BLACK TO THE FUTURE: A DESIGN-BASED APPROACH TO BLACK STUDENTS’ COLLEGE & CAREER READINESS

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Date
2023-04-20
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Johns Hopkins University
Abstract
Despite decades of education policy change, students, especially those attending systems in low-income areas, continue to face significant barriers to being prepared for life after high school. Although factors like advanced course offerings have shown to increase postsecondary readiness, only 57% of African American students attend high schools offering the classes necessary for them to be college ready. Students are graduating high school needing considerable additional time to develop the appropriate communication, digital literacy, and cultural competencies to address immediate, real-world challenges. This study addresses disproportionate college and career readiness outcomes at urban U.S. high schools across a southwestern major metropolitan area. Through the lens of nested ecological systems theory, this study explored educational policies like school accountability mandates, inequitable distribution of resources and ineffective educator professional development contribute to a cycle which perpetuates barriers to postsecondary advancement for Black students (Aleman, 2007; Au, 2016; Grant & Ray, 2010). A significant factor for Black students’ college and career readiness is the role non-familial adults in schools play. To further examine the nature of disproportionality in Black student college and career readiness outcomes in the context of an urban Southwest school district, a needs assessment study was conducted. The needs assessment aimed to identify patterns and congruent findings between the research literature and the researcher’s professional context, which prepared educators for the classroom microsystem. Based on the review of literature surrounding the problem of practice, teacher beliefs were chosen as an actionable factor of study operationalized as the constructs of teacher self-efficacy and teacher outcome expectancy. The assessment pointed to opportunities to address teacher efficacy via professional learning. To address this, the researcher used sociocultural theory, Castro’s (2013) notion of racialized college and career readiness and the Liberatory Design framework (Anaissie, Cary, Clifford, Malarkey & Wise, 2021) to develop a guidebook for implementation of design-based approaches to school improvement. Design principles and associated practices emphasize shifting power to teachers and students, minimizing transactional relationships and using school community member’s lived expertise as expertise in developing novel solutions to college and career readiness challenges. Finally, implications, conclusions and the researcher’s reflections are shared.
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Keywords
College and Career Readiness, Postsecondary Readiness, School Design, Urbal Leadership, School Leadership
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