The Research Alliance for New York City Schools released a new study detailing how the Expanded Success Initiative has worked in its second year of existence.
“The report extends and deepens our ongoing examination of ESI’s implementation,” read the executive summary. “It first looks at implementation ‘fidelity’—by assessing how well schools’ programming was aligned with the broad tenets of ESI—and ‘intensity’—by assessing the frequency and duration of programming, as well as the number of programs offered. The report then describes specific elements of ESI that educators identified as particularly important for their Black and Latino male students.”
The ESI is part of New York City’s Young Men’s Initiative launched in 2011, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Open Society Foundations and more than 20 city agencies. The goal of the YMI is to address disparities in education, employment, health and criminal justice. The ESI is an education component of the YMI, developed by the Department of Education to focus on improving low college readiness among Black and Latino young males in those schools.
Low college readiness is a problem that has persisted among Black and Latino males, even though New York City high school graduation rates have increased. ESI provided funding and professional development to 40 New York City high schools to help boost the college and career readiness among Black and Latino male students.
Titled “Changing How Schools Serve Black and Latino Young Men,” the study, authored by Adriana Villavicencio, Sarah Klevan and David Kang, focused on the 2013-2014 school year and pinpointed some of the benefits outside of the programming, including improved relationships between students and teachers, a greater emphasis on college and more reflective practice and continual learning.
But although the culture has improved through college trips, college advising, counseling and mentoring, the numbers haven’t. The study found that the youth development and school culture programming didn’t have a direct effect on academic performance when measuring grade point average and Regents exam scores.
The reports suggests that although the implementation of ESI was strong, the program should more explicitly emphasize academics and build on early success in offering college support.
“ESI schools may want to consider introducing supports that more directly influence academic achievement (e.g., expanded learning time, more rigorous courses), especially those directly tied to college-related skills (e.g., advanced math and science classes, research-based projects),” read the report. “Schools may also want to address competencies within specific subjects—writing longer reports, for instance, or strong number sense—to better prepare students for college-level academics.”
The authors of the study also suggest that the ESI may just need more time to develop and produce further academic gains.