Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Teaching and Learning (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Walter Secada

Second Committee Member

Okhee Lee-Salwen

Third Committee Member

Batya Elbaum

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Langer-Osuna

Fifth Committee Member

Nicholas Myers


Black students’ performance in mathematics on standardized examinations compared to White students is dismal; however, previous research has shown that there are highly effective high schools for Black students as defined by high levels of mathematics performance. Underachievement in upper-level high-school mathematics courses is a barrier for Black students’ access to many postsecondary education opportunities and contributes to an underrepresentation of Black students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics college majors and related careers. This dissertation examines the multilevel characteristics (student, teacher, department, and school factors) of high school mathematics programs as measured by Black students’ performance on standardized tests in 12th grade. The data for this study were taken from the Education Longitudinal Study (ELS) of 2002 from the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education. Results indicated that the 12th grade achievement in mathematics of Black students is positively related to prior mathematics achievement, family SES, and the interaction between the teaching practices of mathematics teachers and students’ collective sense of safety. A surprising interaction effect indicated that in schools where there is collective sense about lack of safety and where students report low-quality mathematics teaching practices, Blacks are more likely to exhibit high student-achievement in mathematics than schools where the collective sense about safety is mixed (or where it is high) or where there is student consensus of good quality teaching practices.


Black Students; High Schools; Mathematics Achievement; Multilevel Analysis