School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Kenneth R. Tierce


AP, Honors, Black, Hispanic, Underrepresented, Gifted


Education | Secondary Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand high-achieving Hispanic and Black high school students’ experiences with honors and advanced placement (AP) courses in a Georgia private high school. The participants for this study were 11 high-achieving Hispanic and Black high school students as defined by a 3.0 or higher, grade point average (GPA) and enrollment in at least one advanced placement or honors course. Focus group interviews, individual participant interviews, and student journals were used as data collection methods. Data analysis followed van Kaam’s method—horizontalization, reduction and elimination, clustering and thematizing the invariant constituents, final identification of the invariant constituents and themes by application: validation, and textural and structural descriptions. The research questions addressed the lived experiences of high-achieving Hispanic and Black students in honors and AP courses. Overall, the participants described their experiences in their honors and AP courses as mostly positive, yet competitive. Further, they felt that their relationships with their teachers were supportive and strong. The participants described their relationships with their peers in class as competitive and overall positive, but they felt that their peers exhibited negative racial undertones at times. Future research should be conducted in diverse public schools by a researcher not connected to the participants.