New Report Highlights African American Student Achievement

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Press Release

San Francisco (February 27, 2024) - The African American Achievement & Leadership Initiative (AAALI) team at the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has released its 2023 annual report highlighting the achievements of African American students, and the efforts across SFUSD to provide equitable supports and outcomes for all students.

In 2015, the San Francisco Board of Education passed a resolution, “In Support of the Achievement and Success of All African American Students in the San Francisco Unified School District,” to renew the district's commitment to African American student achievement. AAALI was established that same year to promote the success of African American students and families by supporting academic and social-emotional learning, elevating effective practices and strategies, and cultivating leaders in the work of deconstructing systemic barriers to African American achievement.

Following the passage of that resolution, SFUSD has grown its African American parent leadership network, established new teams and coalitions to support targeted efforts to serve African American students, and identified practices and strategies intended to lead to academic successes for African American students.

“Every day in San Francisco public schools, African American students are demonstrating their intellect, creativity, and drive. We are proud of our programs that increase students’ academic capacity and skills while also building a greater sense of cultural self esteem,” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne said. “But while we have many bright spots for our African American students, in too many instances we are not doing enough to elevate their talents and potential. Our work is far from done in ensuring we support our African American students in meeting SFUSD’s goals for student outcomes in literacy, math, and college and career readiness.”

Highlights from the report include: 

  • This year, SFUSD is setting up its youngest African American students for success through the initiative, “Each and Every by Name.” SFUSD is making it a point to know each and every African American and Pacific Islander kindergarten student by name and provide the necessary supports and resources to help them thrive. This support has included phone calls home prior to the start of the school year, quarterly convenings with families, sending literacy kits home and decodable readers, and working with school staff on how to meet students’ needs.
  • Research consistently shows that a strong sense of belonging is a precursor to effective learning. Programs like Black Star Rising provide academically rigorous and culturally relevant math and science coursework during the spring and summer to help high school students prepare and gain confidence for the upcoming school year. Another program, Mastering Cultural Identity (MCI), is an academic mentoring model with culturally-relevant curriculum that gives students an opportunity to be taught in ways that relate to their culture and background. MCI has had a significant impact on retaining students; the report shows a 14 percentage point increase in the probability of Black male students staying in SFUSD due to enrolling in MCI.
  • Another approach SFUSD is taking to increase achievement is “PITCH,” which refers to five key supports schools must have to create a high-quality academic environment for all students, and specifically African American students. PITCH stands for: Professional capacity, Instructional guidance, Transforming mindsets, Collaborative culture and High-quality staff. Participating schools participate in monthly community of practice meetings to monitor changes in student outcomes and share best practices to Black student achievement.
  • The report shows that fewer African American students are chronically absent from schools. Between 2021-22 and 2022-23, chronic absenteeism for Black students was reduced by 7.1 percentage points. Black students in Mastering Cultural Identity and Black Star Rising, two of AAALI’s academic programs, saw a 32.9 percentage point reduction in chronic absenteeism. Black students in PITCH schools saw a 25.4 percentage point reduction in chronic absenteeism.

The full report is available online.