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PUBLIC EDUCATION AND BLACK MALE STUDENTS: Report Finds Large Graduation Gaps Between White and Black Male Students

Rating
“At a time of the year when parents, relatives, and friends all over the nation come together to celebrate high school graduates, we cannot forget that a large number of students continue to be left behind annually,” said Dr. Rosa A. Smith

Only 45% of male African-American students graduate from high school on time, compared to 70% of white male students, according to a new report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education. The report, Public Education and Black Male Students: The 2006 State Report Card, compares the graduation rates for African-American students and their white classmates in each state and finds gaps of more than 25% in 11 states.

“At a time of the year when parents, relatives, and friends all over the nation come together to celebrate high school graduates, we cannot forget that a large number of students continue to be left behind annually,” said Dr. Rosa A. Smith, president of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. “We need to do more to help this predictably vulnerable student population.”

Using what it calls the Schott Education Inequity Index (SEII), the report highlights the disparities in the quality of education provided to African-American students by examining their high school graduation rates vis-à-vis their white classmates. To calculate the SEII, the report subtracts the graduation rate for black males from 100% and adds that number to the difference between the graduation rates of white and black males.1 States and school districts with the lowest graduation rates for black males and the largest disparity between graduation rates for black and white males will receive the highest (worst) SEII. The states with the highest and lowest SEII are featured in the table below.

Bottom Five SEII States

Top Five SEII States

State SEII Black Male Grad. Rate White Male Grad. Rate Gap State SEII Black Male Grad. Rate White Male Grad. Rate Gap
Wisconsin 1.09 38% 84% 47% Arizona .22 85% 93% 7%
 

New York

 

.99

 

38%

 

76%

 

38%

Rhode Island  

.39

 

66%

 

71%

 

5%

 

Illinois

 

.95

 

44%

 

84%

 

40%

 

Utah

 

.40

 

73%

 

85%

 

12%

 

Indiana

 

.95

 

38%

 

71%

 

33%

West Virginia  

.50

 

61%

 

71%

 

10%

 

Michigan

 

.94

 

39%

 

73%

 

33%

 

Arkansas

 

.51

 

62%

 

74%

 

12%

 

In examining the 59 school districts that enroll more than 10,000 black males, the report finds that only 12 districts graduate 50% or more of their black male students, while 19 graduate less than a third of their black male students. Black males are not the only boys who struggle to learn in these districts; very few districts with more than 10,000 black males have graduation rates for white males at or above the national average. That said, black males fare far worse than white males in most districts, with 29 districts having graduation rate gaps of 15% or higher between the two student groups. The biggest offenders are in the table below.

School District

Black Male Enrollment

Black Male 
Graduation Rate

White Male 
Graduation Rate

Gap

District of Columbia

27,432

49%

95%

46%

Fulton Co., GA

14,567

37%

76%

39%

Charleston Co., SC

12,314

44%

81%

36%

Milwaukee

29,170

34%

64%

30%

Oakland

10,667

26%

57%

30%

 

In some heartening news, the report identifies a “remarkable group of districts” in suburban Maryland—Baltimore County, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County—as evidence that it is possible to close achievement gaps and to graduate black male students. “Considered together,” the report reads, “[these three districts] enroll the third largest population of African-American males in the country (85,000+) and graduate them with their peers at a rate comparable to the national average for white male students.”

The complete report is available at http://www.schottfoundation.org/publications/Schott%202006%20Report.pdf.

1) For example, Indiana has a black male graduation rate of 38% and a white male graduation rate of 71%. To calculate SEII, subtract the black male graduation rate (38%) from 100% to equal 62%. Then add the 62% to the difference (33%) between the white male graduation rate (71%) and the black male graduation rate (38%) and end up with a total of 95%, or .95.

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.