A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT GAP IN A MIDWESTERN SUBURB
In an effort to address a broad educational issue - the student achievement gap between European Americans and African Americans in public suburban schools - this qualitative case study examined the phenomenology of the social world, as conferred in interpretative discourse, that employs a Verstehen framework attempting to understand the culture in higher socio-economic suburban schools as well as how educators and other school personnel construct the meaning of the achievement gap in their social world. Using phenomenology, the crux of the discussion focuses on how teachers, administrators, and other school personnel understand the problem within their school setting(s). This interpretative study centered on ways that educators understand student achievement gaps in suburban school settings. Data analysis was initiated with data generated by the Ohio Department of Education’s state-mandated tests and report cards and continued with the collection of open-ended surveys and interviews. In data analysis, theme response categories were formed. For each, further analysis was conducted by sub-groups (e.g. race, gender, professional position, etc.) in accordance with the most frequently mentioned themes. The outcome of the analysis was a discussion of the research questions. The methods employed were used to gain greater insight into how the Egan Local School District (a pseudonym) employees understand the achievement gap in relation to their “life-world” experiences. This study found that the respondents were very uncomfortable when they addressed the achievement gap. They believed that it had multiple causes, including broad social forces, social class, and a lack of cultural competence. African Americans were more likely to attribute the achievement gap to school or district factors than were European American respondents. The most striking differences, however, were between administrators, teachers, and support staff. Further research is needed to examine student tracking and its purpose for providing intervention and support versus minimizing student expectations and academic course exposure. Additional gaps which might be studied include an income gap, a conversation gap, and a role model gap.
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:student achievement gap gaps in suburban schools phenomenological study of minority interpretative the case achivement ga
Date of Publication:01/01/2007