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Black & Latino Male Students Less Likely to Graduate Boston Schools; Rate Higher for Special Needs Students

First Posted: Nov 18, 2014 11:14 AM EST

Black and Latino male students are not faring well in the Boston school system.

According to a recent city-commissioned report, Asian and white male students are 1.2 times more likely to graduate than their black counterparts and 1.4 times more likely than Latino males in the same district.

The Center for Collaborative Education, a Boston-based nonprofit, and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University prepared the report, which outlines the educational crisis whereby black and Latino males lag behind peers on MCAS scores, high school graduation and attendance rates while they outperform peers in dropout rates and suspensions.

Data between 2009 and 2012 was examined to reveal that Boston may have two school systems, "one that provides white and Asian males with the best learning opportunities and a separate, removed one for black and Latino students with diminished educational opportunities." The report, which is believed to be the most comprehensive analysis of the performance of black and Latino males in Boston schools, highlights inequities in education.

The report was released on the heels of the 40th anniversary of Boston's court-ordered school desegregation, and it addresses disparities in educational access and resources for Latinos and Blacks, which translates to lower lifelong prospects, fewer career opportunities and restricted college.

Advanced Work Class programs, an accelerated academic curriculum for students in grades 4-6, has large imbalances when it comes to enrollment and access. Black and Latino males comprised 79.2 percent of the male enrollment in that facility in 2012, but they account for less than half of male enrollment today. Inequalities continue, and by the time Latino and black students reach high school, they are 1.7 and 3.2 times more likely, respectively, to be suspended than white male peers.

More than 8 percent (8.6) of black males and 8 percent Latinos were enrolled in Boston's prestigious exam school in 2012. However, 47.8 percent of Asian and 45 percent of white males were enrolled in exam schools in 2012.

Black and Latino males students with special needs are disproportionately enrolled in substantially separate, more restrictive classroom settings, even though research indicates students with disabilities have better outcomes when they are instructed in general education settings. Black male students were enrolled in separate settings at twice the rate of white male students in 2012, and Latino male students were segregated at 1.6 times the rate.

Elementary grade special needs students who are white and male are 1.5 times more likely than Latino male students to be placed in general education settings, and 1.7 times likelier than black male students.

The research wrote a number of recommendations to address the issue, including converting each classroom in grades 4 to 6 into advanced-work programs. Some recommendation endorse expanding early childhood education, diversifying the teaching force and increasing efforts to train teachers on unintentional biases against others of different races, which could affect suspicion and discipline rates.

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