A United Negro College Fund report titled “Imparting Wisdom” offers lessons K-12 ed leaders can learn from and adapt the best practices of historically black colleges and universities to foster academic success in black students.
The best practices include developing strong support systems by pairing students with diverse faculty, who sometimes practice "intrusive advising" to prevent students from falling through the cracks, adding efforts should also be made to recruit more teachers of color to reflect the student body, in addition to investing in strong advisors.
Other best practices include adding African American cultural elements into the curriculum and campus to help students develop their identities, as well as setting high expectations to eliminate the “belief gap” and make attending college an expectation rather than an exception.
The report points out HBCUs are often overlooked resources when it comes to developing high-achieving black students, yet these institutions are built on that premise. The UNCF report "Punching Above Their Weight" found that, in 2016, HBCUs enrolled 24% of all black undergrads who were pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the 21 states and territories where HBCUs are located.
Some districts have incorporated more culturally relevant curriculum. For example, the New York City Department of Education recently adopted a culturally responsive curriculum after the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice found a “lack of representation, diversity and inclusivity” in learning materials. The report found while the student body is 67% black or Latino, 84% of authors elementary students read are white. The district will review existing material and teacher training and update both to make them more inclusive.
Recruiting and retaining teachers of color is also a critical component but challenging to address. According to the Pew Research Center, teachers of color made up fewer than 20% of U.S. teachers as of the 2015-16 school year, and they report feeling undervalued. As a result, teachers of color are more likely to give up their careers than their white peers, but the impact they have on students of color include higher graduation rates, lower drop-out and suspension rates, and increased interest in college, according to a 2018 Learning Policy Institute report. White students also benefit from teachers of color by being more willing to talk about racism and bias in class discussions, the report said.