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Advancing the success of boys and men of color: Recommendations for policy makers. Contributions from The Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, Minority Male Community College Collaborative, Morehouse Research Institute, Project MALES and the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color, Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male, Black Male Institute, Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory. San Diego, CA: Printing Office.



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Advancing the Success of
Boys and Men
of Color in Education
For Federal Policymakers
A report from seven centers that rigorously investigate the
educational experiences of boys and men of color
The opinions expressed herein belong entirely to the
centers and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of
the institutions in which they reside
The Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education
University of Pennsylvania
Minority Male Community College Collaborative
San Diego State University
Morehouse Research Institute
Morehouse College
Project MALES and the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color
University of Texas at Austin
Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male
The Ohio State University
Black Male Institute
University of California, Los Angeles
Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Seven Centers that Routinely and Rigorously Investigate the Experiences and Outcomes of Boys and Men of Color in Education
A Collective Policy Statement
Collective Policy Statement
On February 27, 2014, President Barack Obama announced a new national
initiative called My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), which proposed to “address
persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color” (White
House, 2014, para 1). Through substantial financial support and
partnerships with private organizations and foundations committed to the
initiative, MBK aims to promote promising practices and programs that
demonstrate effectiveness and offer males of color, regardless of their
income, geography, or family circumstances, the greatest opportunities to
succeed in school and beyond. Evidence has mounted demonstrating how
critical education is for success in today’s American economy, yet too many
males of color are not experiencing optimal outcomes at the elementary,
secondary, and postsecondary levels. It is also widely understood that
meager educational outcomes often lead to poorer life chances. With these
facts in mind, MBK proposed to concentrate on improving school readiness
for early childhood education, grade-level reading proficiency, and rates of
high school graduation, college-going, and completion of post-secondary
education and training. By concentrating on the aforementioned areas,
MBK stands to measurably improve the life chances for males of color.
Institutions across the U.S. and throughout the educational pipeline (e.g.,
elementary, secondary, and postsecondary) have been confronted with
innumerable challenges achieving parity in educating males of color
compared to their White and Asian male counterparts. For example, only
18% of Black boys are proficient in fourth grade mathematics compared to
55% and 64% for their White and Asian peers, and 27% and 28% for Native
American and Latino boys. Similar trends are also evident in eighth grade
mathematics, where only 13% and 21% of Black and Latino young men are
at proficient or above, respectively. Moreover, these educational disparities
are evident in other key subject areas, including reading (NAEP, 2013).
Challenges experienced in the early education stages intensify over time as
evidenced by national high school graduation rates for men of color.
According to the Schott Foundation (2012), Black and Latino males graduate
from high school at significantly lower rates than their White peers. The
four-year graduation rate for Black and Latino males is 52% and 58%,
respectively, while the rate is 78% for White males. More revealing are the
differences, across states. For example, in the District of Columbia, only
38% of Black males and 46% of Latino males graduate from high school. In
New York, only 37% of Black and Latino males graduate. Other states
including South Carolina, Mississippi, Michigan, Georgia, Florida, Delaware,
Alabama, Colorado, and Connecticutalso have graduation rates below
60% for Black and Latino males.
Table 1.
4th Grade
8th Grade
4th Grade
8th Grade
Native American
Boys and Men of Color in Education
For men of color, these negative trends persist at the postsecondary
educational level. At four-year colleges, only 33.2% of Black males and
44.8% of Latino males earn a bachelor’s degree within six yearsrates
strikingly lower than those of their White (57.1%) and Asian (64.2%) peers
(Digest of Education Statistics, 2012). At two-year colleges, only 32.1% of
Black males and 30.2% of Latino males earn a certificate, degree, or transfer
to a four-year institution within six years, compared to 39.8% for White
males and 43.4% for Asian males (BPS, 2009).
Although often characterized as an at-risk population, boys and men of
color possess the intellectual capacity to excel in PreK-12 schools and
postsecondary contexts when educational policies and practices support
their success. Collectively, the contributors to this brief believe that every
system is perfectly designed to achieve the results it gets" (quote attributed
to W. Edward Deming and to Paul Batalden). Thus, the existing educational
policies and practices that routinely fail to produce positive results for boys
and men of color demand scrutiny. MBK represents a major undertaking in
that it seeks to both diagnose the pitfalls that plague educational
achievement among males of color and comprehensively catalogue proven
solutions to the problem. This brief aims to contribute to this effort by
proposing specific educational policies and practices that should be
implemented at the federal level to improve outcomes for boys and men of
color at every junction of their education.
The recommendations offered below were derived from internationally-
and nationally-recognized researchers who are leaders of major research
centers throughout the United States. These include The Center for the
Study of Race and Equity in Education (University of Pennsylvania), Minority
Male Community College Collaborative (San Diego State University),
Morehouse Research Institute (Morehouse College), Project MALES and the
Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color (University of Texas
at Austin), Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African
American Male (The Ohio State University), Black Male Institute (University
of California, Los Angeles), and Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory
(University of Wisconsin-Madison). These researchers have rigorously
studied factors that influence educational, social, and occupational
opportunities for boys and young men of color. To this end, this brief
reflects these individuals' collective ideas, perspectives, and
Boys and Men of Color in Education
The following recommendations are divided into three sections. The first
section focuses on educational pipeline recommendations, including policy
interventions spanning preschool to doctoral education. The second section
focuses specifically on PreK-12 policy recommendations, and the last
section focuses on postsecondary education policy recommendations, with
major emphases on two-year and four-year colleges and universities.
