Administrator Perceptions of the Achievement Gap Between African American Students and Other Subpopulations

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Administration

Date of Award

Fall 2013


The consistent underperformance of African American students casts a disparaging shadow on the success of American public schools. Research was necessary to understand the reason for such a difference in scores. Parents, teachers, and administrators must understand the reason for the gap in order to determine the strategies and support systems that need to be in place for better gains academically with the African American subpopulation. The history of African American education in the literature review has revealed the reason behind lagging scores. A history of inequality in the services and resources provided to African American students compared to White students has added to the gap. The review of literature has generally shown that the neglect in the depth or complexity of instruction and ineffective leadership has created several obstacles to the success specific to the African American race. This study included an analysis of principal perceptions of the achievement gap between African American and White students. The researcher analyzed interview data from administrators of campuses with a substantial number of African American students within the subgroup. The study revealed factors within the principal's role that affect academic achievement with African American students. The three themes that developed from structured analysis of interview data were as follows: (a) staff must build authentic relationships to increase students' intrinsic motivation, (b) needs-driven instruction generates higher individual student achievement, and (c) staff members require professional development to meet students' needs. If public education is truly about educating all students, then all students deserve an equal chance at successful academic performance and the principal has the influence to change the achievement gap.


Casey Brown

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision