Report Examines How Young Black and Latino Males Succeed in New York City Schools

FC2S Staff | October 7th, 2013

Today we have a guest blog post by Maria Archuleta of the Open Society Foundations.

Study includes interviews with 400 high school students and 90 recent graduates

NEW YORK — The most comprehensive, qualitative report of academic success predictors among black and Latino high school students in the U.S. ­­was released today by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. The study, “Succeeding in the City: A Report from the New York City Black and Latino Male High School Achievement Study,” was led by Dr. Shaun Harper, director of the university’s Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education.

The Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement funded the report.

“I knew more could be learned about the success of young men of color in urban high schools,” said Harper. “I wanted to learn from young men who had been confronted with the same cultural and socioeconomic factors as their lower performing peers, yet managed to succeed in school. Specifically, I wanted to know how they developed college aspirations, became college-ready, and navigated their ways to higher education.”

The study includes over 400 face-to-face student interviews from the 40 New York City high schools participating in the Expanded Success Initiative (ESI), which is designed to increase college and career readiness among the city’s black and Latino males. ESI schools are a part of New York City’s Young Men’s Initiative (YMI)—the nation’s most comprehensive effort to tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of Black and Latino young men.

The research team attributed levels of success to several factors including:

  • Consistently high expectations from parents and families
  • Reputations that exempted them from gang recruitment
  • A desire to transcend poverty
  • Meaningful relationships with caring teachers and other adults in their schools who foster innovative college-going cultures and respectful educational environments

Participants included Black and Latino male juniors and seniors who maintained a 3.0 average, were engaged in multiple school activities, planned to enroll in college, and had taken a sequence of course work that would qualify them for pursuit of a college education.

The study also included 90 Black and Latino male undergraduate students who were enrolled at 44 colleges and universities. In the data collected from the college participants, Harper found:

  • Approximately 75 percent applied exclusively to public colleges in New York because these were the only schools to which they were introduced
  • Students felt intellectually prepared for college
  • An alarming number of students, however, felt they were not adequately prepared to navigate the college academic environment, including meeting professors’ expectations, multitasking and meeting deadlines, or effectively studying. Despite that, 45.6% of undergraduates in this study managed to earn cumulative college GPAs above 3.0
  • Few students established substantive relationships with professors (a key factor in high school success)

The report features recommendations for student success aimed at various stakeholders—parents and families, urban high school teachers, high school guidance counselors, principals and other high school leaders, and postsecondary professionals and leaders.

“This new report reflects the vision, values, and fortitude of students who were able to change the odds of their educational trajectories,” said Shawn Dove, manager of Open Society’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement. “What we learn from these young men should be promoted and reinforced in not only school districts across America, but in the collective consciousness of teachers, administrators, policymakers, researchers, parents, and others who care about the educational success of our nation’s black and Latino young men.”

The Open Society Foundations supports YMI in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the City of New York.

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities in more than 100 countries, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.

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