Pipeline Recommendations
Create a National Clearinghouse on Exemplary Studies, Practices, and
Policies on Males of Color in Education
Over the past several decades, practitioners have increasingly recognized
the need for greater support of boys and men of color in education through
established programs, conferences, symposia, and initiatives designed to
improve outcomes throughout the pipeline. Likewise, these intensified
efforts have been mirrored in the scholarly community resulting in the
establishment of centers, peer-reviewed journals, and academic
conferences focused on issues relevant to males of color in education.
These combined efforts have produced effective policies at various levels of
governance (i.e., school, district, state, national) as well as innovative
practices (e.g., teaching strategies, counseling techniques, evaluation
standards) and tools for research, assessment, and evaluation that can
inform educational interventions for boys and men of color. Currently,
however, access to and awareness of these newly developed resources is
limited; no centralized location exists where such information is maintained,
organized, and disseminated. A national clearinghouse or repository
featuring exemplary studies, practices, and policies focused on males of
color in education would go a long way toward meeting this need. The U.S.
Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences already houses
the What Works Clearinghouse, which features information on effective
interventions for the general student population. A similar clearinghouse on
educational interventions focused on boys and men of color in education
should also be established either as a standalone entity or as a combined
endeavor of the existing clearinghouse. Promising practices, studies, and
policies featured in the repository should be subject to a rigorous review
process by a board with extensive research experience and expertise on
males of color.
Implement a National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Dataset that
Tracks Males of Color across PreK-12 and Postsecondary Education
Social and behavioral science research continues to affirm that even as
many boys and men of color successfully navigate PreK-12 and
postsecondary educational systems, some continue to face distinct barriers
throughout the educational pipeline. These challenges may include, but are
not limited to, poverty, access, single-parent households, and negative
stereotypes. A national database, implemented through NCES, could track
individuals in the pipeline and identify indicators of their past, current, and
future educational status. A NCES data tracking system would provide
insight into enrollment, retention, and graduation trends throughout the
educational pipeline, helping to optimize institutional success in society’s
high-skilled labor economy. The dataset should yield information on
undergraduate participation, engagement at the graduate level, and
detailed employment plans of boys and men of color. Because NCES
currently records demographic information and associated behaviors that
impact achievement, persistence, and outcomes in education, a tracking
system devoted to this particular population would inform and embolden
innovative high-touch educational policy and practice that intentionally and
holistically serves this population. This evidence-based practice, rooted in
accurate record-keeping, would not only help identify emerging trends in
educational progress but also enable researchers to identify challenges and
opportunities related to educational achievement. These efforts would
facilitate research with significant implications for today’s PreK-16
educational systems and the broader 21st century workforce.
Pipeline Recommendations
Refine Ethnic Classifications Collected by the U.S. Department of
Education to Better Account for Within-Group Differences
The racial classifications currently collected by the U.S. Department of
Education are in desperate need of refinement. For example, data from the
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report racial
demographic data in six categories: White, Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific
Islander, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and two or more races.
Particularly troubling are categories for Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander
students. Unfortunately, these data hide critical disparities across
subpopulations that may otherwise heighten the need for subgroup-specific
interventions. For example, Asian/Pacific Islander data currently conceal
deleterious outcomes for Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian men (e.g.,
Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian, Vietnamese) who have academic experiences
and outcomes on par with those of other underserved men of color. As a
result, it is recommended that a more expansive classification formula be
used, which includes a greater number of categories such as Asian
American, Southeast Asian, South Asian (e.g., Indian, Pakistani, Sri-Lankan),
Pacific Islander, and Filipino. Similar problems are evident with respect to
the Hispanic classification, which may mask the needs of the large
percentage of students of Mexican/Mexican-American descent, particularly
in the Southwestern U.S. At a minimum, the Hispanic category should be
divided into two groups: Mexican/Mexican-American and Latino (excluding
Mexican heritage).
Mandate that Institutions Create Equity Plans to Improve Success of Boys
of Color
Using quantitative and qualitative data derived from periodic self-studies
and external evaluations, school districts, colleges, and universities should
be required to create equity plans for promoting student success. Equity
plans should identify areas for intervention derived from regular analyses of
experience and outcome disparities. Plans should identify goals for student
access, retention, and completion for student populations in general and by
race/ethnicity within gender. Equity plan goals should be accompanied by
clearly specified outcomes and resultant courses of action focused on
building institutional capacity to better serve student populations,
particularly boys and men of color. The plans should also address both
resourcing strategies and methods for evaluating the success of planned
interventions, with benchmarks and mechanisms for performance
monitoring. All plans should be submitted to the Department of Education
for review every two years with an accountability infrastructure in place to
ensure that identified courses of action and evaluation of these actions are
performed. Moreover, equity plans should be publically shared documents
that are available and accessible to prospective students and their families.
