More than half of black male students in the Oakland Unified School District are at risk of dropping out, according to new analysis from the community advocacy organization Urban Strategies Council.
From kindergarten through 12th grade, black boys struggled with attendance, suspension, and maintaining a C average, according to the reports.
Among African American males who were not on track to graduate, 73 percent in elementary school were chronically absent, missing 10 percent or more of school days for any reason, according to the findings released this week. In middle school, the same percentage had been suspended at least once. Nearly two-thirds of high schoolers were chronically absent and had less than a C average; 41 percent had been suspended at least once.
"We need to understand what's going on if we're going to effectively intervene and improve outcomes and graduation and success of African American males," said Junious Williams, chief executive officer of the council.
The council's reports on dropout indicators are part of Oakland Unified's African American Male Achievement Initiative, an effort launched in 2010 to improve academic and social equity for black boys. The findings provide "a sense of urgency" for the district, said Chris Chatmon, executive director of the district's Office of African American Male Achievement.
Black boys made up 17 percent of Oakland Unified students in 2010-11, but they represented 42 percent of students suspended, according to the report.