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BREAKING BARRIERS : Dr. Ivory A. Toldson Plotting the Path

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1 BREAKING BARRIERS : Dr. Ivory A. Toldson Plotting the Path Twitter: @Toldson

2 Dear High School Guidance Counselors: Yesterday, I heard Michelle Obama talk about the anger that she felt when her guidance counselor tried to persuade her not to apply to Princeton. Her counselor told her that Princeton was too competitive for someone with her background. Ms. Obama set out to prove her counselor wrong, and she did. The story is familiar. A young Hispanic man from Los Angeles told me that his guidance counselor tried to persuade him not to apply to Stanford because his SAT scores were low. He applied any, was accepted, graduated, and remained at Stanford for graduate school. I also watched a documentary called Tale of Two Schools. At a predominately White public high school in Long Island, New York, the guidance counselor told her student that he needed a “reach” school. Only a few miles away, at a predominately Black public high school in Long Island, a Black guidance counselor convinced a Black student with a B average that he needed to apply to a “safe” school, i.e. a community college. These are the points: 1. It is NOT your job to tell any student what they can’t do. It is your job to find out what they want to do and teach them the best strategy to make it happen. 2. It is NOT your job to provide a student with the easiest or most convenient option. It is your job to help them to plot the path to the BEST option. Let 9th graders know that a college will not look at anything they did from K – 8, so this is your chance to make it happen. Let 12th graders know that there is only one way to guarantee that they will not be accepted to a college; which is not applying. Tell them all to ‪ # ‎ reachhigher ‬. ‪ # ‎ reachhigher ‬ Respectfully, Ivory


4  Fact - According to the Schott Foundation report only 28% of Black males graduate  Logic - 72% of the city's young Black males being out of school.  Meaning – About 155,000 Black males in NYC between the ages of 16 and 24 are high school dropouts, with the remaining less than 61,000 in high school or college, or finishing any type of diploma or degree program. Feeling & Behaviors – Fear, demagoguery, extreme agendas. STOP – let’s revisit the fact. College Prep vs. Dropout Prevention About 85 percent of Black males in NYC graduate from High School or receive a GED

5 10 Biggest Lies About Black Males and Academic Success 1. There are more black men in prison than in college 2. Black boys can’t read 3. Black youth of today are more violent than any generation in history 4. One third of black boys will serve time in prison 5. Black boys are at a natural disadvantage because most are from single-parent households 6. Black students purposefully underachieve because they associate being smart with acting white 7. Black males are avoiding the teaching profession 8. 50% of Black boys drop out. 9. Black men are underrepresented in institutions of higher education 10. Black men are a “dying breed.”


7 Numbers That Count 4 Units of math & science  College preparation requires: Math – Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus Science – Biology, Chemistry, Physics (most common)  Recommendation  PREPS (public reciprocity for education for postsecondary success) In Jackson Public Schools, a system that is 97% Black, more students were referred to law enforcement (476) than the number of students who took Calculus (120) or Physics (129) combined in the year 2011. Black students are behind their peers in the percent who are taking college preparatory classes. Fifty-three percent of Asian students, 24 percent of White students, 16 percent of Hispanic students, and 12 percent of Black students are taking pre-calculus or calculus by the 11th grade.

8 Numbers that Count 3.0 Collective GPA  Collective GPA is a good measure of positive outcomes  The mean GPA for all students, regardless of race is 3.0 (according to the High School Transcript Study)  Many schools with the worst problems have a composite GPA closer to 2.0  Recommendations  All schools publish & track GPA  Make 3.0 a benchmark of success  “lifting tides” approach

9 Numbers that Count 25% of Black Students in Honors Classes  Nationwide,25% of high school students are enrolled in honors classes (according to the High School Longitudinal Survey)  Recommendation  Offer Black students access to honors classes that reflect national averages 33% White Females27% White Males 22% Black Females15% Black Males

10 Numbers that Count 6% or less of Black Students in SPED  Nationwide, 6% of high school students are in special education  Black males are the most likely to be placed in special education  Recommendations  Schools need to eliminate the biases assigned to black males and special education  Reduce the representation of Black males to reflect the national average.

11 Numbers that Count 10% or less of Black students suspended  Suspensions must not exceed the national average for adequate progress  National suspension rate for all students is 10%  Suspension rate for Black males is 26% (according to the High School Longitudinal Survey)  Recommendations  Suspension benchmark should be no more than 3% (rate of suspensions among white students)  Support disengaged students (e.g. tutoring, mentoring, counseling)

12 Student Characteristics  Three groups of students who typically get suspended  Category 1, are students who have delinquent behavior patterns, and routinely bring drugs, alcohol, weapons, and other contraband to the school.  Category 2, are students who are disengaged from school, and routinely come to class late, often miss assignments, and acknowledge finding schoolwork too difficult to understand.  Category 3, are have aggressive behavior, and admitted to fighting at school, participating in group fights, and injuring others during a fight. Which group accounts for most suspensions?

13 Numbers that Count 100% Involved in Extracurricular Activities  Extracurricular activities promote positive outcomes and reduce negative behaviors  Recommendations  Survey students’ participation in extracurricular activities  Implement targeted initiatives to increase involvement

14 Beyond the Numbers Training and Resources  Black students are most likely to have teachers that  Are of a different race and gender  Receive less pay  Have fewer years teaching experience  Recommendation  The federal government provide funds to: Supplement teacher salaries in poor communities Make funding to Teach for America contingent upon improved diversity initiatives

15 Beyond the Numbers Parents’ Role  Academic socialization  Physical Presence at school  Home based support Dear Dr. Toldson: You do not know me, but an article you wrote last year (which I just recently found) made my day. The article I am referring to is titled "Single Parents Aren't the Problem" and was published on The Root. I am writing to simply say thank you - your article helped me feel better about being a single mother of 4 boys. I was so moved by the article that I created an infographic about it and posted it on my blog which you can find here:

16 People always ask me, “If we don’t use state tests, how would we know how a school is doing.” Let me think… We can use:  Average attendance  Collective GPA  Participation in competitions (science fairs, spelling bees, math competition)  Suspension rate  Student satisfaction surveys  Curriculum reviews  Teachers’ total number of hours in professional development  Teacher’s credential and certification  Percent of students participating in extracurricular activities  Percent of students in honors and AP classes  Dropout rate  Graduation rate  Postsecondary placement  Percent of students advancing to 4-year colleges  Number of home visits  Frequency of contact with parents  Counselor to student ratio  Teacher to student ratio  Administrative tenure  Number of enrichment programs  Age and quality of textbooks  Time using technology  Time spent participating in laboratory experiences  When necessary, evaluative national assessments (not to be used for high stakes)

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