The purpose of this study was to answer the question, "What are the experiences of students who have completed the Achievement Academy program?" In collecting data to answer this question, a series of clarifying questions also emerged: "What are the cultural, academic, and personal costs and benefits associated with being a part of Achievement Academy?"; "How have students defined or redefined their cultural, social, academic, and personal identities because of Achievement Academy?"; and "In what ways have the students used their surroundings and experiences to overcome preconceived notions of either what they were capable of or general expectations of those around them?" While there have been studies undertaken to examine students' experiences in both public school and private school academic programs, there is currently no research on the unique academic program and partnership of Achievement Academy with both public and private schools. This study provides direct insight from a participant focus group and individual participant interviews of students that attended Achievement Academy. A phenomenology research methodology was used to collect the data and Critical Race Theory (CRT) was used as the lens through which the data from the focus group and interviews were analyzed. This analysis resulted in three distinct findings in the research data: peers, program environment, and the presence of a mentor or positive role model are the major influencing factors for their success both in Achievement Academy and afterwards. First, the Achievement Academy students' peers in the program had a strong positive influence on how they viewed and defined themselves. These interactions allowed some students an opportunity to re-evaluate and recreate their identities and allowed validation of identity for others. Second, the Achievement Academy program, and more specifically its stated mission and practices, also provided a strong positive influence on their success. Third, the presence of a mentor or role model was instrumental to their success. The program's emphasis on empowerment and enrichment also created opportunities for students to stretch themselves academically, socially, and culturally.
- The experience of Achievement Academy students: what their experience can tell us about success
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Statement of Responsibility
by James Calleroz White