Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Academic Achievement Gap of Young Black Boys

The achievement of young black boys in school has an impact, not only on black children and their families, but on our country as a whole. Unfortunately, while we know that under educating our children will impact our nation’s workforce, economy and quality of life in the future as significant equity issues continue to impact black boys in school. Piercing statistics highlight the importance of this troubling issue as only 62% percent of black students graduate from high school, compared to 81% of their white peers. Furthermore, in some large urban areas more than half of black males drop out of high school. The poverty rate for black children is three times higher than the rate of white children and the unemployment rate for black males over the age of 20 is 17.5% compared to white males at 9.1%. These statistics and others were recently shared at a symposium in Washington DC. On June 14, 2011 ETS and co-sponsor Children's Defense Fund held a symposium at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., highlighting the problematic issues regarding the education of young black boys (age 0-9)as well as the promising and creative strategies utilized to lessen the achievement gap. The speakers addressed issues of academic equity and factors impacting performance; contributors included researchers, practitioners, teachers and advocates. In order to ensure the academic and economic future of our communities policymakers must pay attention to these disparities; especially as it relates to education and early childhood development.

One solution suggested throughout the symposium was the development and implementation of a quality and comprehensive pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten programs; and the importance of aligning the initial academic stages in creating a sound educational foundation. Policymakers should take into account the significance of early childhood education as a means to improve the academic achievement gap among students of color as well as in alleviating the disparities that arise in areas such as income and wealth, incarceration, and life expectancy.

For more information on racial equity and strategies for improving early childhood learning, visit

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