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Educational Leadership and African-American Student Alienation during the Transition to High School

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Abstract:

This paper reports results of a multisite, mixed-method case study of 50 at-risk African-American eighth grade students in five public schools that examined how administrator and teacher educational leadership practice facilitated or impeded students’ sense of alienation from school. Building on the work of Seeman (1959, 1975, 1983), Middleton (1969), LeCompte and Dworkin (1991), deMarrais and Lecompte (1999), and Brooks (2006), the study used a sociological theoretical framework that conceived alienation as taking one or a combination of five forms: (a) powerlessness, (b) meaninglessness, (c) normlessness, (d) isolation, and (e) estrangement. Previous studies have connected a high sense of student alienation to dropping out or tuning out of school (LeCompte & Dworkin, 1991). Researchers have also explored the relationship between administrator and teacher behavior and student alienation at certain levels such as elementary schools (Zielinski & Hoy, 1983) and high schools (Brooks, Hughes & Brooks, 2008). However, no study has looked specifically at how leadership behavior during the transition into high school influences student decisions to dropout of school.
The five schools were from Alabama, a state with one of the highest high school dropout rates in the nation at 42% (Suitts & Veasey, 2009) and a purposeful sample of 50 at-risk eighth grade African-American students were chosen for the study. Criteria for at-risk status varied slightly from school to school but included indicators such as grade point average, reading level, excessive disciplinary referrals and a high number of absences. Qualitative data were collected from students, teachers and administrators via audio and videotaped interviews, through various formal and informal documents and by participant observations in naturalistic settings (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Quantitative data included student achievement on standardized tests, classroom assessment data, discipline referrals, and scores from the school connectedness survey (Brown & Evans, 2002).
Findings suggest that student alienation is exacerbated by authoritative leadership behavior, a lack of direct two-way communication between students and leaders, and by culturally irrelevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995, 1997) and lessened by student-centered leadership, democratic decision-making, relationship-building leadership behaviors, and by activities that provide a space for student voice in decisions at the classroom, curriculum and school levels.
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Name: UCEA Annual Convention
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http://www.ucea.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p377266_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Brooks, Jeffrey. "Educational Leadership and African-American Student Alienation during the Transition to High School" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the UCEA Annual Convention, Anaheim Marriott, Anaheim, California, <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p377266_index.html>

APA Citation:

Brooks, J. S. "Educational Leadership and African-American Student Alienation during the Transition to High School" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the UCEA Annual Convention, Anaheim Marriott, Anaheim, California <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p377266_index.html

Publication Type: Symposium Paper
Abstract: This paper reports results of a multisite, mixed-method case study of 50 at-risk African-American eighth grade students in five public schools that examined how administrator and teacher educational leadership practice facilitated or impeded students’ sense of alienation from school. Building on the work of Seeman (1959, 1975, 1983), Middleton (1969), LeCompte and Dworkin (1991), deMarrais and Lecompte (1999), and Brooks (2006), the study used a sociological theoretical framework that conceived alienation as taking one or a combination of five forms: (a) powerlessness, (b) meaninglessness, (c) normlessness, (d) isolation, and (e) estrangement. Previous studies have connected a high sense of student alienation to dropping out or tuning out of school (LeCompte & Dworkin, 1991). Researchers have also explored the relationship between administrator and teacher behavior and student alienation at certain levels such as elementary schools (Zielinski & Hoy, 1983) and high schools (Brooks, Hughes & Brooks, 2008). However, no study has looked specifically at how leadership behavior during the transition into high school influences student decisions to dropout of school.
The five schools were from Alabama, a state with one of the highest high school dropout rates in the nation at 42% (Suitts & Veasey, 2009) and a purposeful sample of 50 at-risk eighth grade African-American students were chosen for the study. Criteria for at-risk status varied slightly from school to school but included indicators such as grade point average, reading level, excessive disciplinary referrals and a high number of absences. Qualitative data were collected from students, teachers and administrators via audio and videotaped interviews, through various formal and informal documents and by participant observations in naturalistic settings (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Quantitative data included student achievement on standardized tests, classroom assessment data, discipline referrals, and scores from the school connectedness survey (Brown & Evans, 2002).
Findings suggest that student alienation is exacerbated by authoritative leadership behavior, a lack of direct two-way communication between students and leaders, and by culturally irrelevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995, 1997) and lessened by student-centered leadership, democratic decision-making, relationship-building leadership behaviors, and by activities that provide a space for student voice in decisions at the classroom, curriculum and school levels.


Similar Titles:
“Let’s Stay Together: Racial Separation among African American High School Students Attending Predominately White Schools.”

Ideological Contestation In Urban Spaces: A Review of the Leadership Practices of African American High School Principals During Pre-Brown That Inform Contemporary Urban Leadership Preparation Programs


 
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