Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Jennifer McLean

Abstract

African American students across income classes have been found to struggle with mathematics, impeding their ability to complete college, pursue lucrative careers, and address socioeconomic problems. Using the tenets of liberation and critical race theory, this qualitative case study explored the perceptions of a small group of 8 African American adults as to what they believe to be the root causes of mathematics achievement disparity for African American K-14 students, and what role the African American community can play in ameliorating these disparities. As most related studies are on low income communities, this study focused on an affluent African American community. Standardized math test performance data were gathered for local public schools, and 8 African American community leaders were interviewed; all but one were parents and 5 were science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals. Participants identified 4 root causes of disparities and 4 roles the community can play in addressing them. Root causes related to stunted aspirations, cultural obstacles, academic barriers, and poor rewards. Roles included funding a parallel culturally-responsive academic support system, inducing African American organizations to improve support for academic initiatives, improve children's understanding of the importance of math, and strengthen the community's communications with schools. Curriculum for a community training program was designed to support these roles. The results of this study support social change by informing stakeholders on how disparities manifest in mathematics achievement, even in an affluent African American community, and by providing information about how to leverage community participation in developing more culturally relevant and sustainable academic interventions.