Context of Report

The impetus of this report derives from long-standing concerns of community members, parents, and youth regarding the well-being and unique challenges faced by young males of color in Rhode Island. As substantiated by a robust body of empirical research, boys and men of color experience disproportionately negative exposure and outcomes on almost every measure of wellness, including health, academic, and economic indicators (Barbarin et al., 2016; Caperton, 2010; Johnson & Shel-ton, 2014; Miranda et al, 2014; Noguera, 2014; Noguera, Hurtado, & Fergus, 2013; Presidential Task-force, 2014). Compared to their white male peers, males of color have a higher exposure to poverty, racialization and stigma, discrimination, harsher punishment in the criminal justice system, as well as fewer opportunities to attend high quality schools or take advanced coursework (Barbarin et al., 2016; Williams, 2016). In response to these concerns, communities nationwide have launched efforts to critically examine the experiences of males of color in order to develop policies, programs, and practices to better serve their needs (Presidential Taskforce, 2014). In addition, national efforts such as President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative have called for increased data collection and report-ing to inform policy and practice that addresses the socioemotional and health needs of young males of color (Johnson & Shelton, 2014; Miranda et al, 2014).

In alignment with local and national efforts, and in response to local concerns regarding the plight of males of color, YouthBuild Providence commissioned this report as part of a broader strategy by YouthBuild Providence and its partners to bring attention to the experiences, needs, and strengths of the young males of color living in Rhode Island. Given the importance of schooling as a critical institution in the lives of children, their families, and communities, this report provides a descriptive overview of academic and engagement outcomes for males of color enrolled in public schools in Rhode Island, with a focus on the urban core. As explained in subsequent sections, such a focus was deemed appropriate, given that two-thirds of all males of color in Rhode Island attend schools within the urban core.

To understand the outcomes for males of color in Rhode Island, this report maps out academic and engagement outcomes for five student groups: (1) all Rhode Island males enrolled in public schools statewide; (2) white male students enrolled in the urban core; (3) males of color in the urban core, including Asian, black, Latino, and Native American students; (4) black males enrolled in the urban core; and (5) Latino males enrolled in the urban core. This approach allows for comparison of all outcomes for urban core males of color compared with their white peers in the urban core, as well as male students statewide, while highlighting the experiences of black and Latino males in the urban core.

This report is divided into four sections. Section I offers a demographic profile of male students in Rhode Island as well as the urban core, including enrollment patterns for each subgroup. Section II discusses student engagement, and examines such factors as attendance and school disciplinary actions. Section III looks at academic achievement, including performance on standardized tests and high school completion rates. The fourth section focuses on academic rigor and preparation for post-secondary education by looking at SAT and AP results as well as college enrollment, persistence, and completion rates. Based on data availability, findings for all sections are aggregated by grade level: elementary (Pre K-5), middle school (grades 6-8), and high school (grades 9-12). The report concludes with a summary of the findings as well as considerations for policy and practice.

This report uses secondary aggregated data from Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (OPC), provided by DataSpark, a data and information accessibility initiative of the Providence Plan. RIDE is the data source for all K-12 topics and OPC the source for the post-secondary outcomes. Appendix I: Data and Methodology provides details on how measures were calculated in each section.