Ja'Shanna Jones

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education


Raivetz, Mark


Academic achievement; Urban schools


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


This study was conducted in order to explore the depths of internal and external factors within the urban school community that effect student self-perceptions and academic achievement, so that programs/interventions are developed to meet the needs of urban students. The internal and external factors identified for the purpose of this study were parental achievement, parental and community involvement, school morale, teacher quality, students peer groups, and resources among internal and external educational factors. The researcher examined test scores and survey data of the entire middle school in the first phase of the study. During the second phase of the study, open-ended interviews were conducted along with observations, and collected documents. The study highlighted how high achieving urban middle school students of the same socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds were able to succeed under conditions similar to those of their urban middle school counterparts. That is, if a small portion of urban school students were able to achieve given the same educational factors, what prevented other students from doing so? The results of the study indicated that students succeeded when there was collaboration amongst external and internal stakeholders, students had a strong value or moral base, and an innate drive to succeed as measured by the open-ended interviews and classroom observations by the researcher. Student success and self-perceptions are strongly influenced by the external home and/or community environment. Despite the various efforts of internal school stakeholders to reach students through extra-curricular activities, additional instructional programs, or outreach initiates, those parents and students that sought the guidance and resources of the school on a consistent basis succeeded in achieving success according to the criteria of the study. As a result of the study I hope to promote programs and initiatives that model the behaviors and attitudes of peers, and reinforce programs and initiatives that meet the needs of students, helping a greater number to succeed. Future programs will seek to further establish a stronger connection to the external community. What was discovered throughout the course of the study was that many urban students that have failed derive from a hereditary line of academic failure. The students throughout the study that failed state tests and exhibited negative social and academic behaviors did not utilize the internal and external resources available within the school community. In addition, there was a lack of buy-in and collaboration amongst educational stakeholders that is vital for student academic success. Yet when students practice academic behaviors such as participating in instructional and non-instructional programs, utilize external and internal educational resources, and have an overall positive attitude toward educational stakeholders, they succeed. Overall this study revealed that in order to close the achievement gap of urban students, all educational stakeholders must invest time, social, and financial resources to ensure their academic success. Currently research suggests that students that pass state tests enter and are able to compete in a global market and competitive society (Darling-Hammond, 2011). For the students included in this study, the results confirm the findings in the literature that educators must invest in programs and state initiatives that surpass what is encouraged in the traditional educational classroom (Noguera, 2011). Educators must meet the needs and value the cultural norms outside of their personal experiences (Ladson-Billings, 2006). Society must recognize the barriers that many students in urban communities face and address those barriers so that students can succeed (Noguera, 2011).