Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Second Advisor

Walter Gmelch

Third Advisor

Richard Johnson III


The voices of single African American mothers are critical to research on kindergarten readiness. This study examined maternal influence on the kindergarten readiness of African American male children of single African American mothers. Research on the topic of maternal academic support for sons indicated a deficit view of mother’s expectations for her son’s performance and cognitive ability in the year prior to entering kindergarten. Studies on the educational outcomes of African American male students suggested this subgroup significantly underperformed on standardized tests in mathematics and reading compared to their peers. The education community references the achievement gap as this difference in performance, which is prevalent as early as kindergarten for African American male students. Antithetical academic deficiency theory describes maternal behaviors to circumvent and combat the nonacademic stereotypes of their African American sons. The theory informs nontraditional parental-involvement practices and positive messages regarding the academic expectations and support mothers have committed to their sons. Findings from the study of single African American mothers’ perceptions of the cognitive ability of their sons suggested that mothers’ positive influence in the areas of continuous support, academic preparation, and parental involvement impacted their sons’ academic growth. This study demonstrated the aptitude of single African American mothers in countering the degenerative attitudes that dissuade the academic development of African American male students beginning in kindergarten.