April 1, 2015
Boston Public Schools (BPS) commissioned companion studies as part of its efforts to address achievement gaps for Black and Latino males. The first study revealed the increasing diversity of Black and Latino males and stark opportunity gaps throughout the system that contribute in large part to wide attainment gaps for these students. We hypothesized that in schools doing comparatively better with Black or Latino males than their counterparts, educators would be strategically and comprehensively implementing evidence-based cultural, structural, and instructional practices tailored to meet their the needs and aspirations of these students. Through qualitative case studies of four schools, we identified several cross-cutting themes that provide the district and school leaders with some positive news about effective practices found in all good schools: strong school cultures, professional collaboration, differentiated instruction, and, in the elementary schools, family engagement. While we observed pockets of best practices specific to Black and Latino male education, we also brought to light unfinished business, in that none of the four case study schools had an intentional and comprehensive schoolwide approach to educating Black and Latino males. This lack of intentionality resulted in a paucity of evidence that the school administration and faculty as a whole: (a) know and value students' cultural and linguistic backgrounds; (b) adopt explicit and responsive approaches to race and gender; and (c) develop and implement a comprehensive approach to culturally responsive curriculum and instruction. We posit that lack of knowledge, intentionality, and coherence impedes further progress in educating Black and Latino males, and has implications for educators in schools, for staff members in community partner organizations, and for family members of BPS students.