South Carolina is one of five states with the lowest graduation rate in the nation for African-American males (Superville, 2015). BLACK LIVES MATTER: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males (2015) noted that South Carolina has a graduation rate of 51%. Hence, we were concerned when we reviewed the data of the students that were in their fourth year of high school, but did not meet the promotion requirements (Goal 3). In August, 2016 there were 80 students on the data list. When we disaggregated the data, we found that 44 students (55%) were African-American males. The data called for us to focus our interventions and involvement on African-American male students so that we could assist them with their academic, career and personal/social goals and close the achievement gap.
Rolland (2011) found that parental support plays a vital role in the academic achievement of African-American male students. Thus, the best practice was to make a concerted effort to keep in contact with the African-American males and their parents constantly and consistently by conferences, phone calls, letters, and/or email messages. The plan for our involvement and interventions were:
In August and September, we conducted individual student conferences; advised students of the additional options that were available to earn high school credits (credit recovery, virtual school courses, Summer school credit options).
In August and September, we discussed post-secondary options and plans, provided access to college & career planning resources through the utilization of Naviance.
In October, January, March and May, we reviewed quarterly grades and attendance; provided tutoring resources; coordinated parent/teacher conferences; encouraged students and parents to constantly check Parent Portal for updates on grades and attendance.
In January, we conducted mid-year individual student conferences; advised students of the additional options that were available to earn high school credits (credit recovery, virtual school courses, Summer school credit options).
In May, we conducted individual student conferences; advised students of the additional options that were available to earn high school credits (credit recovery, virtual school courses, Summer school credit options).
In our haste to gather outcome data, we neglected to gather perception data from the targeted group of African-American males. However, we did administer them senior conference and graduation surveys. Nevertheless, there was no way for us to disaggregate the data to our targeted African-American males. To correct this oversight, we already created a survey to administer to the students that are in their fourth year of high school, but do not meet the promotion requirements. This error in the collection of data taught us to be more cognizant of the types of data that we need to gather. It also made us study the ASCA National Model Implementation Guide to learn how to create better and meaningful surveys. Additionally, collecting the perception data would have helped us effectively work with future students and hone in on the specific ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors that would be beneficial for this targeted group so that they can achieve their highest potential.
Since Knight (2015) noted that school, family, environment/community and African-American males themselves contributed to a high number of them dropping out, we discussed what type of plan we needed to develop and when. We brainstormed the idea of creating a small group specifically for African-American males in their fourth year of high school to teach them study skills, time management skills and life lessons about being an African-American male in the 21st Century. We also discussed collaborating with administration and the math department to allow students in their third year of high school to enroll in two math courses. Allowing the students to enroll in two math courses one year earlier would significantly reduce the number of students not promoted to 12th grade since the majority of them were classified as juniors due to their lack of math credits.
Our efforts to increase the graduation rate of our African-American males were successful as we surpassed the state graduation rate of 51% for American-American males. By June 30, 2017, twenty-four (67%) of our African-American males graduated with a high school diploma, three (8%) graduated with a non-traditional diploma and nine (25%) did not graduate. As a result of our success, we are going to continue with the interventions of constant and consistent communication with the parents and students on an individual basis. However, we will do a better job of targeting ASCA’s Mindsets & Behaviors to ensure that we continue to make an impact on student achievement and academic performance.