Strategies for Improving School Culture: Educator Reflections on Transforming the High School Experience for Black and Latino Young Men. Executive Summaryedit
Researchers and practitioners increasingly recognize that a positive school culture not only enhances students’ day-to-day experiences, but also plays a role in raising student achievement. Yet many schools struggle to create a welcoming and supportive schoolwide culture. Indeed, there is evidence that students of color in particular–and perhaps most notably Black and Latino young men–often face cultural barriers at school. Beginning in 2012, New York City’s Expanded Success Initiative (ESI) provided 40 NYC high schools with financial resources and professional development to help them create or expand supports for Black and Latino young men. Many of the schools implemented strategies that were either implicitly or explicitly aimed at improving school culture. Drawing on interviews, focus groups, and case studies conducted as part of the Research Alliance’s ongoing evaluation of ESI, Strategies for Improving School Culture highlights ESI schools’ efforts to strengthen school culture in four key areas: (1) Developing culturally relevant Education (CRE); (2) Adopting restorative approaches to discipline; (3) Promoting strong relationships in schools; and (4) Providing early support for Postsecondary goals. The report also identifies three important values that connect and help undergird the strategies educators describe: teaching as reflective practice; taking responsibility for student learning and success; and building on student strengths. This executive summary is meant as an introduction to the strategies ESO schools used as they worked to improve school culture for young men of color. More detailed descriptions of the strategies are outlined in the full report.