Pipeline Recommendations
Facilitate Curricular Partnerships Across the Pipeline
Currently, a lack of alignment and collaboration across successive levels of
the pipeline may hinder efforts to effectively serve challenging student
populations. Courses taken in high school may not necessarily prepare
students for college-level coursework. Similarly, in many locales, community
college coursework will enable a student to transfer; however, due to a
misalignment in course learning outcomes, transfer students may be forced
to obtain a substantially greater number of total academic credits than
would be expected had they attended a four-year institution alone. To
address these concerns, the federal government should require school
districts, community colleges, and public four-year institutions to partner in
designing curricula that create seamless pathways for students to
matriculate across each sector. These partnerships should focus specifically
on ensuring that students meet academic expectations at each successive
level of schooling, adequately covering foundational content at each stage
and prioritizing English and mathematics skills in particular. By providing
enhanced opportunities for information- and resource-sharing, pipeline
partnerships represent a key strategy for improving outcomes for
historically underrepresented boys and men of color. Via partnerships,
educators can identify common exit points in the educational pipeline
where attrition among boys and men of color frequently occurs. Institutions
can then work collaboratively to reduce attrition at those junctures. The
federal government can facilitate such partnerships by incentivizing
collaborations across institutional-types. Given the unique needs of pipeline
collaborations across region, federal grants monies can be directed to state
governments to support the implementation of partnership structures.
Pipeline Recommendations
PreK-12 Recommendations
Implement Interventions to Ensure Third and Fourth Grade Level
Proficiency in Literacy for Males of Color
Literacy matters. The third and fourth grade marker is a foundational point
in students’ academic careers that has direct implications for future
achievement. Outcome data presented in Table 1 of this report revealed
that only 14% of Black and 18% of Latino males are proficient in reading by
fourth grade, while rates for their White peers are 2.5 to three times higher
(NAEP, 2013). Unfortunately, the longer males of color remain in school, the
wider the literacy gap grows. Moreover, students who are not reading at
grade level by the time they enter fourth grade are less likely to ever reach
grade level proficiency in reading, are more likely to be referred to special
education, and are more likely to drop out of school. Given the importance
of early grade level reading proficiency, schools should provide specific
interventions aimed toward students who are not demonstrating reading
proficiency by third grade. These interventions should include supplemental
learning opportunities with an intense literacy focus in the form of after-
school programs, summer school, literacy sessions, or Saturday academies.
School districts and state departments of education should provide
incentives for literacy teachers and instructional coaches to participate in
such programs, which have advanced in recent years to include rigorous,
culturally relevant frameworks that offer promise for diverse student
populations, including males of color. Literacy has a direct impact on school
outcomes and life chances. School districts should invest considerable
financial and human resources to the development of appropriate
structures and systems to prevent disproportionate numbers of boys of
color from leaving third grade and entering fourth grade without the
requisite skills needed to be successful in school and beyond.
Adopt Data Tracking Systems and Scorecards to Identify Schools with
Disproportionately High Suspension and Special Education Placement
Black and Latino males are the two groups of students most likely to be
suspended and expelled in PreK-12 schools. They also tend to be grossly
overrepresented in special education and underrepresented in Gifted and
Talented and other accelerated learning programs. As a preventative
measure, school districts should be required to adopt data systems that
track the classrooms, teachers, and schools where levels of suspension are
significantly higher. School districts and state departments of education
should also be required to investigate whether their current policies
contribute to student push out becoming commonplace. For example, the
Los Angeles Unified School District recently dismantled their “willful
defiance” policy, which led large numbers of Black and Latino males to be
suspended for extended periods of time. To this end, it is imperative for all
school districts to evaluate their current policies and practices to identify
those that may be inappropriately used as a conduit for the removal of
groups of students from learning communities in schools. It is also
recommended that school districts consider the development and
implementation of equity scorecards (see Harris, Bensimon & Bishop, 2010
for example), which would spotlight schools for their success in identifying
strategies and pedagogical practices to keep boys of color in the classroom.
These scorecards could also include suspension and special education
placement data for students, disaggregated by race within gender and
socioeconomic categories.
PreK-12 Recommendations
Focus on Increasing Men of Color Teachers and Principals
There is growing concern that the current pool of school teachers and
administrators do not mirror the growing racial/ethnic diversity of students.
While there are promising programs (e.g., Call Me Mister program at
Clemson University) focused on encouraging male college students of color
to pursue teaching careers, colleges of education across the nation should
do more to create pathways to the teaching profession to attract larger
numbers of these male students. Young men of color in high school require
a critical mass of men of color teachers as positive male role models and
mentors to better understand their own identities and to develop plans for
college enrollment. Through unique partnerships between local high
schools, colleges of education, and other institutions of higher education,
potential men of color teachers can learn about the dire need to diversify
the teaching profession, consider the benefits of becoming a teacher, and
set long-term career goals to advance into educational administration. The
federal government, via the Department of Education and the National
Science Foundation, should implement demonstration grants that focus on
bolstering the pipeline of men of color entering the teaching profession.
