Factors that contribute to academic success: a qualitative study of Boston Public Exam School students
Hickey, Kathleen Ryan
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This qualitative research study examined the experiences of students who have been academically successful within a large, urban school district, specifically the Boston Public School District. The study sought both to uncover specific factors within individuals, homes, schools, and communities that promote academic success and to capture the experiences and voices of students who have been academically successful in their first seven years of formal schooling. A three-part series of in-depth interviews of thirteen Boston Public Exam School seventh grade students, who also attended the Boston Public Schools for elementary school, yielded the primary data for the research study. In addition, interviews with the parents of student participants as well as administrators at Boston Latin School offered supplementary perspectives. All data were transcribed and analyzed using a three-part sequence of developing participant profiles, conducting cross-case comparisons, and identifying thematic connections. The study yielded five findings related to academic success among urban students. Family involvement, persistence, reading, use of work strategies, and participation in additional learning opportunities emerged as factors that participants claimed have promoted academic success among the student participants. Although the individual findings from this research study may each promote some degree of academic success on their own, collectively the five factors seem to create a web of support that has contributed to the academic success of the students in this study. Many elements of these findings confirm existing research on academic achievement. A number of implications for practice as well as suggestions for future research arise from the findings of this study.
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