Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Valerie Janesick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Leonard Burrello, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Bobbie Greenlee, Ed.D.

Committee Member

William Young, Ed.D.


resiliency, achievement gap, critical theory, segregation


The purpose of this study was to describe and explain the perspectives of five participants representing the school district and community regarding the achievement gap between Black and White students. This study attempted to answer two major questions:

1. What are the components of their perspectives and how they are formed?

2. What beliefs support or hinder that perspective? In this study social conflict theory was used as the theoretical framework for this study, harnessing the concept of resiliency as a new paradigm shift looking at Black students and community not as "deficient" or "deficits" but implementing their unique cultural assets and strengths to help close the achievement gap.

Trends show that academic disparities between Black students and White students are complicated by many factors, including family poverty, limited neighborhood resources, displacement of communities due to gentrification and/or government interventions, lack of power, placement into lower-track classes and often community hostility towards the current public education system in general. These disparities contribute to the academic achievement gap. Historically, these disparities have challenged, Black students ability to survive, cope and sustain resiliency. This study looked at resiliency can be used and embraced so that Black students can become their own advocates for change including inside the educational arena and in their external environments to help close the achievement gap.

This study relied on qualitative research methods, which is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry. The participants were selected according to the roles they play within the community and school district. Interviews were conducted two times with each of the participants regarding their perspectives. Other data was compiled from field notes and the researcher reflective journal. The data was coded and analyzed concerning the participants perception of the achievement gap.

The major findings of this study reveal that organizational vision, a true collaborative partnership between the district and community and the political will to change is key to closing the achievement gap. Each of the participants have a dual vision for the future, one, that recognizes the centrality of closing the achievement gap. They also reveal that present and past political policies are contributing factors as well.