Tighten Accreditation and State Certification Standards for Teacher
Education and Counselor Education Programs
Many educational problems that disproportionately affect young men of
color (e.g., higher rates of suspension and expulsion) are attributable to a
lack of substantive engagement of these issues in the curricula of programs
that prepare teachers for PreK-12 schools. The overwhelming majority of
pre-service teachers in the U.S. are White, and most are White women.
Teacher preparation programs do not devote enough of their curricula to
enhancing the cultural competence of aspiring education professionals.
Likewise, most academic training programs that prepare future guidance
counselors provide too few courses on race and diversity, and they do not
adequately prepare guidance counselors for the complexities of counseling
in inadequately resourced high schools that enroll students largely from
low-income families. Additionally, many counselor education programs
include just one course on counseling high school students and their
families on the vast landscape of postsecondary options. Given these
deficits, these programs and the educators they prepare for careers in PreK-
12 schools warrant more rigorous accreditation and state certification
standards. Accreditors and state licensing entities should demand greater
evidence from schools of education and alternative teacher preparation
programs of curricular efforts that vigorously engage aspiring professionals
in meaningfully complex exercises that awaken and disrupt their
assumptions about students and communities of color. Current state
policies and certification standards do too little to ensure that highly
qualified teachers and counseling professionals are prepared to effectively
educate young men of color as well as other diverse student populations
and families.
PreK-12 Recommendations
Implement Sustained Professional Development Structures for Effectively
Working with Boys of Color
Students of color are disproportionately concentrated in schools with
underqualified and less experienced teachers. In contrast, certified teachers
with greater levels of experience are more likely to teach in predominantly
White and affluent schools. The limited numbers of qualified teachers who
do teach in majority-minority schools are retained at lower rates, and often
transition to schools with greater resources that can provide enhanced job
security. Given these dynamics, the least capable teachers too often teach
students that demand the most qualified teachers. In addition to these
challenges, PreK-12 educators tend to be disproportionately White and
female who often struggle to connect with young boys of color personally
and pedagogically. These teachers may inadvertently perpetuate social
messages that school is not a domain suited for boys of color. A
professional development infrastructure is needed to train teachers to work
more effectively with boys of color. Districts and departments of education
should be mandated to develop sustained professional development
structures that assist practitioners in developing the knowledge, skills, and
dispositions to effectively work with boys of color. Professional
development activities should focus on the practical implementation of
promising practices that enable teachers to better understand, work with,
and support boys of color.
Develop High School Policies and Practices that Improve Male of Color
Participation in Advanced Academic Programs
Extant research highlights the benefits that accrue to high school students
who enroll in college preparatory coursework. However, national data
reveal that few high school males of color enroll and complete dual-
enrollment college courses, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, honors
courses, International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, and other types of college
preparatory courses. Ample evidence has shown that students who engage
in college preparatory coursework are more likely to enroll in college,
navigate the transition to college more smoothly, and are better prepared
for academic expectations in college. While many high schools offer
advanced coursework, we believe that high schools need to do more to
encourage historically underrepresented students (particularly male
students of color) to enroll in these courses. One strategy supporting this
recommendation would be to mandate reporting of completion rates and
access ratios to advanced coursework, disaggregated by race/ethnicity
within gender. Advanced coursework in a 21st century school should be
open and available to all students. Schools with enrollment in advanced
coursework enrollment that fall below a specified threshold proportionate
to their overall demographics should be identified for program
improvement. For some male students of color, their participation in these
types of academic courses may serve as a catalyst for their improved
academic motivation to attend and succeed in college.
PreK-12 Recommendations
Postsecondary Recommendations
Require all Institutions to Implement an Institutional-Level Early Alert
Many colleges and universities have support services (e.g., academic
advising, counseling, tutoring, financial aid, etc.) that can curb challenges
that inhibit student success in college. However, few institutions have
mechanisms in place that can readily connect these resources to students
when they are needed. Early alert systems have been identified as an
important strategy to remedy this problem. These systems enable college
personnel to identify and intervene with students who demonstrate
warning patterns (e.g., low test scores, absenteeism, missing assignments)
associated with premature departure. In optimal circumstances, early alert
systems detect concerns early in an academic semester/quarter, allowing
time for appropriate interventions to occur before final course marks are
significantly impacted. For instance, if a student misses several classes in a
row, an automatic alert would be generated as soon as attendance records
are updated by faculty members. In these cases, the student would receive
an electronic communication informing him that he is required to meet
with an intervention specialist (e.g., academic advisor or college counselor)
immediately. If a student fails to report to the intervention specialist by the
specified time frame, a follow-up is made by telephone. The specialists
work individually with students to identify root cause(s) of the challenges
they face (i.e., academic, personal, institutional), providing guidance and
referrals to key campus resources that can assist students. Unfortunately,
early alert systems are almost uniformly underutilized, targeted primarily
toward students in select areas (e.g., small retention programs, athletics).
