As the importance of increasing academic opportunities for young male minorities has been thrust into the spotlight by the Obama administration, a recently published report on New York City’s Expanded Success Initiative, is shedding light on the effectiveness of such measures.
ESI, which was launched in 2012, is the central education element of the city’s larger Young Men’s Initiative, designed to improve health, employment, criminal justice and education for young black and Latino men.
The Research Alliance for New York City Schools, housed by the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, published the report after ESI had been in operation for a year.
The report, titled “Promising Opportunities for Black and Latino Young Men,” relied on data from 38 out of the 40 schools where ESI is being tested — Hurricane Sandy damaged the two schools that were left out.
“During each visit, we conducted interviews with the principals and ESI design team members, as well as a focus group with three to five 9th-grade teachers,” the report said. “We also used a structured questionnaire for principals or design team members about the details of ESI programming in their school.”
The team’s findings suggest that by implementing more rigorous coursework, increasing funding for workshops and personalizing student-teacher relationships, ESI schools are encouraging students to be more college-focused.
However, Adriana Villavicencio, the study’s lead author, said she believes the overall success of ESI cannot be judged yet.
“Though our early implementation findings are promising, we do not yet know for sure if ESI will be a success in terms of student impacts,” Villavicencio said. “However, as a research and design initiative, ESI will be helpful in identifying what works, what doesn’t, for whom and to what degree. The lessons we learn from ESI and our evaluation can be instrumental for other districts and schools working to improve outcomes for Black and Latino young men.”
CAS junior Victoria Salazar, who is involved with the Higher Education Opportunity Program at NYU, said the city and NYU ensure equal opportunity for some, but should do more.
“New York City has definitely tried to fix the minority gap at colleges by implementing programs such as CSTEP/HEOP/EOP/SEEK in public and private schools,” she said. “Unfortunately these programs are only for N.Y. state residents. NYU as well as other colleges should develop opportunities where out of state minorities can be given the opportunity to attend a higher education institute.”
As for ESI, the Research Alliance at NYU is going to monitor its effectiveness through the end of the four-year initiative in 2016.
“The Research Alliance will continue to lead this evaluation through the end of the initiative,” Villavicencio said. “I plan to remain on as lead researcher along with one of my co-authors, Sarah Klevan.”
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 16 print edition. Andrew Spohn is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected]
*Correction: A previous version of this article implied that the Research Alliance was in operation for a year when the report was published. The report was published when ESI had been in operation for a year. A quote by Adriana Villavicencio about the relationship between Steinhardt and the Research Alliance was misrepresented and has been removed. The Research Alliance has been housed at NYU for five years, and the university did not offer its services starting with this project. Additionally, ESI is still being tested in schools. Lastly, NYU will monitor ESI’s effectiveness through the end of 2016, while the previous version misstated that the ESI had not yet been fully implemented. The headline of this article has also been changed from “Research finds greater opportunities for minorities” to “Research looks to find greater opportunities for minorities” to reflect a more accurate title.
WSN regrets the errors.