Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Jose W. Lalas, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Alayne Sullivan, Ph.D.

Carol Franklin, Ed.D.

Christopher H. Hunt, Ed.D.


social sciences, education, academic achievement, parental involvement, social class, student engagement


African American Studies | Educational Leadership | Educational Sociology


This study examined the social class of African American students in an upper middle class high school and their engagement in school influenced by a parent advisory group consisting of upper and middle class African American men. Student engagement has become a hot topic for school policy makers, administration, teachers, and parents at all educational levels. The question of how best to engage students for academic success is the priority. Although research suggests middle and upper class students do well in school as compared to lower class and working class students, the upper and middle class African American students in this particular school were failing until a group of parents intervened. The school experienced increased student engagement resulting in higher GPA, increased graduation rates, increased numbers of college enrollments and graduation rates, and a reduction in the achievement gap. Using the narrative inquiry method, a qualitative approach, the researcher listened to the participants' authentic voices and conveyed their story. Using a semi-structured conversational interview protocol, the participants shared their "lived" stories about the impact that a parent advisory group had on student engagement at the high school of interest. Findings suggest that when adults exhibit care, build meaningful relationships, and communicate that students are valued, student engagement increases and students are successful in school. The participants explained how the identity, behavior, and status of a group of parents gave options to a group of students in order to increase their academic success and hope for the future.


© 2014 Kitty M. Fortner

All Rights Reserved

ISBN: 9781321204544