Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Frances Wills

Second Supervisor

Shelley Jallow


In the United States, more students are being retained in the ninth grade than in any other year in their K-12 school experience (Blackwell, 2008). In addition, African American males are retained more than any other group (Morrison, 2014). Studies show that when students, especially African American males, are retained in ninth grade there is an increased probability that they will drop out and consequently, fail to graduate from high school. The limitation of the majority of the prior studies on ninth-grade retention is their focus on urban districts. Thus, it is unknown if the probability of ninth-grade retention and the impact of that setback is significant in suburban, integrated settings where African Americans make up smaller, yet emerging percentage of the student population. While the gravity of these issues is documented, there have been few studies on the barriers to the academic success of African American students in suburban, integrated environments. The purpose of this study is to examine the ninth grade experiences of African American males in a high school in a suburban community of New York City. The study participants consisted of three African American males who were retained in ninth grade, and three African American males who successfully completed ninth grade and are currently enrolled as 10th and 12th grade students. The study provides insight to what these students report about the factors that contributed to their academic achievement and barriers to their success. A qualitative research design was employed, utilizing in-depth interviews and the students’ school records as the main sources of data collection.

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