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Boston Public Schools studying black and Latino male students’ success rates

Martin Desmarais | 8/21/2013, 10:45 a.m.

The efforts have the full support and backing of BPS interim superintendent John McDonough, who praised the efforts to improve education.

“We are building a team of dedicated, culturally diverse educators, and this study will help us better understand how we can truly challenge all students,” said McDonough. “Being a top-performing urban district is not enough for us. We must raise the bar even higher for all children.”

Simmons said the ultimate goal is to eliminate the achievement gap among all students.

“That is a high bar to reach. … To reach it you have to be constantly vigilant and research your own best practices,” he said. “This is something that doesn’t go away. … You really have to stay in front of this issue by examining the data.”

Simmons points out that Boston is not unique in examining the achievement of black males. In fact, several such studies have been conducted in school systems in New Orleans and Washington, D.C.

The data in those cases showed that black male students were not getting what they needed to be successful. The good news is the school systems were able to improve performances.

Simmons and Blake both bring a personal identification with the project that they say drives them to make sure it is successful.

“I am an African American male, and I have experienced these things in my own education career, being disengaged at times and having teachers come to my rescue and having peers come to my rescue. … It would have been better if the whole system had been mobilized,” said Simmons.

“I am a product of the Boston Public Schools. … For me it is like paying it forward. I never want a young man to come to Boston Public Schools [and] to have to change his career because he did not have the right preparation,” Blake said. “I want every young man to become what he wants to become.”