The federal government should require all Title IV degree-granting
institutions to implement institutional-level early alert systems with
associated standards of practice. Moreover, mandated training should be
routinized that facilitates better utilization of the early alert system among
campus personnel who provide and respond to referrals.
Disaggregate Student Right-to-Know Data by Race/Ethnicity within
In November of 1990, Congress passed the Student Right-to-Know and
Campus Security Act, requiring all Title IV institutions to disclose completion
and graduation rates for current and prospective students. Specifically, per
the Act, colleges and universities must report completion and graduation
rates for certificate or degree-seeking full-time students. Student Right-to-
Know data are essential for enabling the public to hold institutions of higher
education accountable for student outcomes and allowing prospective
students to make more informed decisions about where to attend college.
However, the aggregate data mask disparities across racial/ethnic and
gender groups, particularly among men of color. For that reason, Student
Right-to-Know data should be disaggregated by race/ethnicity within
gender. For Title IV institutions, disaggregated data by race and gender are
already available for student athletes (per the Student Athlete Right-to-
Know). Data for the general student population should be similarly
available. This approach would provide prospective students and the
general public a more nuanced understanding of how colleges and
universities foster differential outcomes by student backgrounds. The Act
itself is somewhat flawed because it focuses specifically on full-time
studentseven as men of color overwhelmingly attend institutions such as
community colleges and for-profit colleges part-time. Thus, the law could
be strengthened by specifying that rates for part-time students also be
reported. Altogether, these revisions to the Act would assuredly stand to
benefit men of color as well as other subgroups experiencing deleterious
Postsecondary Recommendations
Mandate that Institutions Conduct a Self-Study of Student Experiences
and Outcomes with Data Disaggregated by Race within Gender
Federal agencies already require all institutions of higher education to track
the academic achievement and graduation rates of their students.
However, many institutions seem to have only a very limited understanding
of the specific personal factors (e.g., socioeconomic status, work ethic, self-
efficacy), in-college factors (e.g., student leadership, joining a fraternity,
studying abroad), and institutional factors (e.g., freshmen orientation,
number of required years of on-campus living, advisement system) that
foster success. While analyses of national datasets of college students can
yield interesting results regarding predictive factors, these studies should
serve as a guide rather than a prescription of colleges and universities.
National studies include a diverse set of schools and often aggregate data
that may mask wide variation within the data set. For instance, the impact
of living on campus in rural Iowa may differ from the impact of living on
campus in Washington, DC. It is imperative that each institution understand
the impact of various factors on its campus. Further, many institutions do
not consider the extent to which factors that foster college success vary by
race and gender. Institutions of higher learning should examine these
factors specifically among segments of the student body that do not reach
their full academic potential. According to national statistics, males of color,
often Black and Latino males, are not performing as well as members of
other racial/gender groups despite the potential to do so. If institutions
truly wish to understand and facilitate the success of all of their students,
then they have a moral obligation to investigate and scale up what works
for males of color and scale down what doesn’t. Regular self-studies should
be conducted that document student experiences and outcomes with data
disaggregated by race within gender. Whenever possible, this assessment
should incorporate a combination of research methods (e.g., surveys, focus
groups, archival research, and interviews) that allow for the authentic
voices of males of color to be heard. The use of mixed methods will also add
confidence to the results. Ultimately, high quality self-studies allow
institutions to improve their selection and support of males of color;
therefore, these practices should be integral to the operations of
institutions of higher learning.
Require Federally Designated Minority-Serving Institutions to include,
“Serving Historically Underserved Students” in their Strategic Plan with
Stated Student Success Goals
A considerable share of men of color students in postsecondary education
are enrolled in minority serving institutions (MSIs). Some of these
institutions, namely Tribal colleges and historically Black colleges and
universities (HBCUs), have historically maintained a mission to specifically
serve populations of color. However, a large contingent of MSIs receive that
designation based solely on the percentage of their respective student
populations who are students of color. The MSI designation allows
institutions to qualify for federal grants as Hispanic Serving Institutions
(HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Service
Institutions (AANAPISIs), and predominantly Black institutions (PBIs). The
scholarly community has levied criticism that some of these institutions are
minority enrolling, not necessarily minority serving. Specifically, some MSIs
have striking outcome gaps for students of color, and in particular, for men
of color. These outcome gaps raise concerns about whether funding from
the federal government intended to serve historically underrepresented
students in these institutions actually reach the intended student
populations. In light of these concerns, the federal government should
require that all federally designated minority-serving institutions include the
statement “serving historically underserved students” or similar phrases
(e.g., “serving men of color, “serving Latino students, “serving Asian
Americans) in their strategic plan. Moreover, the federal designation
should also require institutions to set specific student success goals and
associated benchmarks for achievement within their strategic plans along
with mechanisms to monitor performance toward identified targets. These
modifications will help ensure that institutions with an MSI designation are
actually serving the needs of the student populations they are designed to
Postsecondary Recommendations
Providing boys and men of color with viable educational advancement
opportunities is a matter of both social and economic importance. For many
young men of color, earning a college degree can change the course of their
lives and the lives of generations that follow. The policy recommendations
proposed herein are reflective of the innovative and collaborative efforts
that must be taken across the PreK-20 pipeline to redress the inequities
that have hampered educational opportunitiesand ultimately life
opportunitiesfor boys and men of color.
