Black student success in a Roman Catholic secondary school

Donna Marie Andrade, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which black students experience success in a Catholic Secondary School. The study examined the effect of ethnic identity issues on black student behaviors and attitudes toward school, and the myriad ways in which a Catholic secondary school (The High School) encourages black student success. The study was conducted at a predominately white high school on the outskirts of an urban center. This setting was chosen as appropriate for examining black student cultural identity issues and their relationship to school performance because black students are in the minority at The High School. The sample consisted of eight primary participants who were randomly selected from a school list of all black sophomores and juniors from low SES families. As a consequence, the study's black participants had profiles similar to their public school counterparts. Fourteen additional school personnel, students, and parents also served as part of the sample. The data were collected using the qualitative research technique known as triangulation. This multiple method of data collection includes interviews, observations, and documentation. The data from the study were integrated with analysis of that same data using the theorical and empirical method of naturalistic inquiry. This design reflects the qualitative paradigm that argues for ongoing analysis in the field. The research resulted in several major findings: (a) the study's black participants have similar academic and socio-economic profiles to their black Catholic school counterparts; (b) upon entering The High School, the study's black participants bring with them high future aspirations and an identification with the school; (c) the study's black participants experience the same identity conflicts as their public school counterparts, but they mediate these conflicts differently; (d) the study's black participants possess two dominant cultural values which affect their identity conflicts; (e) the study's black participants possess three main identity conflicts; (f) The High School fosters a positive ethnic identity and minimizes identity and cultural conflicts among its black student population; (g) the study's black participants develop new values as a result of their experiences at The High School.

Subject Area

Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Andrade, Donna Marie, "Black student success in a Roman Catholic secondary school" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9530941.