Perceptions of African American Males on the Texas Standardized Exit Exam

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2010-05

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Abstract

This qualitative study explored the impact mandatory standardized exams have on the academic progress of African American males in a West Texas school district. This study also explores a dual theatrical framework based on the Critical Race theory and the Resiliency theory. The state of Texas, along with several other states, have developed definitions, terms, or codes that place an at-risk-of-dropping-out-of-school-prior-to-graduation label on students who fail the current standardized exams. This study allowed eight twelfth grade African American male students who had failed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills an opportunity to address school reform efforts, standardized testing and school experiences that have impacted their educational careers. There has been much discussion in academic realms, via debates and research studies, as to why African American males are falling behind their counter parts. This study afforded these participants an opportunity to express their own points of view through two interviews. The findings for this study had implications for parents, educators, administrators, and policy makers. These implications were all data driven oriented. This study contributes to efforts to increase the knowledge base for stakeholders of how African American males view standardized exams and current reform efforts. The last thirty years have seen an increase in educational reform efforts with a new emphasis on standardized testing. Taylor & Harris (2007) conclude that in order to measure academic growth for African American males, both standardized and non-standardized exams must be developed (Taylor & Harris, 2007). Noguera (2001) affirms that though a number of social and economic hardships exist for African American males, according to most indicators there are particularly significant signs of trouble and distress in areas of academic attainment. Hoffman, Llagas & Snyder (2003) support this belief with their report on African American trends in education. They assert that although trends of progress have been made in education, various measurements indicate that differences on key indicators of education performance still exist between African American males and their Anglo counterparts. There have been recent discussions over the dissatisfaction with current accountability standards. The interviews with each participant in this study concur with dissatisfaction and the negative stereotype that are associated with failing the Texas Standardized exam. Students, administrators, campuses, and districts are faced with challenges that force them to reevaluate assessments and their results. There is also a need to review these assessments from a Critical Race Theory point of view and assess how participants continue to be resilient under adverse situations generated systemically and socially. The significance of this study to the field of educational leadership is the close examination of the participants’ perception on the Texas Standardized Exam. This study contributes thick description and a clearer understanding of actions and interactions affecting these African American participants. The researcher generated questions that allowed the participants to have a voice.

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Keywords

Students - African American Males, Standardized testing, Texas Standardized Exit Exam

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