This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Finding High Achievement in the Alabama Black-Belt




Wooten, Christopher

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The history of the United States is steeped with evidence of educational inequities based on race. From the time of slavery, a time in which slaves were forbade to learn to read, to the most recent education legislations, which are apparently geared to close the achievement gap between white and African American students, the social and educational structure throughout the nation has failed to proportionately educate all students despite their race. The dereliction of whites to acknowledge the disparities of educating African American students is acknowledged as a falsehood while curricula, educational assessments, educational funding, and ongoing legislation continues to disproportionately cater to predominately white and affluent schools. This leaves African American students, especially those in poor, rural, and urban locations, at an educational disadvantage. These schools typically possess a high number of minority and impoverished students as well as low academic achievement. Yet, there were schools in such areas that managed to acquire high levels of academic success, and most of the identified schools were elementary and middle schools. With relatively few high schools identified, this case study examined Lynnewood High School located in the poor, rural Alabama Black Belt. By interviewing four members of the School Leadership Team (SLT) and six interviewees of the Recent Graduate Group (RGG), I qualitatively determined that Lynnewood High School met the criteria to be a High-Poverty, High-Minority, High-Achieving (HPMA) school, worthy to be mentioned for academic achievement awards, and to be a beacon and guide for academic achievement for other high-minority, rural schools. Academic success was determined by assessing the interview responses and various academic awards and their criteria. The school managed to accomplish academic success despite many obstacles including state legislation.