Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Elinor Katz, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

George Straface

Third Advisor

Linda Brookhart

Fourth Advisor

Roger E. Salters


Achievement gap, Parents, Perceptions of race, Suburban schools


Public school districts across the nation are organizing to eradicate the racial predictability of academic achievement between African American and Hispanic children and their White and Asian peers, (Ferguson, 2001). This phenomenological study was designed to better illuminate the phenomenon of the racial achievement gap in an affluent educational setting. The story of race and academic achievement was told through perceptions held among minority and non-minority parents in an affluent educational setting.

Parents are a large piece of the bedrock which determines the academic success of all students. The role of the parent is particularly important in shaping the academic identity of students of color. However, parents' perceptions of the educational experience vary between races and thus the stories of parents must be told to gain insight into the nuances which manifest in the pervasive underperformance of students of color--even within an affluent suburban educational setting. Furthermore, the presuppositions, within the social construct of education, assume that parental involvement is limited to volunteer work in parent-teacher associations, and the like, as well as assume the lack of skills and knowledge on the part of minority and poor parents.

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to investigate the phenomenon of essence residing in each parent partner's unique portrayal of the educational experience at an affluent suburban middle school where a racial achievement gap persists against fervent efforts to eradicate racial predictability in academic performance.

In-depth interviews were conducted with eight parent partners of varied races and cultural backgrounds meeting the criteria of having an underperforming middle-schooler (as evidenced in grades and/or standardized test proficiency levels) in attendance at Red Oak Middle School in Colorado (an affluent suburban middle school which has made keen attempts to eliminate the racial achievement gap). Questions were formed as an invitation for each parent partner to explore their own "lived experience" as a parent of an underperforming student in an affluent middle school where a racial achievement gap persists.

Undeniably, the results of this study suggest that where the rubber hits the road is in the classroom. The role of the teacher is pivotal to the success of students of color. High expectations for learning coupled with the development of positive and meaningful relationships are fundamental factors to the academic success of Black and Hispanic students.

Second to the role of the teacher, having what the researcher calls "system savvy" is essential for parents of color. Holding a clear understanding of systems, structures, data, protocols, and educational language will ultimately support parents of color to navigate a seemingly daunting and somewhat cumbersome educational system.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Robyn Ashley Duran


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

183 p.


Educational administration