Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Juan Battle

Subject Categories



Aspirations, Black Students, Dropping Out


Statistics show that the odds of transitioning from school before graduating are much higher for Black students than their white counterparts (NCES, 2011). In 2006, the national high school graduation rate for Black students was 51% with females at 58% and males at 44%. Such dismal figures speak to the need to study the various factors that influence the likelihood that Black students will drop out of school. This study considers several demographic, aspirational, and school culture variables and their value in predicting whether Black students will drop out.

The data used in this study are taken from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS) conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Multiple regression analyses were utilized to determine which independent variables have the greatest impact on predicting dropping out among a nationally representative sample of Black students.

The theoretical framework for this study will include discussions of structure versus agency, social and cultural capital theory (Bourdieu), as well as psycho-social aspects of individual and collective identity development (Bronfrenbrenner and Ogbu).

For Black students overall, aspiration level variables were the greatest predictors, with students' expectations for themselves being robust throughout. For Black males, urbanicity was also a significant factor in predicting drop out, along with school level variables for "not being put down" and knowing rules.

The findings from this study will increase an understanding of the factors that affect the academic achievement of Black students and other vulnerable populations. This dissertation will inform intervention strategies as well as future policy initiatives designed to improve those outcomes.

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