While these efforts aim specifically to improve educational outcomes for
boys and men of color, it should be noted that these recommendations also
stand to positively impact outcomes for other underrepresented and
underserved students. Moreover, the proposed recommendations do not
focus solely on remediating student deficits but instead address
institutional and systemic problems that enable outcome disparities to
persist. To this end, it is essential to build on the capacity and effectiveness
of educators who have a direct impact on the experiences of boys and men
of color within schools and classrooms. Likewise, decision-making and
practice at all levels should be informed by data and knowledge derived
from rigorous research and assessment. Finally, given the complexity of
challenges facing males of color, and the interdependent nature of social
and educational systems, efforts to improve educational outcomes for boys
and men of color must be collaborative, entailing sustained partnerships
with school districts, community partners, researchers, colleges and
universities, policymakers, and other key stakeholders.
Readers are encouraged to visit the appendix of this brief to review the
published research that served as the basis for the recommendations
described in this brief. Moreover, each center involved in the development
of this brief stands by available to advise and support policymakers who are
interested in pursuing efforts to enhance outcomes for boys and men of
color in society.
BPS (2009). U.S. Department of Education, 2003-04 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, Second Follow-up (BPS:04/09). Computation by NCES
PowerStats on 7/31/2014. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
Digest of Education Statistics (2012). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
(IPEDS), Fall 2001 and Spring 2007 through Spring 2012, Graduation Rates component. (This table was prepared November 2012.). Washington, DC: Author.
Harris III, F., Bensimon, E. M., & Bishop, R. (2010). The Equity Scorecard: A process for building institutional capacity t o educate young men of color. In C. Edley,
Jr. & J. Ruiz de Velasco (Eds.), Changing places: How communities will improve the health of boys of color (pp. 277-308). Berkeley: University of California Press.
NAEP (2013). U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2013 Mathematics and
Reading Assessment. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
Schott Foundation (2012). The urgency of now: The Schott 50 state report on public education and Black males. Cambridge, MA: Author.
White House (2014). My Brother’s Keeper. Retrieved June 2, 2014, from:
The authors of this brief would like to acknowledge Dr. James Earl Davis for inspiring this collaborative effort. We also would like to thank Benjamin Toff, Editorial
Associate at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion (Wei LAB), for his assistance with feedback and editorial support.
Harper, S. R., & Wood, J. L. (Eds.). (2015). Advancing Black male student success from preschool through Ph.D. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Jackson, J. F. L., Moore III, J. L., & Leon, R. A. (2010). Male underachievement in education Across the globe: A shift in paradigm for gender disparities regarding
academic achievement. In P. Peterson, E. Baker, & B. McGaw (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (volume 1) (pp. 838-844). Oxford: Elsevier.
PreK-12 Educational Contexts
Ford, D. Y., & Moore, J. L., III. (2013). Understanding and reversing underachievement, low achievement, achievement gaps among high-ability African American
males in urban school contexts. The Urban Review, 45, 399-415.
Harper, S. R., & Associates. (2014). Succeeding in the city: A report from the New York City Black and Latino Male High School Achievement Study. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania, Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education.
Howard, T.C. (2013). How does it feel to be a problem? Black male students, schools, and learning in enhancing the knowledge base to disrupt deficit
frameworks. Review of Research in Education, 37(1), pp. 66 98.
Howard, T.C. (2014). Black Male(d): Peril and promise in the education of African American males. New York: Teachers College Press.
Howard, T.C., Flennaugh, T., & Terry, C.L. (2011). Black males and the disruption of pathological identities: Implications for research and teaching. Educational
Foundations, 85-102.
Moore, J. L., III. (2006). A qualitative investigation of African American males’ career trajectory in engineering: Implications for teachers, counselors, and parents.
Teachers College Record, 108, 246-266.
Moore, J. L., III, & Flowers, L. A. (2012). Increasing the representation of African American males in gifted and talented programs. In S. Lewis, M. Casserly, C.
Simon, R. Uzzell, & M. Palacios (Eds.), A call for change: Providing solutions for Black male achievement (pp. 67-81). Council of Great City Schools: Washington,
Moore, J. L., III, & Lewis, C. W. (Eds.). (2014). African American male students in PreK-12 schools: Implications for research, practice, and policy. United Kingdom:
Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Recommended Readings
PreK-12 Educational Contexts
Reynolds, R. E., Howard, T. C., & Jones, T. K. (2013). Is this what educators really want? Transforming the discourse on Black fathers and their participation in
schools. Race Ethnicity and Education. doi:10.1080/13613324.2012.759931.
Postsecondary Educational Contexts
Harper, S. R. (2012). Black male student success in higher education: A report from the National Black Male College Achievement Study. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania, Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education.
Harper, S. R., & Harris III, F. (2012). A role for policymakers in improving the status of Black male students in U.S. higher education. Washington, DC: Institute for
Higher Education Policy.
