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Abstract

Over thirty years ago, William Julius Wilson declared that class trumped race as the more significant determinant of social mobility and economic opportunity. Despite the acclaim and scrutiny for Wilson's work, the United States has grown increasingly divided by intersecting factors of race, class and other demographic factors such as place (Massey, 2007). These divisions are especially evident in the public education system. We analyze how race, class and place interact to predict high school graduation rates in a national sample of schools and students. Results confirm that a singular focus on race, class, or locale is insufficient to explain high school graduation rates. However, a more contextualized focus on the interactions between multiple determinants of inequality (e.g. race, class and place) can yield a more nuanced understanding of the indicators driving educational inequalities. Scholars and practitioners need to focus on the manner in which multiple positionalities influence the academic achievement of African American children and young adults.

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