Programs for African American Students in SFUSD Continue to Support Achievement and Success

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Programs for African American Students in SFUSD Continue to Support Achievement and Success

Press Release

San Francisco (June 24, 2022) - The African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative (AAALI) within the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) shared an update of the department’s programming, and the felt impact from African American students and their families.

The Executive Summary highlights AAALI program evaluation, research, and areas for opportunity. Current programs include the Mastering Cultural Identity course, the African American Parent Advisory Council (AAPAC), Advance, and Black Star Rising.

“We have seen many successes over the last several years in improving outcomes for African American students, such as narrowing the gap in graduation rates between African American students and other student populations,” Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “Although we have made progress in our efforts to reach each and every SFUSD student, we know that there are still persistent gaps in access, experiences and outcomes of our Black students in our district, city and country.”

Research Findings

To assist in their program evaluation, AAALI partnered with Ceres Policy Research to conduct focus groups and interviews with Black families, students participating in AAALI programs, and SFUSD staff, as well as conduct a review of past Social Emotional Learning / Culture and Climate Survey results and publicly accessible SFUSD reports. AAALI has learned from this research that:

  • AAPAC parents have gone above and beyond to create a community for, advocate for, and share information with isolated Black families.
  • SFUSD administrators and school site leaders value check-ins, but are confused about whether Advance or other SFUSD programs are supporting check-ins at their sites.
  • Black parents appreciate the effort that Black Star Rising has made to develop deep relationships with their children. These relationships are building a crucial bridge between Black children, their families, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) classes.
  • Mastering Cultural Identity continues to cultivate a deep sense of self and love of Black history and culture. Parents report that their children bring this connection home, teaching family members what they've learned and continuing to do more research on their own time.

AAPAC Designs ‘How To’ Guide to Inspire School Site Support

AAPAC has published its first iteration of a ‘How To’ guide to support school sites and families with developing and sustaining site-based affinity groups. With the support of Be the Change, Inc. AAPAC held a series of family design sessions to guide the content and layout of the guide. Over the summer and into the fall, AAPAC will hold a series of usability focus groups and initial monitoring of implementation at sites seeking to form AAPACs. These efforts will assist with producing an updated version for mass distribution, as well as developing a series of videos accessible to the public.

Advance Implements Teacher Check-In System

Advance is a support framework for school service providers that offers strategies for tiered support. In the last year, Advance implemented a Teacher Check-In system at school sites to help engage and connect with students in danger of failing classes between grading periods. Sites monitored the status of the check-ins in a tracker so that instructional staff could follow progress and receive updates.

Black Star Rising Adds Supplemental Course

The Black Star Rising summer program, which is designed to improve students’ grades in STEM courses, added the BSR Freedom Academy for the 2020-21 school year. The weekend supplemental course is designed for rising 9th grade students with the goal to improve their STEM skills before joining the full BSR program, and is offered again this summer.

Mastering Cultural Identity Course Centers Youth Voice

Presidio Middle School and Willie Brown Middle School students in the Mastering Cultural Identity course, which utilizes culturally-affirming curriculum and pedagogies and creates safe and healing classroom spaces, participated in a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) research study in partnership with the Kingmakers of Oakland. Through SFUSD’s iLab Innovation Award process, this study allowed AAALI to learn directly from youth about how they would like to see their school experience change. Additionally, the course focused on building community between youth, educators, and peers.

Graduation rates for African American students in SFUSD have also increased, from 80.6% in 2019-20 to 86% in 2020-21. The District’s 2020-21 African American graduation rate is much higher than the average rate of African American students at the state level and the five-year trend for African American students is overall positive (76.8% in 2016-17* to 86.0% in 2020-21). The percentage of African American graduates that met UC/CSU requirements also has seen a positive increase.

The full AAALI Executive Summary as well as past reports can be viewed here.

*The graduation data from 2016-17 is used as a baseline for comparison due to federal requirements that prompted changes to the calculation of the cohort graduation rate. Source: California Department of Education, DataQuest


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