School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Erik Mullinix

Primary Subject Area

Education, General; Education, Sociology of; Black Studies; Education, Elementary; Education, Secondary; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies


High Achieving, Low SES, Poverty


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Educational Sociology | Race and Ethnicity


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore why some low-income minority students were academically successful in school using a three-tiered approach to research including individual student interviews, classroom observations, and photographs and follow up interviews on photographs to identify factors contributing to academic success. Twenty-five students in grades 3-8 meeting the criteria of African-American, low SES, and high achieving were selected and interviewed to identify factors contributing to their academic success as measured by Northwest Evaluation Association's Measures of Academic Progress testing. The study participant responses were compared and discussed through the lens of Critical Race Theory (CRT), however, the data did not support the tenets of CRT as there was little discussion of race or racism during the study. Through the three-tier process themes were developed supporting academic success. Themes included positive feelings about school, internal locus of control, and having a significant role model. The findings indicated that the majority of the students attributed these themes to their success in school. Recommendations for future research were made and implications for practice were discussed.