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YES WE CAN: A Present Day Snapshot of the Persisting Achievement Gap

In the majority of U.S. states, districts, communities, and schools, conditions do not exist for black males to systemically succeed in education, according to a new report released by the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males finds that nationally in School Year (SY) 2007–08 school year, only 47 percent of black males graduated from high school compared to 78 percent of white males which created a 31 point national achievement gap.

The report stresses that black males do not perform poorly in all parts of the country and highlights the states and school districts that have succeeded in closing the achievement gap as proof that all children can learn given equitable opportunities. The top-performing states for black males include Maine, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Idaho while the lowest performing states include Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, Washington, DC, and Ohio. On the district level, New Jersey’s Newark district tops the list with a graduation rate of 75 percent for black males in SY 2007–08. On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest-performing school district was Jefferson Parish in Louisiana with a black male graduation rate of 28 percent.

Yes We Can provides several conditions for success in closing the achievement gap including

  • equitable resources to support students to master rigorous, content standards-based education;
  • universal, well-planned and high quality preschool education for all three- and four-year-olds;
  • programs to address student and school needs attributable to high poverty such as intensive early literature or after school and summer programming;
  • new and rehabilitated facilities to adequately house all programs, relieve overcrowding, and eliminate health and safety violations; and
  • state accountability to ensure progress in improving student achievement.

To read the complete report and view more state- and district-level breakdowns of the black male graduation rate, go to

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.