Harper, S. R., Williams Jr., C. D., & Blackman, H. W. (2013). Black male student-athletes and racial inequities in NCAA Division I college sports. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania, Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education.
Harris III, F., Bensimon, E. M., & Bishop, R. (2010). The Equity Scorecard: A process for building institutional capacity to educate young men of color. In C. Edley,
Jr. & J. Ruiz de Velasco (Eds.), Changing places: How communities will improve the health of boys of color (pp. 277-308). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Harris III, F., & Harper, S.R. (2008). Masculinities go to community college: Understanding male identity socialization and gender role conflict. In J. Lester (Ed.),
Gendered Perspectives on Community Colleges: New Directions for Community Colleges, 142 (pp.25-35). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Harris III, F., Palmer, R., & Struve, L.E. (2011). “Cool posing” on campus: A qualitative study of masculinities and gender expression among Black men at private
research institution. Journal of Negro Education, 80(1), 47-62.
Harris III, F., & Wood, J. L. (2014). Examining the status of men of color in California community colleges: Recommendations for state policymakers. San Diego, CA:
Minority Male Community College Collaborative, San Diego State University.
Jackson, J. F. L. (2003). Toward administrative diversity: An analysis of the African American male educational pipeline. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 12(1), 43-60.
Jackson, J. F. L. (2006). Hiring practices of African American males in academic leadership position at American colleges and universities: An employment trends
and disparate impact analysis. Teachers College Record, 108(2), 316-338.
Recommended Readings
Postsecondary Educational Contexts
Jackson, J. F. L., Charleston, L. J., George, P. L., & Gilbert, J. E. (2012). Factors that attract African American males to computer science: A study of aspiring and
current professionals. In M. C. Brown & T. E. Dancy (Eds.), African American males and education: Researching the convergence of race and identity (pp. 189
201). Information Age.
Marks, B. T., (In press) Understanding the Minority Student College Experience and Its Implications for Practice. In Jerlando Jackson (Eds.), Advancing Equity and
Diversity in Student Affairs, Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing,
Marks, B. T., (2012) Black Males in Private Institutions of Higher Education (Non-Profit), in Hilton, A., Wood, J., and Lewis, C. (Eds) Black Males in Postsecondary
Education: Examining their Experiences in Diverse Institutional Contexts,
Marks, B. T., Haynes, J. K., Brown, J. P. (2012) Institutional Integration, Institutional Identity, and Degree Attainment of Black Males in STEM Attending Co-
Educational and All-Men’s HBCUs, in Lawrence Flowers, James Moore, and Lamont Flowers (Eds.), Advancing Educational Outcomes in Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, University Press of America (Lanham, MD).
Marks, B. T. & Reid, Karl (2013) The Rapidly Changing Landscape in Higher Education and Its Impact on African American Students. The Journal of Negro
Education. 82(3)
Moore, J. L., III, Flowers, L. A., & Flowers, L. O. (2014). Exploratory study of the factors affecting the academic and career development of African American males
in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics In F. Bonner III (Ed.), Frameworks and models of black male success: A guide for P-12 and postsecondary
educators. Herndon, VA: Stylus.
Sáenz, V. B., Ponjuan, L. & Figueroa, J. (Eds) (forthcoming) Latino Males in Higher Education. Stylus Publishing.
Sáenz, V. B., & Ponjuan, L. (2009). The vanishing Latino male in higher education. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education.
Sáenz, V. B., & Ponjuan, L. (2011). Men of Color: Ensuring the Academic Success of Latino Males in Higher Education. Institute for Higher Education Policy.
Thomas, D., Smith, C. D., Marks, B.T., Crosby, B. (2012). Institutional Identity and Self-Esteem Among African American Males in College. Journal of African
American Males in Education. 3(1)
Recommended Readings
Postsecondary Educational Contexts
Wood, J. L., & Hilton, A. A. (2012). A meta-synthesis of literature on Black males in the community college: An overview on nearly forty years of policy
recommendations. In A. A. Hilton, J. L. Wood, & C. W. Lewis (Eds.), Black Males in postsecondary education: Examining their experiences in diverse institutional
contexts. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
Wood, J. L. (2014). Apprehension to engagement in the classroom: Perceptions of Black males in the community college. International Journal of Qualitative
Studies in Education, 27(6), 785-803.
Jackson, J. F. L. (2008). Race segregation across the academic workforce: Exploring factors that may contribute to the disparate representation of African
American men. American Behavioral Scientist, 51, 1004-1029.
Recommended Readings
The Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education
(University of Pennsylvania)
The Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education unites University of Pennsylvania scholars who do research on race a nd important topics pertaining to
equity in education. Principally, the Center aims to publish cutting-edge implications for education policy and practice, with an explicit focus on improving equity
in P-12 schools, colleges and universities, and social contexts that influence educational outcomes.
Minority Male Community College Collaborative
(San Diego State University)
The mission of the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3) is to develop knowledge and advance promising practices that enhance access,
achievement and success among historically underrepresented and underserved men in the community college. Through institutional- and program-level needs
assessment, we facilitate capacity building among community colleges to better serve these men.
