Date of Award

Spring 2-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Terry Stewart

Second Advisor

Dr. Graham Weir

Third Advisor

Dr. Brent Underwood


The achievement gap is one of the most daunting challenges educators face in U.S. schools today. Researchers have identified many factors that contribute to the persistence of this gap in public schools. Family backgrounds, cultural environment, and socioeconomic status appear to be the main environmental factors perpetuating the achievement gap. A review of literature also revealed poor quality teachers, ineffective school leadership, course tracking in high schools, and a lack of parental involvement were the main school factors identified. This quantitative study examined one public high school’s effort to reduce the achievement gap between African American students and Caucasian students. This high school created a voluntary program known as the Challenge Program. African American students in grades 9 through 12 actively worked with administrators, teachers and parents to reduce the existing gap. Multiple strategies within this program were implemented to support ongoing academic success among the Challenge students. Quantitative analysis of cumulative GPA, End of Course (EOC) exam scores in English II and American History, and ACT scores between Challenge students, Caucasian students, and non-Challenge African American students in the graduating class of 2012 were completed to determine if the program was effective in reducing the achievement gap. Data analysis confirmed Caucasian students attending this high school continued to have higher achievement. While multiple tests provided mixed results, ztests for differences in means and t-tests for differences in means assuming unequal variances revealed Challenge students had higher achievement levels compared to non- Challenge African American students when analyzing cumulative GPA and EOC exam iii scores in English II. These results indicate the Challenge Program has made some progress in reducing the achievement gap at this high school. This research involved an analysis of measurable achievement data for the students in the graduating class of 2012 at this high school. Continued analysis of performance data and a qualitative study of student and staff perceptions of the Challenge Program would be important to fully evaluate the program’s success.


Copyright 2012