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More Guides for Educators 

By Tony Laing and Adriana Villavicencio (2016)

Since 2012, the NYC Department of Education’s Expanded Success Initiative (ESI) has provided funding and professional development to 40 City high schools with the goal of helping them develop new strategies (or expand existing efforts) aimed at increasing college and career readiness for Black and Latino male students. 

As part of our larger evaluation of ESI, the Research Alliance is conducting in-depth case studies in five ESI schools, observing programs in action, and speaking with educators, school leaders, and students about the specific practices they have changed as part of ESI.

Drawing on these sources, we have compiled a set of guides that provide concrete examples of how ESI schools are attempting to boost college readiness for young men of color. Each guide describes a specific approach and offers tips, discussion questions, and resources for educators who may want to pursue this strategy.

The practice guides focus on topics that principals, teachers, and guidance counselors across ESI schools identified as important for creating an environment that supports and welcomes young men of color. Details on each guide can be found below.

Improving Academic Readiness for College

While high school graduation rates have continued to rise for males of color in New York City over the last decade, only a small proportion of these students leave high school with the academic skills they need to succeed in college. The schools highlighted in this guide have attempted to bolster academic supports available to their students and increase the academic rigor of their classes, using such strategies as:

  • Offering a summer bridge to high school;
  • Rethinking math and science teaching; and
  • Differentiating academic offerings.

Creating Supportive Bonds of Brotherhood

Research suggests that strong relationships between teachers and students—and between students and their peers—contribute to academic success. The schools highlighted in this guide offer male-only programs designed to build such relationships and promote a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie through:

  • Rituals and ceremonies; 
  • Conversations about personal experiences and challenges; and
  • Peer mentorship. 

Culturally Relevant Education

CRE is a way of teaching that strives to empower students by incorporating their cultures, backgrounds, and experiences into the school environment and classroom activities. CRE also attempts to help schools address underlying biases educators may have about their students—particularly Black and Latino males. The guide highlights practices ESI schools use to bring CRE to life, including:

  • Taking advantage of CRE professional development opportunities;
  • Incorporating students’ experiences and interests into curricula;
  • Addressing teachers’ mindsets and beliefs;
  • Supporting English language learners and bilingual students; and
  • Embracing diversity within and across cultures.

Early Exposure to and Preparation for College

Black and Latino young men may face a number of potential barriers on their pathway to college, including a belief that college is not for them, difficulty navigating the college search and application process, financial obstacles, and insufficient academic preparation. ESI schools are working to prepare students for college starting in 9th grade, in hopes of helping them identify postsecondary goals and take concrete steps toward achieving these goals. Specific strategies detailed in the guide include:

  • Helping students envision themselves in college;
  • Working with students on the college search and application processes;
  • Providing access to college coursework and career training; and
  • Increasing opportunities and supports in math.