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Education professor aims to improve equity in education for African American students

January 24, 2017 - The high school drop-out rate was cut in half in the last 25 years, with only 6 percent of students dropping out before earning a diploma. And though African American students are still slightly more likely to drop out than their white classmates, that gap narrowed significantly over the past two decades. During this same time, the number of African Americans who earned a bachelor’s degree more than doubled. According to College of Education professor and researcher Gloria Boutte, these improvements follow a strategic plan to ensure equity in education for all students.

"There are documented examples of schools across the country that are effectively teaching African American students—even students from lower socioeconomic statuses. So it can be done," said Boutte. "What can we learn from these models that can be extrapolated to other schools and districts?"

Boutte has spent her career researching how to achieve equity in teaching for Black students. To advance this work, she recently created the Center for the Education and Equity of African American Students (CEEAAS) at Carolina.

“Through partnerships with public schools across the state and through numerous outreach programs, the center aims to improve academic and cultural outcomes for Black students,” said Boutte. “By drawing from research about the most effective ways to instruct, educators can teach African American students in culturally relevant ways.”

Also, the center will advocate for educational policies that could improve equity.

“We will promote policies that will provide Black students wider access to gifted, honors and AP courses for example, as well as policies that support reducing disproportionate suspensions, expulsions and placements in special education tracks.”

The center also will serve as a forum for community engagement by hosting numerous events that are free and open to the public including roundtable discussion, lectures, Saturday schools for youth and book studies. See a full list of events.

The inaugural lecture is set for January 26 from 6-8:00p.m. in the USC Law School Auditorium. Guest speaker, Joyce King from Georgia State University, will discuss the transformative power of educational research and the importance of making research accessible to the community, families and students.

“Our hope is to improve the lives of African American students in South Carolina and in the nation by making sure they are getting the education they deserve and need for a successful life.”