Promising Practices and Unfinished Business: Fostering Equity and Excellence for Black and Latino Males

by Alethea Frazier Raynor; Andresse St. Rose; Daren Graves; Helena Miranda; Jamie L. Del Razo; John B. Diamond; Melissa Colon; Paul J. Kuttner; Rosann Tung; Vivian Dalila Carlo

Apr 1, 2015

Boston Public Schools (BPS) commissioned companion studies as part of its efforts to address achievement gaps for Black and Latino males. The first study revealed the increasing diversity of Black and Latino males and stark opportunity gaps throughout the system that contribute in large part to wide attainment gaps for these students. We hypothesized that in schools doing comparatively better with Black or Latino males than their counterparts, educators would be strategically and comprehensively implementing evidence-based cultural, structural, and instructional practices tailored to meet their the needs and aspirations of these students. Through qualitative case studies of four schools, we identified several cross-cutting themes that provide the district and school leaders with some positive news about effective practices found in all good schools: strong school cultures, professional collaboration, differentiated instruction, and, in the elementary schools, family engagement. While we observed pockets of best practices specific to Black and Latino male education, we also brought to light unfinished business, in that none of the four case study schools had an intentional and comprehensive schoolwide approach to educating Black and Latino males. This lack of intentionality resulted in a paucity of evidence that the school administration and faculty as a whole: (a) know and value students' cultural and linguistic backgrounds; (b) adopt explicit and responsive approaches to race and gender; and (c) develop and implement a comprehensive approach to culturally responsive curriculum and instruction. We posit that lack of knowledge, intentionality, and coherence impedes further progress in educating Black and Latino males, and has implications for educators in schools, for staff members in community partner organizations, and for family members of BPS students.

  • There are four sources of the opportunity gap for Black and Latino male students in Boston Public Schools: low advanced work class participation, low exam school enrollment, low completion of MassCore curriculum, and low high school graduation rates.
  • Cross-cutting strengths from the case study schools include a caring school culture, a professional collaborative community, individualized instruction, family engagement and leadership.
  • There are pockets of practices specific to Black and Latino males in all schools and there is a lack of intentionality and coherence in approach to educating Black and Latino males.
  • Some challenges found include teachers and staff having limited knowledge of students' cultural and linguistic backgrounds; adults preferring a "color-blind" approach and being reluctant discuss to gender and race; and the absence of a systemic, school wide approach to cultural responsiveness.
  • Very few Boston public schools were identified as having high proficiency rates with Black and Latino males.
  • Schools that are doing “comparatively well” with Black and Latino male students all have the hallmarks of good or effective schools.
  • Schools were not intentional about implementing practices specific to supporting the success of Black and Latino males.