Courtne Thomas

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Thompson, Carol


African American middle school students; Academic achievement; Girls--Education


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the academic experiences of four grade 6, high-achieving Black females in an urban middle school. Using the interpretive lenses of Feminism, Critical Race Theory, Critical Race Feminism, Intersectionality and Identity Formation, roles and identities were explored with word choice and language analysis. Habits and factors contributing to the participants' success revealed their beliefs about academic achievement. Through the use of narrative inquiry, data were collected from semi-structured in-depth individual interviews, observations and researcher field notes, personal autobiographical narratives, archival document reviews and artifacts. Findings of this study revealed that participants exhibited critical roles in their academic success and demonstrated strong academic identities. All four participants described challenges they faced and what contributed to their academic success despite those challenges. The participants acknowledged both intrinsic and extrinsic factors that contribute to their success. Some intrinsic factors include self-respect, motivation and vision while extrinsic factors are positive parental influences, caring educators, friends and community members. Though the four participants acknowledge their race and gender, more emphasis is placed on their academic identity.