Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education


Interdisciplinary Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Marlon Cummings, Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Mark Collins

Third Advisor

Dr. Crystal Harris


The racial academic achievement gap in America’s public schools persists although there is solid research explaining the elements that have led to and support it. Much of this research is deficit-based and highlights the vulnerabilities of those who fall at the bottom of that gap. Not enough research is invested in celebrating, highlighting, or exploring the experiences of the Black students who experience a reality of performing near or at the top of the gap. The research presented here was designed to provide a strengths-based view of a marginalized portion of America’s public-school students. The goal of this study is to uncover the common factors that contribute to academic success for Black students who attend public schools in suburbs surrounding the south Chicagoland area. The findings indicate that self-efficacy, school counselors, and resilience, among other factors, are characteristics held in common by the participants of this study. The practices and conditions highlighted help these students overcome the challenges of over a century of institutionalized racism and decades of factors that contribute to the racial academic gap between Black and White children who attend American public schools.