James Lanich, Ph.D.
Improving Educational Success for Young Men of Color
Young men of color are one of the most disenfranchised demographic groups in the U.S., historically experiencing higher poverty, higher unemployment, lower wages and lower political engagement than their counterparts. They also face unique institutional barriers in our education system that affect their ability to get to and complete college and attain living-wage careers.
At ERP, we’re focused on learning what is working in education to get young men of color to and through college. With the support of College Futures Foundation, we conducted research to highlight effective pathways and identify schools, school systems, colleges and universities in California that are achieving more successful outcomes for Latino, African American, Pacific Islander and Native American males ages 16-24.
Through data analytics and research, we identified bright spot schools and systems among high schools, community colleges and four-year universities statewide. We then conducted site visits and in-person interviews with educators and administrators to learn what practices and programs are contributing to their students’ success. Our investigation revealed important findings, including these six structural elements associated with positive outcomes for young men of color students:
1) College Readiness – In partnership with their K-12 feeder districts, many community colleges use multiple measures of college readiness (such as high school success factors in addition to a placement test) to more accurately assess students’ capacities and place them into more appropriate course-levels where they are likely to succeed and accelerate their time to completion.
2) Mandatory Academic Planning – Successful colleges require that all students have an academic plan by the beginning of the second semester or sooner.
3) Dual Enrollment – Successful high schools are expanding dual enrollment programs to provide students with access to for-credit college-level classes while attending high school.
4) Community College Baccalaureate Programs – Successful community colleges are implementing programs that enable students to stay on a traditionally two-year campus to complete their four-year degree. These programs offer opportunities for low-income students to complete four-year degrees while minimizing the costs with transitioning to another campus.
5) Inclusive Policies – Successful schools purposefully implement policies that focus on additional student support. Saturday classes are provided, tutorials are available every day and teachers are prepared to identify individual needs and continuously adjust instruction.
6) Regular Collaboration – Collaboration is a clear priority at successful high schools and colleges. Data inform many discussions to assist with moving all teachers to a higher level of instructional effectiveness and increase student engagement. The high school teachers and principals along with their community college and university counterparts regularly and systematically review these data to make adjustments to instruction and support for students.
As evidenced by the results achieved by these bright spots, young men of color face unique challenges in education, but have the capacity, experience and resilience to succeed if given the opportunity through academic preparation and the removal of institutional barriers. Through data-sharing and collaboration among educators and business leaders, we can identify and replicate effective strategies for closing equity gaps, meeting cultural needs and empowering young men of color to successfully transition through the educational system to career.
Through data-sharing and collaboration among educators and business leaders, we can identify and replicate effective strategies for closing equity gaps, meeting cultural needs and empowering young men of color to successfully transition through the educational system to career.