Race and Student Achievement
The racial demographics of K-12 public schools in the United States are rapidly changing. The National Center for Educational Statistics (2019) reports that between 2015 and 2027, the percentage of White students enrolled in public schools is projected to decrease from 49% to 45% while percentages of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students continues to increase.
Since 1975, national standardized test scores in both reading and math show White students pervasively and consistently achieving at significantly higher levels than African American, Latinx, and Indigenous (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2019).
The growing misalignment between racially disparate achievement results and changing racial demographics in schools reveals an urgent problem regarding the educational experiences for students of color. Steps must be taken to interrupt this persistent pattern so that all students see academic gains.
Leadership and Student Achievement
The need for racially conscious school and district leaders remains fundamental to improving student achievement in the nation’s schools. The research is clear and consistent that school leaders are second only to teachers in impacting student achievement (Louis, Leithwood, Wahlstrom, & Anderson, 2010). The importance of racial equity and social justice leadership also exists in the literature. In fact, the literature described leadership with a focus on racial equity as a commitment to social justice, which “ensures equitable and optimal learning conditions for all children” (Merchant & Garza, 2015, p. 56) and included elements of diversity, race, gender, culture, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, power, and privilege (Guerra, Nelson, Jacobs, & Yamamura, 2013).