First, the good news: High school graduation rates are improving for Latino and black male students in New York City. The bad news? Many of those new graduates are not ready for college coursework.
Those are the key findings of a new report by the Research Alliance for New York City, based at New York University. The report, “Moving the Needle: Exploring Key Levers to Boost College Readiness Among Black and Latino Males in New York City”, shows that getting minority students to the high school finish line isn’t enough. Schools must look beyond graduation, and also focus on whether they are preparing young men for future college success.
Between 2002 and 2010, the graduation rate for Latino males in New York City improved from 45 percent to 59 percent. For black males, the rate improved from 45 to 57 percent. However, the study found that just 11 percent of Latino males and 9 percent of black males are ready for college.
Male minority students are falling behind females. To address the achievement gap, Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the “Young Men’s Initiative” two years ago. The Expanded Success Initiative (ESI) was also created to assist 40 schools with improving outcomes for male students.
Adriana Villavicencio, the study’s co-author, told Diverse Issues in Higher Education that the study is meant to support and evaluate the city’s efforts. “ESI is really focused on college and career readiness of black and Latino males,” she told the publication. “And we thought it would be important to ask what does that look like in New York City?”
The report points to the challenges facing young minority male students. Those issues include the overrepresentation of black and Latino boys in special education courses, high suspension rates, and limited access to advanced courses. The report recommends that the ESI program focus its resources on the ninth grade first, before expanding to the upper grades. It also establishes goals such as increasing the number of males taking honors courses, and offering mentoring and freshmen seminars to boys.
For the purposes of the report, college readiness is defined by the New York State Education Department’s “Aspirational Performance Measure.” Readiness is defined as equivalent to a Regents diploma, and a score of 80 or higher on the Regents math exam and 75 or higher on the English exam.