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Connecting across contexts: Promising practices to support Black students

Connecting contexts: Practices to support Black students

By Marguerite Huber
September 21, 2018

What are promising practices that educators can use to support Black students? New resources from Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest draw on research to answer this question and are helping educators across the region support Black students in achieving their full potential.

Identifying promising practices

The REL Midwest Achievement Gap Research Alliance (MAGRA), which seeks to improve outcomes for Black students in Wisconsin, conducted an extensive review of relevant research to identify practices associated with improved educational opportunities and achievement among Black students. This research review, Evidence-Supported Interventions Associated with Black Students’ Education Outcomes: Findings from a Systematic Review of Research, describes practices supported by promising evidence organized by state, district, school, and classroom levels.

Black students who are mentored, have strong student-teacher relationships, and have teachers with high expectations perform better in school.

Drawing on this review, a new REL Midwest video, Supporting Black Students’ Excellence: Connecting Research to Practice, illustrates how some of these practices are developing at Racine Unified School District in Racine, Wisconsin. This video, and its accompanying viewing guide [ 293 KB PDF icon ], highlights three promising practices, showing that Black students who are mentored, have strong student-teacher relationships, and have teachers with high expectations perform better in school.

Connecting across contexts

Striving to support Black students and address achievement gaps is a relevant concern for stakeholders across the country. To promote the strategies highlighted in the research review and video, the alliance and its community of practice, which includes state education staff working on similar issues in the region, are working to spread the word within their states.

The alliance also shared the resources at the spring REL Midwest Governing Board meeting. Board member David Tilly, deputy director at the Iowa Department of Education, thought the information would be of interest to the Iowa State Board of Education. At his request, REL Midwest staff headed to Des Moines and presented the research review findings and video to the Iowa State Board. “I am hopeful that the information we presented will spark discussion and help the Iowa State Board make decisions to improve minority student outcomes in their state,” recounted Jameela Conway-Turner, MAGRA research liaison and REL Midwest researcher.

The promising practices in the video and research review offer a jumping off point for discussions about supporting other student groups as well. Tim Lutz is the superintendent at Bemidji Area Schools, which serves more than 1,000 American Indian students in Bemidji, Minnesota. A member of the REL Midwest Career Readiness Research Alliance, he learned about the resources and thought many of the promising practices could apply to his students. Lutz reflected on the video, “There is so much in here in terms of empowering students and helping them succeed.” The video viewing guide’s discussion questions are a useful tool to help generate conversations about whether and how the practices can translate to other student groups, and Lutz plans to share both resources with the principals in his district.

“We’ve been excited about how these resources have been received,” says MAGRA partnership facilitator Kyle Fagan, “and we are excited to continue to learn more about how the materials are used to critically engage in practice.”

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Author(s) Information

Cora Goldston Staff Picture

Marguerite Huber

Communications Associate | REL Midwest


Beating the odds (2)

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College and Career Readiness (42)

Data Use (32)

Discipline (4)

Early Childhood (31)

Educator Effectiveness (36)

English Learners (10)

Literacy (11)

Math (1)

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