We must be up front and realistic. Many of our struggling Black boys in schools have parents who are also struggling with how to engage them in reading. As a teacher, I create innovative ways of helping parents and families of Black boys to understand impact of language, Lexile scores and literacy on the success of their Black male student.
It’s our educational duty to work as hard and efficiently as we can to bridge the literacy gap for Black boys.
This is a critical to piece to student success. Reading is fundamental and it’s past due for us to empower and equip parents at all levels to reinforce literacy in the home and community. The first step to turning around school improvement to ensure that all stakeholders understand the power of literacy.
Education is critically important in the home because the world is made up of homes connected by the tender threads of life. We cannot leave the government or the business community to educate our Black boys. Our families and communities must come together with schools get our Black boys back on reading level and improving their language and literacy skills.
So what can we do to help Black parents improve the literacy development of Black boys?
I believe it’s important for us to know that Black parents understand that their Black sons reading must be measured. However, I do not think that many of them understand how Lexile is calculated or how the data is used. Schools districts can definitely to more to support parents in this areas of family engagement.
Lexile scores are only one companies perspective on what kinds of books are being read and what scores Black boys in particular are earning. We all know that this is driven by high stakes testing. When Black boys are asked questions about what they read, many of the responses don’t reflect the total picture.
For example; if a Black boy in 3rd grade has a 1250 Lexile people will be impressed but what if that same student’s scores do not change through 11th grade? 1250 each year? Would we label the child with a learning impairment? No, we are always pushing people into the norms of life based on what other people are doing. Lexile is a performance measure and it should be used to establish instructional goals and activities for Black boys.
Black parents must drive literacy and reading in Black boys especially between the ages of 3-6!
Ages three to six is a time to develop a sense of family. Black parents can drive literacy by creating authentic experiences where Black boys read and write. Writing and reading should work together in this grade band. Writing lessons, recipes, directions, letters etc. Teachers can support Blacks with lesson at home for literacy that engage Black boys. We must be creative!
As a Black male educator, I’ve provide parents lessons they can do at home with their Black sons to have them to write about heritage, culture, a book, a gang fight, anything to keep the mind moving. 3-6 are formative years and when long term memory starts. Reading and writing may be the only positive thing that some children can be invoiced in.
We must take literacy out of the box for Black boys.
Getting Black boys interested in books isn’t as easy as getting them interested in video games, but it’s not impossible. Use the items that you have to create an oral history and a way for your Black son to capture it. Not reading or writing around your Black son or in the home will impact them negatively.
Black boys must see us reading, writing, planning, researching and studying. The connection between language and communication is what makes us human, thus humane. Model dignity, strength and honor by learning something new practicing it and sharing your new skill with someone else.
Teaching Black boys that they matter by using literacy that language that connects to them. Lexile is an academic tool, not a deficit. We must begin to use this in a way that benefits Black boys in more positive ways.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.