the experiences of each individual who had done so.

Qualitative research is used to identify and to isolate the human behavior, feelings, emotions, opinions, and decisions of individuals to show patterns in phenomenon using questionnaires, interviews, and other forms of human centered data analysis (Jia, 2016). The researcher will utilize the semi structured interview and developed open ended questions that allowed the 10 individuals interviewed to express themselves and their experiences fully

Case studies, as a part of qualitative research, are used when researchers and scholars are interested in studying questions based on how and why a phenomenon occurs or occurred. This study will utilize the case study research design because the researcher will be trying to determine why the phenomenon under evaluation continues to occur. According to Cooper and Schindler (2013), case studies should be used to study historical phenomenon and data. This study will be completed as a exploratory case study completed through the qualitative method (Barry, 2017). A qualitative exploratory case study examines phenomenon in the real-life contexts in which it occurred. The researcher used the qualitative exploratory case study in this study to evaluate the phenomenon of the perpetually high African American male dropout, to determine why this phenomenon occurs by studying the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of men in this demographic.




Research Questions

Qualitative studies are characterized by open-ended and constantly shifting study subjects. According to Creswell, to get insight into human experiences, the researcher must first select the broadest issue that can be answered by the study team (Harris, 2016).

1. What specific events influenced an African American male’s decision to drop out of a public high school in south Florida?

2. How did the relationships between African American males and school officials influence the number of pupils who graduated from high school?

3. What are the most common misunderstandings among African American male students who drop out of school before completing their degree?


Conceptual Framework

Following Ogbu’s (2013) the theoretical framework used in this study was based on the school experiences of African American pupils. Dr Ogbu investigated the factors that contribute to racial inequalities in educational and economic performance. Ogbu (2013), a researcher who specialized in the problems that African American students face in the educational system, highlighted some of the perspectives of African American males in the school setting (Holland, 2020). In the words of Fordham and Ogbu, “African American children do poorly academically because they experience extreme ambivalence and emotional factors.These children suffer from a lack of intellectual self-confidence, and as a result, they begin to believe that they do not belong in a school setting (Gonzalez, 2016).

Schooling and education are negatively seen in many African American communities due to social issues and peer pressure, among other factors (Freeman, 2015). When African American men in danger of dropping out are forced to choose between social acceptance and academic success, they are disconnected from educational institutions. The data suggests that “ambivalence, emotional dissonance, and social restrictions hinder African-American students who may be academically competent from putting out the necessary effort and perseverance to complete homework assignments”. In light of these conditions, their academic performance in school is poor. According to Wright, Weeks, and McLaughlin, “African American students’ views about themselves and race are intimately linked to (a) their educational and social growth, (b) their judgments of the importance of education, and (c) their present reality”. Each person’s high school experience is unique, but the transition may be challenging for African American males (Middleton, 2020).

It will be necessary for these children to adapt to a new school and new people and new rules. According to Ogbu (2013), African Americans were forced to attend school in a culture incompatible with their cultural heritage. For African American male students, the new changes and the transfer are often challenging to assess. As a result, new views have developed that affect their experiences in the new environment. When African American males enter high school for the first time, new expectations and social standards are established (Mzuza, 2014). These expectations and standards are very different from those held by people of other races.

In the United States, racism towards black people has created a cultural subculture known as African American culture (Magino, 2013). This kind of thinking was characterized by Ogbu (2013) as having an oppositional cultural identification. High school experiences for African American male students are influenced by several variables, including personal values, personal experiences, and personal viewpoints. Because of errors, misconceptions, and a lack of supervision, many African American boys and men fail in school, particularly in secondary education (Kaunda, 2019). Because the participants’ responses were used to investigate why African American males drop out of school before finishing their high school graduation, an appropriate conceptual framework was employed in this study.





Definition of Terms

Terms used throughout this study are defined as follows:

African American students: “Students of African descent born in the United States of America” (Holzman, 2008).

Dropout: The Florida Department of Education (2013) defined a dropout as “a student who withdraws from school for any of several reasons without transferring to another school, home education program, or adult education program”.

Graduate: A graduate is defined as a student who completes all high school requirements to receive a high school diploma (Florida Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, 2010).






School year: The 12-month period beginning on the first day of school “in which dropouts from the previous summer reported for the year and grade in which they fail to enroll” (U.S. Department of Education, 2013).Traditional school: The Florida Department of Education (2013) defined a traditional school as any public school that offers a conventional education and adheres to the state department of education policies.



Assumptions

Participants in the research will be expected to be open, honest, and devoid of prejudice when expressing their ideas and opinions during the data collection process.  The correctness of the information collected will be assessed based on the assumption that the material gathered will be truthful and accurate (Kim, 2015). There will be a deliberate effort made to ensure that the research is conducted in an unbiased way. Participants will not be forced into giving inaccurate or exaggerated information at any point throughout the data collection procedure; as a result, the data adequately represented their thoughts and feelings as conveyed via their words and voices during the study.



Limitations

The study will be conducted with a group of African American males who dropped out of school after ninth grade but did not complete their high school education requirements. The inferences could be facilitated from student recollections about issues of education and their inability to facilitate the necessary accomplishment of studies (Robison, 2017). As a result, many participants had difficulty remembering specific events from their school days that may have impacted their choice to drop out of the program (Kirshner, 2010). The results of this study may be contaminated by researcher bias, misunderstanding of data, and participant responses due to its qualitative nature. Consequently, using a third party to double-check the collected responses from the sample participants enables for the removal of any discrepancies or biasness. The danger of bias in this study is to reduce to the bare minimum, thanks to these methods.


Delimitations

To keep the scope of the inquiry manageable, the researcher, will impose the following restrictions on the investigation: Specifically, the research will focus on the experiences of adult African American males in northern Florida who had dropped out of public schools while in high school. The study emphasizes solely upon African American males who dropped out and did not complete their secondary education because of numerous reasons and elements.

Additionally, the findings of this study will not intend to be extrapolated to a broader population. As a substitute, the goal of this qualitative investigation is to identify the numerous influencing factors that cause the rising issues of high school dropouts amongst African American …