Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Gregory Hamilton, Ed.D.

Committee Members

Rodney Goodyear, Ph.D.

Jose Lalas, Ph.D.


education; African American males; critical race theory; cultural proficiency; early education/preschool; teachers' attitudes; transformative leadership


Early Childhood Education | Educational Leadership | Educational Sociology


African American boys enter kindergarten less academically prepared than African American girls and children of other ethnic groups, even after decades of attempts to ameliorate that disparity. This study explored preschool qualities and processes that might help to close the achievement gap. It employed qualitative and quantitative data analysis and the lens of critical race theory to focus on students' needs and perceptions and on the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, expectations, and preparation of preschool teachers. It also investigated preschool teachers' perceptions of the role of preschool and the relationship between their level of preparation and their expectations for African American boys in order to make suggestions concerning components of preschool that could be improved to help close the achievement gap. In the first of the study's three phases, a focus group was held with 11 third- and fourth-grade African American boys who had participated in preschool and who were currently attending a school in a high-poverty urban district. The focus group emphasis was on their recollected preschool experiences. The second phase of the study was administration of an 18-item attitudinal survey to the teachers. Those data were correlated with the teacher's levels of preparation to inform recommendations. The third phase of the study was a consultative interview with two preschool teachers to address 10 questions that focused on African American boys and the preschool experience. Review of the results supports the need for academic rigor and development of program objectives that include cultural competence. An important implication concerned the need for transformative leadership of preschools that might help African American boys to achieve their maximum potential.


ISBN: 9781321205954