Report to Read: “Black Minds Matter”

Closing the Achievement Gap

The Education Trust – West, an organization that advocates for educational justice and high academic achievement among all students — particularly low-income and students of color — recently published Black Minds Matter. This report details and proposes solutions to the achievement gap facing California’s nearly 1 million Black students.

California has the fifth largest Black population in the country, and in West Contra Costa, Black students represent nearly 20% of the K-12 population. These students are less likely to graduate high school in four years and be identified for GATE; they are more likely to be taught by ineffective teachers, identified for special education, take remedial, non-credit college courses and be suspended or expelled.

Black Minds Matter offers recommendations for addressing these issues and profiles of school districts that are implementing effective solutions:

Early Learning

The Problem: Limited access to high quality, affordable preschool

Key Recommendations:

  • Provide free or subsidized preschool to all 4-year-olds
  • Provide high-quality health care
  • Early education providers should focus on engaging families early
  • Educate parents about child development, nutrition, early literacy and school readiness

Example Initiatives: Kern County Black Infant Health Program, Alameda County Father Corps, National Black Child Development Institute


The Problem: Persistent achievement gaps

Key Recommendations:

  • Schools should focus on rigor and relevance of academic content
  • Schools and districts should provide interventions and supports for struggling students
  • Ensure equitable access to effective teachers by recruiting, supporting, and recognizing effective teachers
  • Extend learning time
  • Reduce suspensions and expulsions by focusing on school climate

Example Initiatives: San Bernardino City Unified Department of Equity and Targeted Student Achievement, San Francisco Unified African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative

College & Beyond

The Problem: Low rate of college completion and high rate of requiring remedial, non-credit bearing coursework

Key Recommendations:

  • Provide early, continuing college-going supports, including assistance with college and financial aid applications and ongoing academic support to complete college-preparatory coursework
  • Strengthen academic and social supports for vulnerable students
  • Expand access to financial aid by actively reaching out to students and their families
  • Accelerate access to college-level coursework

Example Initiatives: Riverside Unified School District’s Heritage Plan, CSU Fullerton’s Supplemental Instruction Program

Click here to access the full PDF report, Black Minds Matter: Supporting the Educational Success of Black Children in California.

For more information related to this report, including resources to learn more, share or discuss Black Minds Matter, please visit The Education Trust – West.


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