A Strong Start: Positioning Young Black Boys for Educational Success


A Strong Start: Positioning Young Black Boys for Educational Success

June 14, 2011
Washington, D.C.


View a Statistical Profile (PDF) from ETS's Addressing Achievement Gaps Symposium.

Today, 15.5 million children in America live in poverty. More than 20 percent of children under the age of five are poor, and over 40 percent of these children are Black. At nine months of age, poor Black children are already behind their higher-income peers in cognitive development; the gap is even wider by 24 months. By kindergarten, poor Black children have to beat the odds to catch up — and as various tests reveal, many never do.

Is It Possible to Write a Different Story?

Much of the story about Black males and the achievement gap has focused on long-term outcomes, such as low graduation rates and the low proficiency scores of minority students in grades four, eight and 12. Too often, we hear that the problem is too big to solve. If we focus our efforts on the education and development of 3.5 million Black boys under the age of nine years, however, is it possible to write a different story?

Identifying Opportunities for Success

This year's Addressing Achievement Gaps Symposium, "A Strong Start: Positioning Young Black Boys for Educational Success," was devoted to the issues facing Black boys in their early years. ETS partnered with the Children's Defense Fund to explore the challenges facing this vulnerable population, and the opportunities to position young Black boys for educational success.

The symposium concentrated on the following:

  • focus attention on the challenges, needs and opportunities facing young Black boys within the larger picture of Black male achievement
  • illuminate the connections between early cognitive and social/emotional development and later readiness for success in school
  • examine the role of a high-quality, seamless PreK–3rd grade continuum of education in supporting Black male achievement
  • identify promising, realistic policies and strategies to affect the path of the 3.5 million Black males under the age of nine

Highlights from the symposium can be found in the Fall 2011 issue of ETS Policy Notes — Positioning Young Black Boys for Educational Success (PDF) (Vol. 19, No. 3).

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