Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Anti-Deficit Achievement, CRT, Counter-storytelling, Middle school youths, Redefining achievement

Major Advisor

Dr. Jennifer McGarry

Associate Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Wilson

Associate Advisor

Dr. Jason Irizarry

Associate Advisor

Dr. Erica Fernandez

Associate Advisor

Dr. Mark Kohan

Field of Study

Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Combining Anti-Deficit Achievement (Harper, 2010) and Critical Race Theory (Sólorzano & Yosso, 2001, 2002) frameworks, this research draws upon case study methodologies (Creswell, 2007; Merriam, 1998; Miles, Huberman & Saldana, 2013; Yin, 2008) to examine how youth conceptualize ideas of “achievement.” To do this, I engaged youth and school-based adults (e.g., teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, etc.) from an urban northeastern public school. The school is categorized as underperforming and resides in a historically underperforming district. Data for this study was gathered through semi-structured interviews, school-based observations, and document analysis. All analyses in this study were anchored in the youths’ perspectives and voices. A diverse population of youth participants ensured that experiences along the entire spectrum of state-defined achievement levels (i.e., above average, average, high-need) were given voice and representation. This inclusive group of participants helped identify how youths from all levels – not just high academic achievers or those labeled as gifted or talented - situate their own academic performances while also appreciating others’ perceptions of their performance. In understanding the perspectives and experiences of the youths, this study was designed to identify and highlight talents, resources, and supports that enable some students to achieve academically. It is critical to recognize that the youths in this study persevered through, and were provided the resources to be academically achieving within, the current oppressive structures of American schooling. However, this study also intended to contribute to research that disrupts dominant White-American and Eurocentric schooling norms and definitions of achievement (Ravitch, 1990).