From K-12 Through College: Advancing Black/African American Student Success

The theme for this year’s Black History Month is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. These three points (representation, identity, and diversity) embody not just the Black family, but also Black/African American success in education: both K-12 and higher education.

At Hobsons, we are committed to supporting all students (no matter race or ethnicity) to achieve success and putting them on a path to find their ideal academic and career option. Representation matters and by providing students a path to success, we can achieve great results. How are Black/African American students performing?

In 1940, when the U.S. Census Bureau started asking about educational completion, only 7% of Blacks/African Americans had a high school education, compared with 24% for the nation as a whole. In recent years, that percentage has gotten much closer to the national average and today, 88% of Black students have a high school diploma. School districts are developing more modern strategies to support students of color.  

The School District of Philadelphia’s Black/African American student population is currently at 52% and according to a Health of the City 2019 report, the district’s on-time graduation rates have increased since 2011 but remained stable in recent years. Their goal is to graduate 100% of their student population ready for college and career and by embracing progress, this is exactly what Philadelphia is doing. Since 2014, Naviance has helped the district improve 2-year and 4-year college-going rates, engage students in planning for their future, and create custom pathways for post-secondary success.  

In Chicago Public Schools, Black/African American students make up 35.9% of the student body. Through using Naviance and by focusing on transitions, the district has achieved a college enrollment rate of 68%, a 13% increase in just two years, and a 36% increase since 2006. Transitioning from middle to high school and high school to college were some of the district’s goals while supporting students over the summer months. Chicago is another example of making progress and increasing representation of Black/African American students. College readiness is another important step in the student success journey.  

The 2019 college attainment national average was at 36%, while 26% of Black/African Americans age 25 and older had attained a bachelor’s degree, per Census data. According to 2019 Pew Research Center data, Black/African American student enrollment has increased from 10% to 13% at public four-year institutions. While the racial gap is closing, there is still more to be done to support a successful college transition. The transition to college starts in K-12. And when students start that process, they are interested in a range of categories.  

According to the Naviance Class of 2020 Insights Report, 1 in 2 of Naviance Black/African American students are searching for Diversity/Inclusion when considering college. The topics included in this category include Co-Ed, HBCUs, LGBT inclusive, among others. It will be more important than ever for institutions to focus on inclusion when building recruitment strategies for Black/African American students.  

As we strive to make our own contributions and provide equitable access to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Intersect recently launched the HBCU Naviance Recruitment Pilot Program. This initiative helped educate HBCUs on Intersect and encouraged them to sign up for a free trial, allowing them to represent themselves through an Enhanced Naviance College Profile and generate inquiries with best-fit Naviance students.  

Because HBCUs have historically been underserved, this program was created to help them reach the diverse group of students using Naviance and generate increased interest in their institutions, especially during this time. Intersect’s initiative provided HBCUs with additional exposure to Naviance students and allowed them to showcase all they have to offer.  

For both K-12 and higher education, opportunities exist to support students’ educational journey. Teachers, counselors, advisors, parents, mentors, and anyone who interacts with students play an important role in increasing and improving student outcomes. Racial and ethnic gaps in graduation rates are a priority, but it does not start nor end in Black History Month.  

By emphasizing representation, identity, and diversity, we can unite and help students understand their possibilities and help close gaps in the education system. Hobsons will always continue to identify ways for our company and products to provide equitable access to minority and traditionally underserved students the resources they need to pursue their academic and career goals. 

Topics Higher Ed k-12
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