About Us
Morehouse Research Institute
(Morehouse College)
The Morehouse Research Institute (MRI) is a self-supporting research and service unit at Morehouse College. Established in 1990, the MRI is a national
clearinghouse of information about the more than 18 million African-American males in the United States. Our major thrust is research, publications and
symposia to address the dearth of scholarship on issues affecting African-American men.
Project MALES and the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color
(University of Texas at Austin)
Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) is multi-faceted research and mentoring initiative based within the Division of Diversity and
Community Engagement (DDCE) at the University of Texas at AustinProject MALES encompasses three interrelated initiatives: an ongoing research agenda
focused on understanding the experiences of Latino males across the education pipeline; a mentoring program that aims to cultivate an engaged support
network for males of color at UT-Austin and across the Central Texas community; and, a newly launched statewide P-16 Consortium focused on the success of
male students of color.
About Us
Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male
(The Ohio State University)
The mission of the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male is to examine and address critical issues in society that impact the
quality of life for African American males throughout the lifespan. The Center plans to achieve these goals by conducting robust research studies and evaluations
that inform social policy and theory on African American males and developing research-based programs, models, and initiatives that could be replicated at other
Black Male Institute
(University of California, Los Angeles)
The primary goal at the Black Male Institute is to conduct reliable research, practical interventions, and effective programs that enrich the educational
experiences and life chances of Black males in the United States. We do this work by engaging researchers, scholars, practitioners, community based
organizations, policy makers and students in our work across the P-20 spectrum.
About Us
Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory
(University of Wisconsin-Madison)
The mission of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) is to design, conduct, and disseminate research that inf orms policymakers, practitioners,
and concerned citizens on how to best promote equitable and inclusive learning and work environments in education in general, and higher education in
particular. The Lab’s research agenda and priorities seek to engage the most difficult and important equity and inclusio n topics confronting the educational
About Us
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Full-text available
This article focuses on the achievement gap, with attention devoted to underachievement and low achievement among African American males in urban school contexts. More specifically, the article explains problems and issues facing or confronting these Black male students in urban education settings. A central part of this discussion is grounded in the achievement gap literature on Black students in general and implications for Black males in particular. Another fundamental aspect of this discussion is the need for urban educators to adopt a social justice or civil rights approach to their work, which means an equity-based and culturally responsive approach in philosophy and action. Suggestions for closing the achievement gap and otherwise improving the achievement of gifted, highachieving, and high potential African American males are provided to urban education educators and families.
Full-text available
In recent popular publications, such as Newsweek and New Republic, several articles have suggested that females outperform males at the elementary and secondary levels and are increasingly outnumbering them at the postsecondary level. This, in turn, has led to the question of "What is happening to boys?" Based largely on the concept of human capital, our inquiry into this question explores male performance on standard indicators throughout the educational pipeline (i.e., elementary, secondary, and postsecondary) and offers specific recommendations to address the education crisis of males.
Full-text available
Parent involvement within schools has garnered attention since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 mandated that parent participation be a condition for federal funding. This particular caveat has been significant because issues of race and class come to the forefront when examining schools that receive federal funding. A close examination of parent involvement becomes increasingly salient, in particular for students of color who are more likely than their White peers to attend schools receiving federal funding. In this qualitative study of 16 participants, we seek to narrow the focus of parents, and pay particular attention to Black fathers. The role of Black fathers has been largely absent from the educational discourse on parent involvement at both the local and federal levels, and within the literature, the roles, practices, and strategies of involvement for Black fathers has been scant compared to their White peers. This absence from the literature is noteworthy given the important role that involvement plays in educational success coupled with Black students’ perennial underperformance in US schools. The purpose of this work is to highlight findings from a study that examined the voices, perspectives, and involvement practices that Black fathers used to build relationships with school personnel in an effort to advocate on behalf of their sons and daughters and improve their overall schooling experiences.
Using theories and concepts relating to the social construction of Black masculinity and male gender role conflict, the authors explored contextualized meanings of masculinities and corresponding behavioral expressions among 22 Black men enrolled at a private research university. The concepts of toughness, aggressiveness, material wealth, restrictive emotionality, and responsibility underscored the meanings the participants ascribed to masculinities. Participants expressed these concepts behaviorally through their pursuit of leadership and academic success, homophobia, and the fear of femininity, and through the sexist and constrained relationships they experienced with women. Based on the findings, practical implications for supporting the gender identity development and success of Black men during their undergraduate years are offered as are recommendations for future research on the gender-related experiences of Black male undergraduates.
This study presents selected findings drawn from a larger investigation of Black male students in the community college. In the larger study, qualitative interviews were conducted with 28 Black males attending a public two-year college in the southwestern United States. The focus of the larger study was on identifying factors which, from the perspectives of students, affected their academic success. Academic success referred primarily to students’ grade point averages or achievement and secondarily to continuation towards students’ self-proclaimed collegiate goals. A large portion of Black male participants in this study indicated that academic disengagement served to negatively affect their achievement in the community college. Students discussed academic disengagement as a reluctance to fully engage as active agents in their own academic development through necessary interactions.