Critical incidents relating to high school dropout of identified young adult Black males



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This research, a qualitative phenomenological study, identified, and analyzed critical incidents of perceptions of young adult Black male drop-outs believed to be directly related to their departure from high schools without graduating. The focus of the study was to find possible connections between school programs, policies, and practices of the senior high school level and the drop-out problem. Devised methods analyzed reported critical incidents from several perspectives within the school setting. Some cases were referenced by using cross-matrix analyses to compare and contrast patterns of happenings. What do young Black male students having “failed”, whether personally and/or by their high schools, perceive in later years, as adults, to have been critical incidents discouraging and/or alienating them from completing a program that leads to graduation? Critical incidents will focus on four questions:

  1. What are there things that happened to them at school that made them want to dropout?
  2. What are the varieties of critical incidents reported as those that bear some relevance to dropping out?
  3. What is the in-school context reported in their critical incidents?
  4. What are the given titles of dominant persons, programs or policies related to the recalled incidents? Interview respondents were tape recorded as they gave detailed descriptions of their inschool perceptions of critical incidents. The identity of respondents, school personnel and the district remained completely anonymous. Tape recorded reports were analyzed to extract critical incidents and specifics related to the research questions. Critical incidents were coded and categorized to produce themes of types of incidents. Hearing first-hand from dropouts, of a “failed” system is the first step in a process of efforts to make it widely known and to prevent such “critical incidents” from continuing to occur when high school students forfeit a diploma and full K-12 education. This study provides alterable factors with implications for school policy, teaching and leadership practices that relate to the whole child theory of learning at every stage and level. This research supports the “whole child” concept of cultural sensitivity, diverse learning and multiculturalism. It contributes to established basics for further research and theory on institutionalized malpractices.