Teachers Discuss African-American Male Achievement at Summer Symposium

This week, more than 1,500 elementary teachers and administrators came together for the 2014 Achieving Academic Excellence for African American Male Students Symposium.

The symposium focused primarily on culturally relevant teaching and cultural responsiveness as a means to improve African-American male student achievement across GCS schools. The symposium is designed to enhance and sharpen educators’ knowledge of culturally responsive instruction. After the three-day symposium, each elementary principal and curriculum facilitator will continue the conversation at the school level.

Two national leaders in these studies were a part of the symposium. Dr. Geneva Gay (photo above) held a session on Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, while Mychal Wynn’s session was called Empowering African American Males to Succeed.

“We recognize that there’s a discrepancy in achievement for African-American males here in GCS and across the country,” said Dr. Jocelyn Becoats, chief curriculum and organizational development officer. “We hope that after these conversations, teachers and administrators will be reflective about their own biases and want to change their own approach to teaching in the classroom.”

Data gathered in GCS, as well as state and national trends, show that African-American male students have disproportionately lower literacy rates and higher suspension rates. By launching a committee to study African-American male achievement in 2011 and now providing teachers with classroom strategies at a symposium this week, GCS is among the first school districts to recognize the issues and respond in a tangible way.